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24 September 2014

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Take the Mariners' Way on Dartmoor
Kestor offers a superb vantage point for the walker
According to legend, seafarers used to land on the south coast of Devon and trek all the way up to ports on the north coast. The route became known as Mariners' Way, and the Dartmoor section is now a favourite among walkers, taking in breathtaking views across the moor.
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Dartmoor National Park Authority

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Dartmoor National Park measures 368 square miles.

It's a mix of moorland and wooded valleys, with granite tors dominating the landscape.

There are some 600 miles of rights of way on Dartmoor.

Erosion has become a big problem on parts of Dartmoor, with walkers and riders and other reacreational use taking its toll.

The nearest town to Kestor is Okehampton.
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Distance: 5.5 miles
Map: Dartmoor Outdoor Lesiure No.28
Grid reference at start: SX661877
Starting point: Car park at Scorhill Farm

The story: Mariners’ Way is an ancient trackway supposed to have taken its name from the sailors who founded it. After signing off a boat in Dartmouth, they would trek across the peninsula to sign on with another boat at Bideford.

How to start: Walk back along the road from Scorhill Farm. Bear right at the lane junction to the hamlet of Berrydown then continue for about half a mile until you see a yellow waymarked signpost for Mariners' Way on the right after a block of trees.

At the first clearing bear half right along a path that begins to descend steeply. This is an area that has a lovely display of bluebells in the Spring. When you reach the river turn right along the riverside path until you reach a footbridge. Cross and climb a steep path to a broad drive at the top.

The view from Batworthy Corner
The view from Batworthy Corner

Turn left at the metalled road and after 20 yards turn right, following the Mariners’ Way towards Frenchbeer. The walking is level for a while, and a good area for wild flowers, but at a T-Junction you need to go left, downhill over very slippery rocks.

At the bottom by the Mariners' Way timber house, bear right through a gate for Frenchbeer.

Pass through another gate to enter a long meadow. Keep the hedge on the right and climb to the top right hand corner of the field. There is a stile, concealed by rhododendrons, which lies beyond a stream.

After this there is a short woodland walk. At the top there is a gate through which the footpath passes. There is a sign "Beware of the Bull," but hopefully he is occupied elsewhere. There is a boggy bit after this. After crossing this you will clamber over another stile and cross two small meadows.

The path leads into open country with views to the south and east. There is then a short section of enclosed path that leads to the thatched farmhouse of Frenchbeer. This is where you leave the Mariners' Way and turn right up a steep metalled road, which levels out after the cattle-grid and just a short distance further on is the open moor.

Turn right and head across the moor towards Frenchbeer Rock, from which there are magnificent views, including Castle Drogo. Continue in the same direction to Middle Tor and then to Kestor Rock, which is an even higher vantage point to enjoy the views.

From Kestor make for Batworthy Corner and follow the wall to the North Teign river. There are two clapper bridges, Teign-e-ver and Wallabrook. Teign-e-ver Bridge leads onto an island where the river divides. Leave the island by the other bridge and make for Scorhill Circle to the north.

Take the winding track that passes to the right of the monument (a Dartmoor stone circle that has never been restored). This leads to a broad mouthed intake which leaves the moor and brings you back to your car.

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