Morchard Road to Witheridge 
12½ miles

route diagram

Chagford to Morchard Road Back to Devon Coast-to-Coast index Witheridge to Jubilee Inn

The Walk

We continue our walk across mid-Devon today, and once again we'll be walking through a world of farms, pastures, fields, cattle, woods, streams, back lanes and tiny villages. The Two Moors Way is well waymarked through most of this section and there are just a tiny handful of localities where the route is ambiguous. The distance of twelve and a half miles is quite enough for one day, particularly as the terrain is quite hilly - there is nearly 1400 ft of ascent in total. The only real opportunity to break the walk is at Morchard Bishop, which has an infrequent bus service. Morchard Road is on the Exeter - Barnstaple railway line, while Witheridge is on the Taunton to Barnstaple bus route.

Maps:  OS 1:25000 Explorers 113 (Okehampton) and 127 (South Molton and Chulmleigh)

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Morchard Road

Shobrooke Bridgefield pathsShobrooke Wood

Having reached Morchard Road by train or bus, go southwest along the main Exeter road and over the main crossroads. Your initial task is to discover the correct driveway to Shobrooke Bridge, and I found on my visit in 2004 that this can be a matter of trial and error. The correct driveway runs diagonally off to the left (east) some 250 metres beyond the crossroads, opposite a white house and leads to a cottage or two. Shobrooke Bridge itself, which takes the farm track across the railway, is just past the cottages (first picture above).

Follow the track towards Shobrooke Farm and then, keeping an eye on the map, follow the Two Moors Way along a series of fieldside paths to the north and east. The waymarking is generally good, though the small wood to the north of Shobrooke Farm is a source of confusion. It's depicted on the map as being shaped like a wedge of pie, the apex pointing south towards the farm. Its actual shape is a little more complex and, on sunless days, you can get disoriented. Trust the waymarks, and follow the paths beyond the wood northwards to Slade farm.



Things are a little confusing around Slade as, at the time of writing, the right of way is in the process of being realigned and there are not as many waymarks as there might be. Leave the ponds, part of  small wildlife reserve, to your left and the farmhouse itself to your right. Several subsequent changes of direction are potentially disorientating but the path generally runs just east of north through a grassy pasture, with a stream off to the left within a ribbon of trees.

The ponds at Slade, and field paths between Slade and Weeke

About 500 metres north of Slade both the stream and the path curve to the right and converge. The path crosses the stream and then runs along a narrow lane to approach the hamlet of Weeke.


The route at Weeke

The path rises fairly sharply to reach Weeke, which is on top of a ridge. Once you reach the road turn right, then immediately left at a fork for a narrow lane down to Woodgate.

Woodgate, and field paths to Morchard Bishop

The lane gives out at Woodgate and from here you turn half right, pretty much following the countours of the hill that slopes up to your right. Morchard Bishop is not far ahead; keeping a close eye on the map navigate by the waymarks and field boundaries. This is a very pleasant stretch.

The Two Moors Way just before Morchard Bishop

Morchard Bishop

The route reaching Morchard Bishop

Morchard Bishop is a charming little place, its outskirts an open cluster of whitewashed cottages approached by a series of small pastures featuring a good many gates and stiles. This "suburb" of the village is known as The Parks, a very apt name.

The Parks

Arriving in Morchard Bishop

Having made your way across the various pastures and paddocks you find yourself in a little lane (second photo above) that brings you out into the centre of the village. Just down to your left is the village shop, a most useful amenity. Adjacent to the shop is a small green featuring a war memorial and some seats, an excellent place to stop for a refreshment break. There's a bus service to Exeter once every two hours, plus occasional buses via Chulmleigh to Barnstaple, for those who wish to break the journey here.

Morchard Bishop village shop, Church Street, and the path to Morchard Wood

Leave the village to the east, along Church Street. Opposite the church and just beyond the school take a footpath off to the left. This skirts the school grounds and runs alongside a hedge (first picture below). At the next field corner go half right towards a stile some 300 metres ahead. Once across this stile go half right once again, following alongside the fence (second picture below). Morchard Wood lays to your left and, at the far end of the field, the path doglegs to the left to run into the wood.

The path network between Morchard Bishop and Morchard Wood

Looking back at Morchard Bishop;  scenes in Morchard Wood

I was struck by the vigour and variety of plant life within Morchard Wood, which itself is an interesting mix of tree species. I even spotted shamrock growing in there and I'm willing to bet that the wood is alive with bluebells each May. The path through the wood slopes downhill. At the far end you come out onto a road.

Black Dog

Beech Hill and the field paths to Lower Brownstone

Go to the left along the road for a short distance until you come to the private drive to Beech Hill (first picture above), and turn hard right for the footpath to Lower Brownstone. The path heads downhill into a gully, crosses a stream by a plank bridge and runs alongside the northwest edge of a wood. Towards the end of the wood the path cuts across the corner of the pasture to reach a second footbridge. Beyond here you run uphill, with a hedge to your right, to reach Lower Brownstone farm.

Paths and footbridges  on the approach to Lower Brownstone

Take the farm driveway north from Lower Brownstone out onto the road and cross it to enter a farm lane (first picture below). This lane leads out to a broad, flat pasture with a row of trees along its eastern edge. Walk alongside these to the next field corner, then northwards again to a further field corner. From here the path goes half right, diagonally across a rough pasture (third photo below), and downhill to a stream within a copse of trees.

Field paths, Lower Brownstone to Wood Farm

You're now in the grounds of Wood Farm and here another path revision is about to take place. The new path will head west-northwest along a series of field boundaries following a rising spur of land, to come out onto the road just beyond the marked spot height of 185 metres. The present path tracks to the north via Wood Farm and initially runs up a pretty steep slope from the copse. Old and new paths converge at the hilltop, where there is a barn. Once you reach the road go straight across for a footpath heading for Cobscome Farm.

Cattle at Wood Farm;  the environs of Cobscombe Farm.

The next section is a bit tricky to follow - you're in a grassy pasture without much sign of an actual path (second picture above). Tend to the right as you go down a steepening slope; there's a field boundary to cross before you come to a bridge over a stream. Thereafter things are easier. Go uphill again towards Cobscombe farm and follow the waymarks right alongside the farm buildings and out onto the road beyond. Follow the road now, southeastwards to Black Dog.

Black Dog

Black Dog is an oddly named village, yet is pleasant enough, a peaceful place of white rendered cottages. The Black Dog Inn is said to be a well-known watering hole on the TMW so by all means check it out. Black Dog stands on a ridge roughly halfway between Dartmoor and Exmoor and enjoys pretty decent views of both. I'm told that a number of artists reside in and around the village; one of them is a friend of a friend and there is a link to her website below.

    Kirsty Bonning, Landscape painter, Black Dog Studios

The TMW route doesn't reach the main part of the village but, some 300 metres before the crossroads, turms hard left onto a vehicle track heading north for Pyne Farm. Eagle-eyed map readres will spot a local footpath that promises to cut off this sharp corner but, unfortunately, it seems to be something of a fantasy. By the time you've found and negotiated it, you are better off walking the extra hundred metres on a much more straightforward route.

The track to Pyne Farm

The lane proves to be short, and not far after leaving Black Dog you come out onto open pasture again. The route runs downhill to cross a stream before a short uphill run to Pyne Farm itself; then this scenario repeats itself as you go downhill across a second open pasture, cross a second stream, and then make your way uphill towards Wonham.

Open pastures near Pyne Farm


Pass Wonham farm and then turn right at the next field corner. There's a fairly steep slope down to your left, though the path itself hugs the contours pretty well as it follows field boundaries to the northeast. Then, about half a kilometre beyond Wonham, the path goes smartly downhill to come into Washford Wood.

Washford Wood

There's a good path through the wood, which is a most pleasant interlude. At its far end you come out into a little lane (third picture above), which swings sharp right as it clears the trees and runs southeast to a road. Turn left along this road and follow it for the short distance into WashfordPyne.

Washford Pyne

Washford Pyne

Washford Pyne is a pretty little village and is intensely green - so much grass and so many trees that it almost comes across as an enormous garden. Turn left onto a wide green lane just before the church (second image above) and follow this downhill and around to the left. Now keep a close eye on the map - this is a complicated section and, just where you really need them most, the Two Moors Way waymarks are suddenly nowhere to be seen.

You go down int a dell. The Way goes to the right across a fence, and a short way through the dell you come across a plank footbridge across a watercourse. Just past here you come out into the open. Go diagonally to the left up the steep slope that faces you, to come alongside a hedge. Walk alongside it and stay with it as it curves to the right, at which point you reach the farm buildings of Stourton Barton.

The farm driveway north of Stourton Barton

The complexities cease as you pass the farm and then follow the farm driveway to the north. The drive runs downhill to cross another stream (picture above) then curves a bit to the left to run north-northwest towards a lonely road junction.

Stourton Barton farm road


Cross-pasture route to Millmoor Farm

Cross the road and cut diagonally across the succeeding pasture towards Millmoor Farm (pictured above). Just as at Stourton Barton the route now follows the farm driveway out to another road, but in contrast to Stourton Barton's half mile driveway it's a short little bend that leads out from Millmoor to the road. A short right-left dogleg brings you into the short lane to the pretty locality of Woodford.

Woodford;  field paths to Witheridge

The tiny cluster of buildings that comprise Woodford lays off to the left. Leave the lane where it curves left, and take a footpath that follows the right-hand side of a sunstantial hedgerow to the north. You're now on the first of a series of field paths that leads to Witheridge, a mile to the north. The path rises gently to a broad hilltop (elevation 207 metres), where there's a decent view  of Exmoor on the skyline ahead. Dogleg right and left and follow the subsequent field boundary for about 200 metres, then strike off half right through the crop to head for the left corner of a copse of trees in the dip just ahead (second image below). At the dip you cross another local authority boundary, leaving the Mid Devon district and entering North Devon.

Field paths south of Witheridge

Last field before Witheridge

The cross-field path theme continues as you climb across a rising spur of land, cross a field boundary, and follow the path across the next pasture. At the far end you come to a footpath crossroads, where the Ridge and Valley Trail from Eggesford comes in from the west. Go straight ahead for the village of Witheridge

Path junction


Entering Witheridge

The way into the village is a little more complicated than the map would suggest; you need to make your way along a residential road or two before reaching the enclosed lane that takes you slap into the village square.

The lane

Witheridge village square and church, and a welcome

Witheridge is rather lovely - you can drink in the charm of the place and even forgive the sign that says, "Sleeping, cooking, camping, personal ablutions  and disturbances likely to cause a breach of the peace PROHIBITED". Presumably you can sneeze if you really must! But there are plenty of amenities here; a couple of shops, a couple of pubs, a public lavatory, and of course the bus stop for the Tiverton - Barnstaple service.


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This page last updated 23rd April 2007