This medium difficulty walk takes in an old potato starch factory and a beautiful waterfall...
DISTANCE: 6 miles (medium difficulty)
NEAREST REFRESHMENTS: Postbridge or Princetown
FACILITIES: Small information centre and toilets
CAR PARKING: Dartmoor National Park Authority car park.
PUBLIC TRANSPORT: The Transmoor link (service 82) in the summer on Sundays between Plymouth and Exeter
I’d decided to put myself into the capable hands of the Dartmoor National Park Authority to find the waterfall on the East Dart river as I followed it’s audio walk.
Having printed off the route map so I could reference my OS map, and downloaded the audio onto my iPod I turned up at the car park in Postbridge (SX 648 789) on an overcast day. I was looking to take some long exposure shots at the waterfall so an overcast day was perfect but I’d packed a mac and sunglasses anyway - and needed both!
Leave the car park and turn left onto the road and admire the ancient clapper bridge (SX 648 789). According to the audio, if you can see the stones in front of the clapper bridge from the other bridge then you will be able to cross the waterfall. If they are covered by water the river will be too high to cross. I’m happy to say the stones were visible and I was able to cross later on.
Just over the road bridge the footpath is on your left through a wooden gate. Follow it along and past Hartyland House (SX 646 794), which was built in the 19th century.
Follow the path along past some bamboo bushes where the path will start to climb. On the left you can see Roundypark enclosure which you’ll pass on the way back. For now carry up the hill to Hartland Tor (SX 642 799) for some good views of the area.
From here the next stop is The Sheepfold, but don't walk directly to it, follow the path along parallel with river (but higher) and after crossing second granite wall take a right and follow it along to it.
I did wonder whether to bother taking a closer look but it was worth a little detour as it’s a unique piece of building work. The Sheepfold (SX 645 808) built by John and Thomas Hullett at the beginning of the 19th century. The same brothers who built Hartyland House. It was built as a place where starch was manufactured from growing potatoes. The starch was used for the main sails of the boats.
The starch factory business failed and it was taken over by a shepherd in the 1830s/1840s, who restored it for use with lambing. The design is quite unusual for the moor.
With the five-barred gate behind me I headed away from The Sheepfold across an area of gorse to the right of the mound and ended up back on the path that runs from Hartland Tor. It wasn’t too long before I came to tracks leading down to the river so followed them down, then located the Beehive Hut (SX 639 814) a little to the right. There are no bees here! This was a cache for tools and possibly a shelter used by tin miners.
There is path which follows the East Dart river up to the waterfall, though there is a smaller waterfall on your right on the way up - this isn’t it! The main waterfall (SX 628 811) is a lovely place for a picnic.
I managed to snap a couple of long exposure shots before the heavens opened and drenched me and my camera. Safely under my waterproof I crossed the top of the waterfall and followed the path parallel to the river, down to a stile (SX 637 814). If you want a shorter, more direct route back to Postbridge follow the path over the top of the hill.
The path follows the river and is quite pretty and you can see a change in the landscape here. Along the path at SX 639 812 are two granite slabs which make a small clapper bridge. Beyond that is a dry ditch which is the start of Powdermills Leat.
The last stop on the audio tour is Roundypark Cairn (SX 639 797). In the centre of the circular, prehistoric enclosure is a granite monument. This is a Bronze Age burial cairn.
The path takes you back to the car park at Postbridge and the sun had come out. I was still feeling a little damp so I visited the shop by the road bridge for a take out hot chocolate and sat by the clapper bridge, enjoying the last glow of the afternoon.
I can recommend the audio walks. Find them here