Ivan takes in the glorious view
Meeting the mud monster at Ashwater
By Jo Bishop
As part of BBC Radio Devon's 25th anniversary celebrations, listener Ivan Buxton takes us on his favourite walk at Ashwater, in north-west Devon.
I'm not solely a fair-weather walker, but I'm certainly more likely to venture out when the sun is shining, than not.
However, the invitation from BBC Radio Devon listener Ivan Buxton to trudge through the mud of the Carey valley, hopefully in the rain, proved too intriguing to turn down.
In his description Ivan wrote: "Choose a wet day (not difficult) but if dry overhead you can be sure the clay underfoot will not disappoint!
"Start and finish at the pub - what better incentive. The mud-monster is at his best as you trudge through the mire to cross the hidden footbridges over the River Carey.
"You will not be alone - there are the buzzards for company, slog up deserted hills and trudge along empty saturated lanes - but just when you are about to expire, the welcoming sign to the village inn spurs you on to survival.
"There is nothing like the taste of fresh mud and rain to make you appreciate life and how to live it - enjoy it and bitch about the experience afterwards."
We planned to meet on the 13th of the month, an auspicious date for rain, Ivan was sure.
As it turned out the morning dawned bright and sunny with blue skies above. But underfoot was certainly a different story, with plenty of squelching through the fields and the valley.
Ivan's walk starts from the village green in Ashwater, a small picturesque village, a mile off the A388 Holsworthy to Launceston road.
The peace and quiet is striking. Ivan said: "It's a tranquil and rural pocket of Devon which remains undiscovered. Basically people find it by accident. We don't want too many people to discover it though, we don't want too many hordes descending."
The church at Ashwater
Head away from the pub with the green on your right towards the 13th century village church of St. Peter ad Vincula, which Ivan told me is a rare name meaning St Peter in chains.
Opposite the church, take the signed footpath left, through an ornate metal gate, down an enclosed track – the path to the old rectory.
Go through a second gate, ignore paths left and right until you shortly reach a tarmac lane, where you turn right.
A muddy place
Head straight across at the Cross Lanes junction, signposted for Halwill and Quoditch. You shortly pass the Methodist Chapel on your left and the lane continues on through the peaceful hamlet of Quoditch – the name has a number of pronunciations and roughly translates as "a muddy place".
The road bends left and right through Quoditch and shortly on your right you reach South Quoditch Farm. Turn right here off the road following a public footpath sign past farm buildings, onto a track and shortly through to open fields.
You're now overlooking the Carey valley, with splendid views. To the left is Halwill and Halwill junction and to the right is a fine distant view of Ashwater church.
The stile which keeps you on the right path
A rather unusual free-standing stile partway down the hill indicates the path to follow.
On reaching the stile, you have the choice of going around or over, and then on to and over a further stile which leads into a woodland. A pretty path takes you down to the River Carey and a spanking new footbridge spans the water.
It's then a case of mud glorious mud across the field.
As we squelched our way across, Ivan said: "My wife lost her wellingtons at one stage when we just came down for a half-hour walk, but usually we wear proper boots.
"There are tourists who've been known to come down in flip-flops, take one look and never come back again."
Looking at my boots encased in clayey-mud I had to say, I wasn't surprised.
From the field, cross the old North Cornwall railway line and head uphill along the edge of more fields and a track that leads you into the concrete drive of Higher and Lower Beckett Farm. Shortly you reach a junction on a bend and turn right on to a tarmac lane.
Follow this lane as it meanders through the Carey valley with scenic views to the river and old railway bridges. After approximately 1.5 miles you reach Ashmill, where you cross back over the River Carey, and shortly fork left for Ashwater also signed to the Village Inn.
A short but slightly taxing walk uphill is the perfect reason for stopping for a refreshing drink, but make sure you knock that mud off your boots first!
last updated: 07/04/2008 at 16:18
Ivan's Ashwater Walk
Start/finish grid reference: SX 385 955
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