Jude was a little late at the start but eventually we set off at 10:45 to ride through Coxhill Cross and up the hill past Nurston Farm. We were in fine form today and quickly arrived at Shipley Bridge, where we were surprised to see that the car park seemed to have been dug up and left much rougher than it used to be. At least the rhododendrons that had been brutally hacked to the ground on the other side of the river a couple of years ago were now growing back to heal the scars.
Continuing on up the path towards the Dam we noticed that huge piles of stones had been dumped into the river Avon at regular intervals: they really didn’t add to the general attractiveness of the area and we wondered what possible reason South West Water could have had for despoiling the area in this way, since the river bed does not appear to have suffered any significant erosion in the thirty or more years we have been visiting it.
Jude asked a very sensible question about the origins of the old ruins on the left of the path. They mark the location of Brent Moor House, a mansion that was later a youth hostel until 1955. When the dam was built higher up the valley the Water Authority decided that the hostel would have to close, and a few years later they allowed the army to blow it up as part of their training exercises.
The reservoir was nearly full today after a very dry summer, but we didn’t stay long to admire the views, pressing on along the rough path that led us to the Abbot’s Way bridleway across the moor. From here we rode up to Gripper’s Hill where views opened out across the whole of South Devon, from Kingsbridge to Widecombe. We then enjoyed the great downhill ride across the moor, through Water Oak Corner and onwards to Cross Furzes, concluding an excellent moorland morning ride. Both Dillan and Jude rode easily through the ford today, although Jude did get a pair of wet feet in the process.
Dillan and Jude by the Avon on the path up to the Avon Dam
Brent Moor House, Shipley Bridge, as it used to look in its heydey
The Avon Dam, almost full
The Avon Dam, looking back to the open moor
Gripper's Hill, offering spectacular views over the whole of South Devon
Teignmouth, Newton Abbot and Torquay, from Gripper's Hill
The great descent towards Cross Furzes, at Water Oak Corner
Jude successully negotiates the ford near Cross Furzes