Walk Distance: 3.4km
Walk Duration: 1hr 15 at a slow preschooler pace including lots of stops and toddling by the 16 month old.
Ordnance Survey: OS Explorer OL28 Dartmoor; OS Landranger 191 Okehampton & North Dartmoor
Suitable for: Babies in carriers, older children. The uphill return walk and the fact there is some significant lane walking that you need to watch for traffic on makes this less suitable for very young walkers that can’t be carried, although the main riverside stretch of the walk is lovely for walking tots. My 3 year old enjoyed the walk I did make her hold hands on the lanes. Another option to avoid the final lane section is to return the way you came.
Features: Pretty stream and riverside walking, watch out for fish, paddling. Some cattle along the route at times. Plenty of refreshment options in Chagford centre and public toilets in Chagford ‘s central square.
“Chagford is a pretty town with a long history. It lies on the edge of moody Dartmoor National Park in Devon and is a popular jumping off point for many Dartmoor walks. I used it as a welcome leg-stretcher on my long drive to Penzance with the girls, enroute to the Isles of Scilly. This little loop takes you through Chagford town and then through meadows as you follow the babbling stream of the Leat – a side-stream of the larger River Teign. The return section follows steeply up a quiet but narrow lane, so may not be suitable for walking with young children. There are also options to extend the walk towards Gidleigh if you have the time and stamina.
Back in Chagford there are loads of options to pick up a picnic, stop for tea and cake or even a pub meal. Clean public toilets can be found in the central square and the long-standing hardware and general bits & bobs store Bowden & Son came up trumps for us with local maps and a few pocket money games to entertain the girls on our travels. “
The walk starts from the main square in Chagford. If you are tight on time then you can start the walk by heading downhill past the public toilets, cafe and other cluster of shops onto Lower Street. Otherwise, start the Chaford Town & River Walk by walking along High Street in the direction of the Church and The Globe pub.
Turn left into the churchyard. There are some nice views here across Chagford and The Church of St. Michael the Archangel is an ancient building worth a peep – it was consecrated in 1261 but possibly dates back further. Look out inside for the carved verses dedicated to Mary Whiddon in the stone floor. They read:
“Reader wouldst know who here is laid,
Behold a matron yet maid,
A modest look, a pious heart,
A Mary for the better part,
But dry thine eyes, why wilt thou weep –
Such damsels do not die but sleep.”
The accompanying tale of Mary Whiddon runs along the lines that this unfortunate bride was shot by a jealous love rival as she left Chagford church on her wedding day. It is also suggested that these verses and her sad tale served as inspiration R.D. Blackmore’s famous novel Lorna Doone. The Church website reports that these days brides sometimes leave a flower from their bouquet on Mary’s tomb as they leave the church as married women as a way of showing solidarity with their less fortunate sister.
Back outside, follow the path that runs along the very edge of the churchyard and back of the buildings closest to the centre of town. Follow the little footpath as it heads downhill and leaves the churchyard. It comes out onto a small lane by the side of some houses.
Turn left along Orchard Meadows. At the end of the road you will find a narrow path weaving behind the houses on the right hand side. Follow this path. It emerges onto Betterville Close before rejoining the main road of Lower Street – the point at which those who took the more direct route will rejoin the main walk.
Walk down Lower Street to the right, following the pavement. After passing the school on your left the pavement peters out as you head to a small lane on the left hand side of the road. Take this left turn and take care if walking with children. It is a quiet lane but as with many in the area around Chagford, it is narrow and high-hedged, giving you little warning of approaching traffic.
The lane takes you down to a road bridge over the River Teign which flows past Chagford here. Just over the other side of the bridge you will find a path leading into fields on the left hand side. Take this path and follow it as it crosses diagonally towards the hedgeline opposite, leading away from the River Teign. Head through the hedge and into the next field, continuing along the path. This time as you reach a small copse the path leads up over wooden bridges before heading through a gateway. Follow the signs to Chagford Bridge.
The walk now follows the course of the stream, passing over a stone and wood stile (tiny walkers might need a hand with this one or use the gate if it’s open).
The path follows on through more fields to a wooded area where the Leat stream rejoins the main River Teign. The slopes can be a bit muddy here after rain so keep an eye on little ones though there are options to walk further back from the riverside although for the adventurous there is also a makeshift rope swing across the water down below.
Back out into the fields again and the path leads along the mirror glass calm of the River Teign waterside. We saw fish surfacing here! Carry on over a little bridge and then on through a small kissing gate. A little further on and you come to a fork in the path. The riverside path appears to continue but you actually want to turn right here and through the gate into the meadows beyond with a large house in the background. Through yet another gate and continue to walk past some rather fine oak trees surrounded by stone circular walls. The path follows the fenceline before leaving the estate behind and continuing on a narrow dirt track.
On through another gate and the walk takes you back onto an often quaggy mud track that will take you towards the road. A final kissing gate and the riverside and country stretch of the Chagford Town & River Walk is finished.
From here, turn left and over the bridge crossing the River Teign. Continue along the lane until you reach a t-junction. Take the left hand road past the sign welcoming you back to Chagford, From here the lane winds steeply uphill to Chagford on a narrow road. It’s not very busy (although I imagine you would need to take greater care on a busy weekend) but again, the narrow road and high walls make it hard to anticipate oncoming traffic. This is the one stretch of the walk I did not enjoy walking with my independent 3 year old though older children or toddlers who can still be carried by fit parents would probably be fine.
As Mill Street reenters the main part of Chagford, walk straight on it. This will drop you back to the central square in Chagford from where you started the walk.
Map of Route:
There is plenty of parking in Chagford, both on the street and around Chagford’s central square. Chagford can also be reached by public transport – there is a really informative page on the different options for buses on the Chagford Parish Council page.
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