There is no ‘bucket list’ - Lynne and I are both well, thank you – but we have arrived at a point in our lives where we have the time, the money and the good health to indulge in a passion for travel. We know how lucky and privileged we are to be able to do this, and we know it won’t last for ever, but while it does…..

Thursday, 27 April 2017

Bennett's Cross to Lustleigh: Day 30 of the South West Odyssey (English Branch)

The South West Odyssey is a long distance walk.
Five like-minded people started in 2008 from the Cardingmill Valley in Shropshire and by walking three days a year have now (April 2018) reached Ringmore on the South Devon Coast (almost).

A Tedious Little Prologue (skip if you have read Day 28 or 29)

The ‘five like-minded people’ would only be 4 again this year. I did my preparations and after four full-day practice walks with Mike and Francis and some solo strolls I was feeling fit and ready… except for a nagging little pain beneath my right heel.

Then, with less than a week to go, a further morning’s walk saw that nagging little pain exploded into something I could no longer ignore. It was no better next day and a trip to A&E resulted in a diagnosis of plantar fasciisitis, inflammation of and/or damage to the tendon where it joins the heel bone. And the cure? Rest, probably for several months.

But the accommodation was booked so Lynne and I went anyway. There were cars to shuffle which Lynne usually does on her own, food to be eaten and beer to be drunk for which my talents might be needed.

I found these three days frustrating, transferring people to starts, collecting them from finishes and in between hobbling around various tourist sites.

Day 30, Bennett's Cross to Lustleigh
The morning started with scrapping ice from car windscreens before I followed Mike and Alison to Lustleigh where they left their cars at the end of walk. After breakfast I took the walkers back out to Bennett’s Cross. There was no snow today, instead there was a platoon of soldiers with packs and rifles preparing for a yomp across the moor. As the others pulled on their boots the soldiers appeared to be forming a firing squad so I courageously decided to leave. On mature reflection I realise I was in no danger, it was Alison they were after – several decades as a pacifist-activist must have made her enemies in the military!

Bennett's Cross on a bright but cold morning (Photo: Brian)

Francis now describes the walk. He also took the pictures (except where noted).

We re-joined The Two Moors Way but only for a kilometre as we inadvertently veered off our planned route over Birch Tor.

Climbing across Birch Tor
We could see the unmistakeable outline of Grimspound on the hillside east of us so took a path to Headland Warren Farm then another across Hookney Tor….

Hookney Tor looking back to the Warren House Inn near Bennett's Cross (photo: Brian)
…. to the pound. Grimspound is a Bronze Age settlement and apparently 24 huts have been found in it. They were all enclosed by a large double circle of granite stones but over time their walls have collapsed inwards to leave a single much lower circle.

Grimspound Bronze Age Settlement (Photo: Vince Hogg)
(Apologies for the interruption: the only way to take a meaningful picture of Grimspound is form the air. As no one was carrying a drone in their pack I have taken Francis' advice and stolen this one from Wikipedia. Thanks to Vince Hogg, who took the picture and holds the copyright.)

We continued on over the summit of the ridge and steadily down for our coffee stop on the grass near Natsworthy Manor then followed a track to Jay’s Grave. We joined a road here for just over a kilometre then headed uphill over Hound Tor Down passing Hound Tor on our left and Greator Rocks on our right.

Hound Tor
The path led down through woods to Becka Brook then up onto the side of Black Hill. We crossed a high minor road then steadily descended to the car park we want to use next year on a slightly lower road. From there we descended steeply and then precipitously down through a deciduous wood to a track at its base - the shortest possible route to Lustleigh.
Here we had some brief refreshment after the ordeal of our descent then crossed a small packhorse bridge across the River Bovey....

Mike and Alison and the River Bovey

before ascending and zigzagging on a track through Hisley Wood passing some excellent bluebells and reaching the minor road into Lustleigh.
Bluebells in Hisley Wood (Photo: Brian)
We planned to finish with a cream tea at the tea rooms but they were closed for renovation so instead we enjoyed drinks in The Cleave. Finally we walked to the cars, and so ended the tenth year of the Odyssey. For the four of us it had been a very enjoyable three days and we look forward to next year’s instalment.

The Cleave Inn, Lustleigh (Photo:Me - we joined the walkers at The Cleave)
But for the fifth it had been a frustrating time. Last year the walking had not been outstanding, much of it merely a matter of getting from A to B but this year had crossed fine walking country in almost perfect conditions – and I missed it. I hope I will get down to Devon later in the year and will then be able to look forward to the next instalment with everybody else.

Today's distance 17km
The total distance for the three days 61km


  1. The trainee soldiers did indeed seem to be pointing their guns at me. I was so relaxed I took a photo, (but it didn’t work because my phone wasn’t charged). I do appreciate living in a country where I’m not worried by the military, even though the government know I don’t agree with them.
    Jay’s grave was apparently a suicide, so not buried in a churchyard. One of the many hard-done-by women in the 19th century, exploited then accused of being a slut. Her grave has become a tourist attraction, with people leaving flowers and other mementoes. No photos, no battery.
    A lovely walk all round. Hope you recover well David - you'll enjoy it.

  2. The precipitous descent to The River Bovey was the shortest route we could take but with hindsight perhaps not a wise move. When you and Brian go again you will avoid it by leaving a car at the car park above.