The route is based largely on the Two Moors Way, though with modufications. Firstly it's necessary to get from Plymouth to Ivybridge, the start of the official TMW; I originally plotted a series of local footpaths leading away from the coast at Bovisand Bay and travelling via Yealmpton, but the subsequent creation of the Earme-Plym link provided a superior route which I adopted as a revision. Within Dartmoor itself the route forsakes the TMW in favour of a route via Dartmeet, a place of absolute charm which should on no account be missed. Chagford, where the TMW is rejoined, is a further day's walk from Dartmeet. The route between the two is somewhat arbitary but Postbridge is recommended as a midday staging post.The route then crosses the gentle, undulating farm country of mid-Devon, using the Two Moors Way. The scenery is pretty but the walk can be hard work, with as much ascent per day as in the Dartmoor section. The final stage of the walk crosses Exmoor, where miles of unimproved heath are interspersed with wooded valleys and chocolate box villages. At Withypool the route leaves the Two Moors Way for Exford and Dunkerey Beacon before reaching the coast at Porlock. The final day's walk to Minehead lays along the Somerset Coastal Path.
I included this section in my End to End walk specifically to include Dartmoor in my itinerary. It's a national park and is one of England's finest walking areas. Up there among the tors (rock outcrops) you can really stride out and the miles seem to glide effortlessly away beneath your feet; the gradients are gentle, the ground is firm, and the views are extensive; views that, more often than not, encompass vast areas of open space without another human being in sight.
Dartmoor has a certain reputation for being hazardous. It isn't. Its reputation has much to do with a certain Sherlock Holmes novel, and perhaps the fact that an army firing range occupies part of the northwestern sector of the moor. If you don't believe in spectral hounds and you don't venture onto the moor in wet or misty conditions you'll be perfectly OK and will be wondering what all the fuss was about.
Exmoor is less extensive than Dartmoor, is
admittedly less scenic, and also
offers less blanket access. A route such as this, which has Minehead as
as its destination, must of necessity miss out the best bits of Exmoor
anyway. It's also logistically awkward to follow the Two Moors Way here
as this route heads northwestwards to Lynmouth. By all means modify my
route and explore the Doone Valley and Lynmouth if you wish. But the
day, from Porlock to Minehead, is a walk of pure delight and shows off
Exmoor at its best.
Backpacking is an option but camping is more difficult than you might think and there are few opportunities for camping wild, even on Dartmoor. It's officially frowned on, though in practice you'll be OK as long as you remain out of sight of any road or building and leave ABSOLUTELY NO TRACE of your stay. Don't light fires; use a proper stove. A couple of my daily destinations (particularly Dartmeet) have no accommodation.
If you do the walk using public transport hubs then Plymouth is good for the first three days, then Newton Abbot for another two, then Barnstaple for the middle section and finally any north coast town (Lynmouth, Porlock or preferably Minehead) for the last two stages. Transport needs careful planning here and there, particularly at weekends and on public holidays. Extra bus services are laid on over both Dartmoor and Exmoor on summer weekends and these can be very useful PROVIDED you have up-to-date information. Call in at the local tourist information office wherever you are staying.
Finally, follow the country code, a set of common-sense rules that are mainly about leaving things as you found them and not causing nuisance or damage. A lot of those blocked footpaths are blocked because too many ramblers are irresponsible and cause annoyance to farmers and landowners. Behave yourself, but above all, enjoy yourself.
|1||Plymouth to Yealmpton||9.85 miles|
|2||Yealmpton to Ivybridge||8.0 miles|
|3||Ivybridge to Dartmeet||14.72 miles|
|4||Dartmeet to Chagford||13.9 miles|
|5||Chagford to Morchard Road||16.7 miles|
|6||Morchard Road to Witheridge||9.6 miles|
|7||Witheridge to Jubilee Inn||9.15 miles|
|8||Jubilee Inn to Exford||13.5 miles|
|9||Exford to Porlock||8.46 miles|
|10||Porlock to Minehead||8.29 miles|
|South Cornwall Coast Path||Back to main index||Somerset Way|
This page last updated 29th December 2007