Set on the banks of Devon’s majestic River Teign, Mill End Hotel is a secluded country house…
Castle Drogo, built in local granite between 1911 and 1930, occupies a spectacular position high above the Teign Gorge near Drewsteignton in northeast Dartmoor. Given to the National Trust by the Drewe family in 1974, it was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens (on a budget of £60,000) and has the honour of being the ‘youngest’ castle in the country. Self-made millionaire Julius Drewe established his family seat here due to a romantic notion that his ancestors had connections with the village (he believed that he was descended from Drogo/Dru du Teine, a Norman baron), but he did not live to see his dream fully completed. An elaborate gateway designed by Lutyens, for example, was never built: Julius Drewe had lost heart in the idea after his eldest son Adrian was killed in the First World War. Drewe himself died in 1931.
The oldest landlady
The nearby village of Drewsteignton was once famous for being home to the country’s (at that time) oldest and longest-serving landlady. Mabel Mudge (Aunt Mabel) ran The Drewe Arms with her husband Ernest from 1919. After his death she remained in harness until 1994, and during that time the pub remained unchanged; even today this lovely thatched 17th-century building retains the atmosphere of yesteryear. At the time Castle Drogo was built the name of the pub was changed from The Druid Arms to The Drewe Arms.
A network of paths
This walk takes you through the edge of the Drogo Estate along the sparkling upper River Teign and, apart from one rocky section (avoidable so long as the river is low), is fairly easy, although there are some rough underfoot sections. Fingle Bridge and the pub will be buzzing with activity on sunny weekends and during holiday times. The estate is criss-crossed by a network of paths: leaflets on more local walks are available from the National Trust shop at Castle Drogo.
Walk back towards the bridge, then left through the kissing gate, following the footpath sign ‘Fingle Bridge’ (on the route of the Two Moors Way). Walk through riverside meadows, with views of Castle Drogo above left, and the steep-sided Teign Gorge ahead. Pass through a gate into oak woodland, and reach a path junction by a suspension bridge over the river, right (the return route). (The Two Moors Way goes left here.)
Follow the Fisherman’s Path signs straight on along the left bank to pass a broad pool and weir, from where water is diverted to the renovated turbine house (passed on the return), which provides Castle Drogo with electricity.
Eventually the path ascends high, rough granite steps over the base of Sharp Tor, dropping steeply to regain the riverbank (so avoiding a particularly rough stretch which is often underwater). A metal railing provides assistance over the trickiest parts. Once back on level ground continue along the riverbank path.
Pass through a small hunting gate and keep ahead to gain a weir, with benches – a great place to picnic. Water was once taken from this point to supply Fingle Bridge Mill, destroyed by fire in 1894.
Triple-arched Fingle Bridge and The Fingle Bridge Inn are reached after 2 miles (3.2km). Refreshments have been available at this picturesque spot for years; from 1877 one Jessie Ashplant sold cakes from a basket, ‘moving up’ to a shed in 1907. Cross the old packhorse bridge and turn right (through Hannicombe Wood) to return on the track which runs parallel to the river. This is fairly level and passes through mixed deciduous then coniferous woodland.
Where a small path leads right from the track go and have a look at the pumping station and leat leading from the weir below the castle. Follow the narrow path to the left of the building to rejoin the main track just before a five-bar gate. Keep ahead past a superb 8ft (2.5m) granite wall, then turn right over stone steps to pass down and over the footbridge to the other bank, to rejoin the outward route. Turn left through the gate and walk back across the meadows to your car.
Riverside paths and tracks, one steep rocky section
Deeply wooded river gorge and meadows
Dogs should be kept under control at all times
OS Explorer OL28 Dartmoor
North of Dogmarsh Bridge on A382
On south side of river at Fingle Bridge
<p>One steep ascent/descent on high, uneven steps</p>
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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