On this page we encourage our members to contribute their suggestions on where to Ride and Walk. Inevitably some of these routes will involve crossing some busy roads and riders need to be aware of these hazards. Needless to say, however, no responsibility is accepted and you clearly ride at your own risk.
If you have a ride or walk, plus a photo if you have one, you would like to share with other members please email Cadi at firstname.lastname@example.org plus if you could add directions and available parking.
I was involved in the initial bid to develop these trails and encouraged their use for everyone. As ever with multi use trails, it is a case of courtesy and a smile to other users. There are 26 kilometres of tracks to explore here, almost all multi use. The trails are surfaced and free to use all year round, but there is a parking charge in the car park which is on the right as you descend the hill from the Tavistock direction towards Gunnislake Bridge. I know, we all moan about parking charges, but they are used to keep this wonderful facility open.
If you leave the car park and turn left you can do a figure of eight circuit of about 7 km. If you turn right there is a longer linear route of about 10 or 12 km. It is almost all off road, with a road crossing of a minor road, and a short section on a minor road. You can just go as far as Canal Portal which you reach after crossing a wooden bridge, or carry on and do a loop round Maddacleave woods. There is a long, steep and rough section up to the car park. Strictly speaking one should not do a loop because one part is designated for cyclists but neither I nor any of my friends have encountered a cyclist. Maddacleave Woods is for serious downhill mountain bikers (not on the riding bit) and the cyclists’ trail was for them to cycle back up after their hair raising descent! In practice, all the mountain bikers I have seen get a lift on a vehicle! If you do a loop, please watch out for cyclists and give way.
Happy riding – we would love to hear how you get on! Gretta Madigan.
A stunning area of Forestry is accessible at Roadford Lake, located between Launceston and Okehampton – map ref: LR190 421900. South West Lakes Trust have opened various trails to allow Multi Use including Horse Riders.
A simple circuit, approx 1hr – 1hr 15mins, for on and off road riding starts at Headson Car Park, suitable for Horsebox Parking. Follow the permissive Bridleway, into the Forest, this is picturesque and very varied. This ends on a lane (no through road, leading to the lake and further riding trails). To return by road, turn left and then left again onto the public highway to return to Headson Car Park. At the staggered junction, turn left and shortly you will come to the track to the car park on your left.
An alternative route avoiding the Public Highway and creating a loop, is cross over the no through road lane and through a gate into the forest. Follow the stone track which leads slightly downhill and through the various cycle path crossings until you come to another gate onto the no through road lane and turn right. This takes you back to the crossing point to return using the permissive Bridleway to Headson. Approx 1hr 15mins – 1hrs 30mins.
EXPLORE PART OF THE GRANITE WAY.
A circuit ride taking approx.. 1hr – 1hr 15mins.
This ride is a favourite of ours. Mum and I rode this route on the 16th August 2014. It takes in scenic views of Dartmoor and goes along the newly opened part of The Granite Way, which is the old railway line running through from Okehampton to Lydford. It is a multi use route. We hardly met anyone on it though, just a dog walker, whose Collie obviously enjoys a game of sticks!, a cyclist passed us with no problems and a group of joggers. It was a very peaceful ride. Click on this link to show Ordnance Survey Map of ride. The maps have not been updated to show new section but it is basically the old railway line shown on the map and is easy to follow.
The ride begins at the newly opened section on Station Road, just down from the Fox and hounds Pub towards Bridestowe, off the A386. There is parking available on this wide section of road.
We began by riding toward Bridestowe along the lane. Follow the lane until you get to crossing point of two Public Byways. Take the one on your right. (The one the left leads to Fernworthy Down and Lydford.) This byway is a stone track leading to a few houses. It does cross two streams, fairly wide.
On reaching the end of the track turn right down a hill to the crossing point at The Bearslake Inn. This crosses the A386 so please be aware of the traffic which uses this road. Directly opposite this lane besides The Bearslake is a Public Bridleway leading to Dartmoor and The Granite Way. This track is delightful and leads through a stream and then under Lake Viaduct. This Viaduct is spectacular and well worth seeing. As you pass underneath it you come to two gates. The one directly ahead leads onto the Moor. To do the circuit use the small gate on your right. This leads over a wooden bridge up onto The Granite Way. Once on the Granite Way turn left leaving the Viaduct behind you.
The path is tarmac, with a grass and stone verge on one side for riders in places. This is still growing and settling in following all the work which went into it. You will pass under two more smaller railway bridges including under the A386, also past the old station at Southerly Halt, and a couple of old small railway huts. When you start to climb up a small hill you will then be nearly back on the lane where you began.
Hope you enjoy this route Cadi.
THORNDON CROSS TO DARTMOOR CIRCULAR.
Starting from Thorndon cross. This can be found about 4 miles out of Okehampton on the A3079 to Holsworthy. It is clearly marked and there is a place to park a small lorry or trailer on the left hand side almost opposite the bus stop. We estimate the distance to be 7 or 8 miles (no more than a guess)and it takes about three hours if like us you stop to admire the scenery.
Take the small unclassified road signposted to Thorndon and follow it down and then up what is known as “Hard Hill” and go straight over the cross roads at the top. About two and a half miles from where you started and after passing under the A30 dual carriage way you will come to Week Farm which is clearly marked. Turn left up an unmade lane (called Week Lane). At the top this levels out nicely and, with care you can have a brisk trot or even a canter virtually to the end where it drops down steeply to the old A 30. Go straight across this road (taking care as visibility is good but the traffic is fast moving) and descend in to the hamlet of Forda and then up again to the village of Sourton. Here carefully cross the A 386 and ride up to Dartmoor leaving the village hall on your left hand side. This may provide another parking opportunity but be careful not to take Church parking on a Sunday or to cause an obstruction.
For this ride we will bear left leaving Sourton Tor on the right hand side. The views from here are magnificent and there are some pleasant spots for a canter but keep a look out for protruding rocks. There is also a road on to the Moor from here which goes up to Prewley water works and is probably the easiest place on the route to park a horse box. Follow the track that rises fairly gently in an Easterly direction and eventually you will come out just to the left of the old Ice Works. The area to the right provides some wonderful opportunities for fast gallops but our ride today take us down to the stone wall that appears on the right. Follow this down to a gate which leads through to a pleasant track eventually coming out at Meldon and becoming a made up road. Follow the road out of Meldon turning neither right or left and go over the A 30 dual carriageway. Keep away from the side as the rails are quite low. Our horses seem to ignore the traffic but be aware of your horse being spooked by something unusual such as a badly secured sheet or load. On reaching the other side ignore the slip road but about 100 yards after turn sharp left and follow the road up to the A 386. Here again cross with care. There are horse warning signs and visibility has been improved by the council. Follow this road down to a bridge and turn right immediately before on to our magnificent new bridleway which follows the old railway track all the way back to Thorndon. Here again there are opportunities for canters and gallops but be aware of other users.
On reaching Thorndon Cross come out on the the A3079 and turn left. Stop look and listen. Take care but there are a number of horse warning signs here and motorists are almost always very considerate. After a few yards you will be back at your starting point We hope if you try this ride you will enjoy it as much as we do. Richard and Avril Leonard.
A walk on the wild side.
Locals and holiday makers alike may be looking for somewhere to go that is not going to cost a lot of money, just needs a bit of dry weather and will provide some healthy fresh air and exercise.
One possibility is the super new bridleway that runs from the A386 some three or four miles to Venn gate on the A3079. Originally part of the Southern Railway used by the Atlantic Coast Express, you don’t need a horse to enjoy it although it really is a splendid ride. Walkers and cyclists are equally welcome and there is a good long stretch running North from Thorndon Cross that can be easily negotiated with a push chair. In the first few weeks of opening it was enjoyed by over 400 walkers and 84 riders and use is steadily increasing. For the more adventurous there are a number of bridleways and footpaths branching off that provide circular walks through fields forestry and a golf course.
To try the bridleway Thorndon Cross (4 miles NW of Okehampton on the A3079 Holsworthy Road and clearly marked when you get there) is probably the easiest place to start. There is a small free parking area almost opposite the bus stop, and an excellent Bus Service (X9) during the day. From here cross the A3079 turn right and walk a few yards to find the bridleway running North from this side of the road and South on the other side.
Start by walking North and for the first mile or so the bridleway has a well made level surface and is suitable for people of all ages and ability. Dogs should, as always, be kept under control.
For the more adventurous there are a number of bridleways and footpaths leading off from the main bridleway at various points along the route all of which can be used to provide circular walks. Gates on the bridleway found open should be left open while those that are found shut should be left shut. Notice the complete absence of litter and leave it as you find it. Enjoy the spectacular view of Dartmoor behind you Exmoor to the North East and Bodmin Moor to the West. At one point all three can be seen at the same time. Much of the surrounding area remains some of the most sparsely populated in the whole of Southern England and has a real rural feel.
Walking on the wild side, rabbits and if you are really lucky, deer, buzzards and even foxes can all be seen. Farm animals including Jacobs Sheep, Cattle and a really spectacular herd of ponies with their young can all be safely observed from behind secure fences but don’t be tempted to feed any of them. Those wishing for a longer circular walk can turn right along the unclassified road at the Northern end and after approximately a couple of miles or so can walk along the bridleway commencing at Wadland Barton, in to the Wadland forestry plantation and back through a choice of existing routes to the bridleway. Alternatively walk half a mile further along the road and go directly in to the Wadland Plantation. Remember always to keep your dog well under control when walking through open forestry and farmland.
At a time when money is tight, walking can provide a splendid afternoons recreation and enjoyment for the whole family and the cost can be no more than the expense of getting there. So why not give it a try and if you enjoy it Come again and go South next time when some road work at the far end will get you to Dartmoor.