Hello, I’m Kipper, late co-owner of The Forest Inn, who had responsibility for Security and Entertainment.
The Forest Inn is a good place to walk from. Actually, it’s a pretty good place to walk to, as well.
The chances are you’ve had a longish drive to get here. But if you wound down your window as you crossed Hexworthy bridge, and you heard the Dart doing its river thing from the moor to the sea, then the chances are you wound down yourself.
So you check in, have a brilliant dinner, get a couple of rum & shrubs down your neck and have a pleasant night with your loved one. Or wife or husband. Whatever. Big breakfast the next morning and then a WALK. You’re in the country so you have to walk.
Ideally you’ll have a decent map, preferably the Ordnance Survey Outdoor Leisure Map 28. [Some walkers swear by Harvey’s Superwalker series and their new waterproof map of Dartmoor is out now. Why would anyone need a waterproof map?]
If this is your first visit, start off with a couple of walkettes to get your bearings. Walk down along the front of the building until you reach the end of the metalled road at the farmyard. Turn left up past Thimble Hall and follow a roughish path up to the Sherberton Road.
Turn right when you reach the road and straightaway from the cattle grid you’ll have a gorgeous view towards Princetown [the North Hessary tv mast makes a great landmark]. You’re now on a metalled road which drops quite steeply downwards. Soon it forks right towards Sherberton [ponytrekking] but stay left for a quarter of a mile or so until a footbridge on your right takes you across the River Swincombe.
The path the other side is usually a bit wet but persevere for a hundred yards or so and look for a ruined house in on your right. This is known as John Bishop’s House, after a skilled stone builder about whom there are many tales and yarns. Look at the skill of the building work and the remarkable porch still half standing. It’s a lovely quiet place.
OK. For now I suggest you retrace your steps back up to the cattle grid. This time, stay on the metalled road instead of dropping back down the track into Hexworthy. This road leads you to the Hexworthy-Holne road. When you reach it, turn right and walk the half mile or so down to Saddle Bridge which crosses the O Brook.
On the right hand side of the road here there are some vague remains of walls and metal grills. This is all that remains of a turbine house [built in 1907] which provided power for the Hexworthy Mine a couple of miles on upstream. If you follow the stream, you’ll come to it. If you do that, use the stream as your guide and return to this point.
Another pleasant diversion is to take the downstream path to the left immediately at the end of the bridge. It’s awkward going but very pretty and you may see, or more likely hear various warblers all around you as you go. The wizard path follows the O Brook until it tips into the Dart at Week Ford. Another lovely spot to sit and muse about dinner.
If it is safe to brave the stepping stones at Week Ford, you can do that and follow the track the other side until it emerges just up from the small church and a little before Hexworthy Bridge. Turn left and walk back down the road to Hexworthy Bridge. And then up the road to the Forest.
If you don’t take the stepping stones, retrace your steps back up the O Brook to Saddle Bridge and return the way you came, following the road all the way back to the Forest.