Wayward Wanderers Walking Group

Christow and Bridford

February 08, 2010, prb, Comments: 0

Ancient villages & old mines

The group contained a healthy cast of regular members and also some prospective members sampling us for the first time.  Welcome to you!

We set off from Christow's village car park, heading gently uphill through the village as far as the 12th century Artichoke Inn.

From here the uphill slope steepened as we struck up Dry Lane (so named, presumably, to distinguish it from the adjoining Wet Lane), continuing upwards to the edge of this straggling village.  Turning left again near Court Barton, past a traditional Dartmoor dwelling,  ..........

....... the climb extended further but with some fine
compensatory views over the valley to the north.  Shortly it levelled off and then, by a property named "Engine House",  no doubt for good historical reasons, we took a steep turn downhill past some smallholdings shown on the map as the site of a disused mine.

At the road junction we greeted a new friend,.......

............ and continued left as far as the track off to the right for Shippen Farm.  Striking off the track onto the adjoining field, before long we reached the secluded curtilage of Many Waters, a property built on the site of the shortllived Birch Aller Mine  This lead mine, subsequent research reveals (see http://www.aditnow.co.uk/mines/Birch-Aller-Lead-Mine/), did not realise commercially viable quantities of lead ore and closed in 1855, operations apparently starting in about 1850.

Once past the old mine stack,.........

.........the track steepened and before long joined a lane, where we turned left and, dismayingly for some, again uphill.  The climb upwards continued further but after 800 m we reached the ridge, levelling out at about 245 m  AOD.  Then to much relief, we started the gentle descent into Bridford village.  Passing the Bridford Inn, the route continued down until we came to the picturesque valley of Rookery Brook.  Briefly pausing here, the group then started the climb up the other side of the valley along a sheltered track offering fine views through the trees. 

Before long we came to Middle Hole, where we rejoined tarmac for a while.  Soon, though, we had to leave the lane and head off-road again, entering a large grassy field notable for the large lump of granite standing centrally within it.....

Leaving the far corner of the field we were soon led to the yard of Bowden Farm.  Here we briefly missed our route, but soon recovered to exit the farmyard correctly,  in a south-easterly direction. 

This muddy bridleway continued gently downhill for 1 km and eventually merged onto tarmac signalling the outskirts of Christow.  The remainder of the walk was quickly accomplished on lanes, luckily all downhill, and we shortly emerged on the main route through Christow just above the church.  A turn right took us past the church and soon we were back to the car park, the light on this always gloomy afternoon now starting to fade. 

The walk extended to 6.4 miles and entailed climbing from a level of 73m AOD at the car park to the high point near Middle Hole of 257 m AOD.   In all the ascents totalled some 362m, so the walk was pretty challenging for those walking again after a long lay off.  May your leg muscles recover quickly and may you soon feel the benefit!

The plot of the route can be seen on GPSies.com.

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