Dartmoor: A stroll up the East Okement
|The wonderful East Okement Valley|
I was fortunate to have to drive down from Uxbridge to Okehampton mid week because British Telecom were finally installing a phone and, more importantly, broadband, into base camp. With that all sorted on the Thursday, it left me with a couple of days to go a wandering. I started with a short walk from my front door, one which took me into a wonderful woodland paradise that I am blessed to call my local patch, and left me baffled as to why I had never been there before!
Just off the Exeter Road, near Okehampton, a narrow lane drops down to Father Ford, on the East Okement river. There is a small area for parking, but little need for me to use it with home being so close.
|Heading down to Father Ford|
Through a gate, you reach the ford, nestled beside the viaduct that sadly now only takes a seasonal tourist service.
|The Viaduct near Father Ford|
No need to ford the river, the other side of the viaduct, there is Charlotte's bridge, built in memory of 12 year old Charlotte Saunders, who tragically lost her life when trying to cross the river in 2001; a sad incident at such a beautiful spot. I paused awhile, a mark of respect.
I weighed up choices at the signpost, and opted for the East Okement Valley footpath. Soon you are immersed in woodland with idyllic scenes of rushing water.
|Following the East Okement Valley Footpath|
Jenny How, of Visit Dartmoor, later told me that not many people pass the stepping stones, and sure enough, I had the valley all to myself once crossed.
|Stepping Stones for times of higher water|
Eventually, the open moor comes into sight, at Chapel Ford. Like Father Ford, further downstream, using it would lead to a soggy boot or two, but there is a perfectly good bridge to get you across the river.
|The bridge onto the moor near Chapel Ford|
From here there is the option to return via Cleave Tor, but I was so taken with the woods, I was keen to walk the route again. I ambled back with a satisfied smug grin, I think I'm going to like living here!