A cold crisp mid-February Saturday. Time for another winter hike on the stunning lands of Dartmoor National Park. This time I am visiting Fernworthy Reservoir and its surrounding area.
Since my last hike around Haytor and Saddle Tor, I have been itching to get back out and explore more of Dartmoor. Having only lived in Devon for a short amount of time I am yet to explore a lot of the beauty that this national park has to offer. With every hike, I am getting to experience and enjoy the moors, my love for it growing.
Now every adventure needs to be prepared for.
After our last hike, I order a new map of Dartmoor. I went for one of the OS leisure maps (you can read a bit more about it in my Winter Favourites 17-18 (coming soon!)) then spent an evening looking it over and making note of the places I want to visit. Plotting a route on the ViewRanger app and on the hardcopy map. I decided to head to Fernworthy Reservoir and the forest that surrounds it. A good 9.5k hike.
Kitting up with all the thermal layers I could get my hands on, along with the ever growing camera kit, Joe and I headed off for our longest hike to date. It took us about an hour to get to Fernworthy Reservoir driving along the stereotypical Dartmoor winded single track lanes.
As soon as we got there we were stunned by the beauty in front of us! The bright blue sky lit up the reservoir in front of me, it reminded me of photos of the lakes in Scotland.
Naturally out came the camera to capture this beautful corner of Dartmoor
Heres a fact for you. The water from Fernworthy Reservoir gravity feeds into Trenchford reservoir and the water is then used to supply the local town of Torquay with drinking water. You can find out more information on Fernworthy by going to the South West Lakes Trust website. What I like about Fernworthy Reservoir is that there is something for everyone there. An accessible path to the right-hand side of the reservoir for everyone no matter their ability can enjoy. Then there is the round trip footpath that does a loop all around Fernworthy Reservoir for those wanting a longer walk, and finally, for the more seasoned hikers, you can hike around Fernworthy Reservoir and forest then head out onto the moors too.
Starting off by heading around Fernworthy reservoir passing some of the bird watching huts and onto the main road leading towards the wood. Crossing over Sandyman Bridge then taking the next left onto one of the logging tracks. Now, these tracks are wide and sturdy to walk on, but some days there would be logging machines working so I’d watch out for them. As we walked it felt like walking through a wonderland, Huge fir trees on both sides of the path. Then there were the little waterfalls and streams running in between the trees. I just couldn’t put my camera down!
We followed our route and started walking up Toms Hill. In my opinion, Tom can keep his hill! My top tip for any hill no matter how small it is, to just keep going and don’t stop until you get to the top. If you stop you have to build up momentum to get going again, and that’s the hardest bit.
So after getting up Toms Hill, we found the stone hut circles. This is an ideal place to stop for a hot chocolate break before continuing on with our hike. We doubled back on ourselves yourself heading up a path steeper than Toms Hill. However, this route had a twist. It was covered in various natural debris. Full of scattered branches then in some sections a sinking mixture of sand and dirt. Joe says that it was like walking on a chocolate brownie. Crisp on top but soft and squidgey underneath. The path was very hard to walk on, but the branches made steps in the track almost like climbing stairs.
Getting to the top of the footpath was great as the path became better, not for long though. Over half way now and we are now at the far side of Fernworthy woods. We had a joining footpath that would meet up with the main trail and lead up towards the farm ruin. However, this path took a rather urm, sinking turn.
Around a third of the way, the ground started to get change into that brownie-like consistency again, so sticking to the harder sturdy centre of the path we plodded along. 5 minutes of ankle depth sinking, I took a step and just sunk. All the way up to my knee. I was stuck in the sinking mud path. Oops. Joe very nicely did what every partner would do and that’s laugh, I laughed too until I got myself to the side of the path and saw the state of my walking boots!
Things happen in 3’s right? So after the debris track and brownie boots whats next…
Checking our GPS location on my phone turned out to be harder than first though. My phone had died, half a battery to dead in around 5 minutes. Ah well, nothing could be done but get our trusty map out and figure out roughly where we were. After establishing that we could meet the boundary of the woods and the footpath around, we set about crossing the people eating mud path. A few large sticks to judge the route and some mud filled boots and socks later we were on the mossy forest floor. Opting to walk alongside one of the side paths we set off again in the direction of the forest boundary.
Reaching an opening in the fence we stepped out of the forest and onto the moors. Vast simple moorlands, the view around us was amazing. Heading down the foot we caught up with the main path. The day was starting to shorten, the time spent pulling my boots out of various sinkholes was longer than expected. So we decided to miss out the extended route up to the farm ruin and kept on with the main route.
Stopping for another snack break we started heading back down the main track towards the reservoir. It was a nice downhill slope all the way. Around 3 quarters of the way down the path, there is a clearing. This clearing has the Fernworthy Stone Circle in it. The stone circle is made up of 27 granite stones and was first formed in the Bronze Age. Another name the circle is known by is Froggymead.
Finally we made it back to Fernworthy Reservoir, de-kitting all the muddy boots, trousers and socks. Ready to be cleaned for our next adventure. Luckily my boots now look a lot cleaner after a good scrub. Also this adventure was shared in my Instagram stories so for behind the hike photos go check it out at www.instagram.com/mindfuladvblog
Have you had any mishaps when hiking? Those ones that make you laugh when you look back on them. Is so then share them below!
See you next time and happy adventuring!
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