On Saturday 10th November 11 walkers retraced the walk that was abandoned in snow in March. This time it was wet, but only some of the time and the autumn colours were splendid.
We were again very glad to be joined by Peter F. Mason who had curated the exhibition “Dartmoor a Wild and Wondrous Region – the Portrayal of Dartmoor in Art 1750-1920” at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum (RAMM) last winter. As a local resident and historian, Peter’s knowledge of Lustleigh is second to none. Starting by the car park on Trendlebeare Down, Peter showed two images of the Cleave.
The next stop was Hisley Bridge. The weir that was painted by Frederick Foot has been washed away, but the packhorse bridge is unchanged.
Taking the bridlepath through Hisley Woods we passed the remains of Boveycombe Farm, which before the forestry was planted had grown daffodils, probably taken by train for the London market.
Climbing gently through the woods, we stopped below Heaven’s Gate to look at one of the views painted by William Spreat in the middle of the 19th century. Since grazing in the area ceased this view, as well as many others, has changed dramatically; regenerating trees (mostly oak, birch and hazel) have obscured what the 19th century painters saw but Peter was able to identify the focus of this and other paintings looking at the Manaton side of the Cleave.
Next we paused to look at a Bronze Age pound and hut circle before climbing the steep path to Sharpitor. This was another very popular location for Victorian artists, including Francis Stevens and Emmanuel Jeffrey, with spectacular views across the valley.
After a break for lunch we walked along the top past the huge granite boulders of Harton Chest. There are stunning views westward to Hound Tor, Hayne and Bowerman’s Nose (the DPA’s logo) as well as Manaton Church. The far point of the walk was Hunter’s Tor Iron Age Hillfort and the Tor itself. Sadly the rain cut short our stop here.
We retraced our steps to Sharpitor and took a steep track down the south side, past where there was once a logan stone; this was sadly dislodged many years ago and despite the efforts of the military at the time it was not possible to replace it.
The last stop was at the Clam Bridge over the River Bovey. This is believed to be the only remaining clam bridge on the moor, made of two tree trunks. In recent years the bridge did not meet modern standards, so in spite of vigorous local opposition, a new bridge was built. However, the clam is still there and the sign saying ‘use at your own risk’, is widely ignored.
Torrential rain in the previous few days had flooded the riverside path so we were obliged to return via Hisley Bridge – the riverside will have to wait for a drier day.
Very many thanks to Peter Mason for generously giving his expertise for a second visit to this lovely part of Dartmoor. The catalogue which Peter wrote for the exhibition is still available from RAMM and shortly also from the DPA.