Welcome To Lower Elsford Farm, Dartmoor
Luxury cottages, beautiful indoor pool, games room…
Lustleigh is one of those perfect Devon villages that everyone just has to see. The rose-covered cottages and pub cluster tightly around the green and 13th-century Church of St John the Baptist. The quintessentially English cricket field, rushing streams and boulder-strewn hills, all nestling together in a deep wooded valley beneath the eastern fringe of Dartmoor, make this a real magnet. But Lustleigh has a problem (or perhaps an advantage?) – there is no car park, meaning that many people weave their way through the cars parked around the church and drive off again in frustration. But there is another way of getting a feel for the real Lustleigh: drive on through the village, park, and walk back in.
On a clear day…
From the ridge approaching Hunter's Tor you get a superb 360-degree view. To the south you can see the coast at Teignmouth. Following around clockwise you can pick out the familiar outline of Haytor, then Hound Tor (resembling a pack of hounds frozen in flight), Hayne Down and Bowerman's Nose, Manaton church and rocks, Easdon Tor, North Bovey, Bovey Castle, then Moretonhampstead with Mardon Down behind. Continuing round there is the stark outline of Blackingstone Rock then, far beyond on the Haldon Hills, the white tower of Haldon Belvedere, a folly erected in 1770 by Sir Robert Palk.
Lustleigh still holds a traditional May Day ceremony, which takes place on the first Saturday in May. The festival had died out, but was revived in the early years of the 20th century by Cecil Torr who, while living at Wreyland, wrote his famous three-volume work Small Talk at Wreyland, a charming record of rural life. The crowning ceremony at that time took place at Long Tor on the outskirts of the village. The May Queen, dressed in white and garlanded with spring flowers leads a procession around the village beneath a canopy of flowers which is held aloft by other Lustleigh children. She is then crowned on the May Day rock in the Town Orchard. A new granite throne was set in place on the rock to celebrate the Millennium, and the names of recent May Queens are carved below.
From the parking area walk north up the lane (away from Lustleigh) and turn left up a narrow rocky path between the houses 'Logan Stones' and 'Grove', following bridleway signs 'Cleave for Water'. At the gate go straight ahead, signed 'Hunters Tor', and climb steeply up to the top, where there are lovely views towards Hound Tor.
Walk right through oak woodland; eventually you reach open ground and follow the path straight on over the highest part of the ridge (1,063ft/324m) and across the remains of the Iron Age fort to reach Hunter's Tor.
Pass through the gate right of the tor and follow the signed path right downhill to meet another signed path left. Walk downhill through one gate, then immediately right through a gateway and descend towards Peck Farm (often muddy). Go through the gate left of the farm and straight on down the rough drive.
Shortly after turn left through a gate signed 'Foxworthy Bridge' and continue along a wooded track to reach the beautiful thatched hamlet at Foxworthy via a gate; turn right.
At the path junction go left, signed 'Horsham'. Follow the track into mixed woodland through a gate. After five minutes or so follow signs right for 'Horsham for Manaton & Water', to the River Bovey. Follow the river bank left to the 'crossing' (on huge boulders) at Horsham Steps. (Note: If you are concerned about crossing Horsham Steps, don't turn left for 'Horsham' but go right, down the drive, which crosses the river. Take the first footpath left and keep ahead until you rejoin the main route and then turn right uphill).
Cross over, taking care, and walk downstream to enter Bovey Valley Woodlands. Follow the path steeply uphill (the path avoiding Horsham Steps comes in right) and through a gate. Keep ahead through another gate by pretty cottages (note the tree-branch porch). Keep straight on up the track, following signs for 'Water' through Letchole Plantation.
At the crossroads of tracks turn right ('Manaton direct') to meet a T-junction by Water Mill. Turn right to the Kestor Inn.
Retrace your steps to the crossroads. Go straight on downhill, signed 'Bovey Valley', to a split in the track. Keep left, eventually passing through a gate, and continue down the steep, stony path. Cross the river at the bridge and proceed steeply uphill to the signpost. Go left, signed 'Lustleigh via Hammerslake', and left again at the next signpost (very steep). At the next junction keep ahead uphill; where the path forks drop right to reach the gate; turn right down the rocky path back to the lane at the start.
Steep rocky ascents/descents, rough paths and woodland
Deeply wooded river valley and open moorland
Keep on lead in fields and Bovey Valley NNR
OS Explorer OL28 Dartmoor
By side of lane at Hammerslake
None on route
WALKING IN SAFETY
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
With magnificent coastlines, two historic cities and the world-famous Dartmoor National Park, Devon sums up all that is best about the British landscape. For centuries it has been a fashionable and much loved holiday destination – especially south Devon’s glorious English Riviera.
Close to the English Riviera lies Dartmoor, one of the south-west’s most spectacular landscapes. The National Park, which contains Dartmoor, covers 365 square miles and includes many fascinating geological features – isolated granite tors and two summits exceeding 2,000 feet among them.
Not surprisingly, in Dartmoor the walking opportunities are enormous. Cycling in the two National Parks is also extremely popular and there is a good choice of off-road routes taking you to the heart of Dartmoor and Exmoor. Devon’s towns and cities offer stimulating alternatives to the rigours of the countryside.
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