There is an array of formal and informal leisure opportunities available in and around the town, and, of course, the vast wilderness of Dartmoor National Park and the tranquil South Hams countryside offer both families and the serious walker a plethora of inspiring routes.
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It is in the beautiful setting of a small valley with a brook cascading from its source on Dartmoor through ponds and over waterfalls towards the River Erme. These spectacular gardens are open to the public on various occasions during the spring and autumn and there is also a tea room and children’s trail. For details telephone 01752 893390/691749.
www.ivybridgewatermark.co.uk or telephone 01752 892220 for a "What's On Guide".
Just another short walk over a bridge beside the Mayflower Steps brings you to the National Marine Aquarium, one of the UK’s largest aquariums, and the first to be built solely for the purpose of education, conservation and research. Visitors to the aquarium will enjoy the many fascinating and fun exhibits aimed at educating all ages about the conservation of marine life. With hundreds of marine species for visitors to see, a walk through an underwater tunnel and Europe’s deepest tank there is something to see and do for everyone.
Ivybridge is ideally located for a variety of walks providing the opportunity to enjoy varied countryside, woodland and riverside scenery. For the hardened walker Ivybridge marks the start of long distance walks both north and south – the Two Moors way leads one to Lynton (102 miles away) and the Erme Valley trail continues southwards to Ermington (3 miles away); the latter trail then links with the Erme Plym Trail at Sequers Bridge, near Ermington, which continues to the coast at Wembury and then on to the centre of Plymouth; the leg from Ermington to Plymouth is 10 miles with a spur to Wembury.
A little friendlier for the casual walker are the following walks .....
Car parking: in one of the car parks near to the Town Hall.
Alongside the Harford Road short stay car park is the much-photographed old Ivy Bridge. With your back to London Court cross the bridge, turn right and walk up Station Road, which is a continuation of Erme Road. Not far up this road you will note the Mill emergency entrance to your right. Just above that is a footpath marked with a wooden finger post.
Enter the path and walk along this to experience some spectacular views with the River Erme tumbling through gorges on its way to the sea. The path soon enters Longtimber Woods by crossing a bridge over the leat. The path climbs steeply now and passes underneath both viaducts into the Woods proper. The derelict viaduct was designed and built by I K Brunel who lived locally whilst the line was being built -originally the line was designed for Brunel’s Atmospheric Railway. Turn right at the top. As you walk along this path you will soon see the remains of the “swimming pool”, converted from a former reservoir but now overgrown with vegetation, which was once extremely popular with local youngsters. Whilst the Americans were based in the town prior to D-Day they made use of this pool in their training exercises.
Continue until you reach the picnic area. Turn left at the wooden direction sign and climb up to the road exit. On your left-hand side you will see the “Kings Leat” which has been kindly renovated courtesy of the town’s Rotary Club. Its water, as with all the leats in Ivybridge, once provided the lifeblood for business in the town by powering the many mills, in addition to providing drinking water for the residents. Immediately across the road or as you proceed down the road there are further footpath signposts to your right - these paths lead across Henlake Down with glorious views across Ivybridge and Ermington and on a clear day right out to sea. A footpath leads from the gate at the bottom of the Down back into Ivybridge. There are many other walks in Longtimber and beyond, all requiring a fair amount of time. Should you decide not to venture further and return to Ivybridge, stay on the road, which is lined with ancient cart stopping stones, and descend gently back to the town.
Car parking: hardy walkers can walk from the town centre car parks to Harford. For a relaxed walk drive to the Harford Moor Gate. Drive slowly through Harford village without taking the turning for Cornwood. Harford Gate has limited car parking spaces.
For Harford Gate Prehistoric Village
(Approximately 3/4 hour’s walking, medium difficulty)
Turn right and head towards the rise and look down towards the water crossing. You will note almost immediately the remains of a Neolithic village settlement. This is one of the most complete settlements on the Moor. The “threshold” and part of the “wind doors” can still be traced. Stone rows reveal the paths used by the residents into and around the settlement.
As you progress you will be able to pick out the outlook posts. The settlement bears
gently to the right following the curvature of the small discreetly hidden reservoir. Here can be found the chieftain’s residence along with many others. Follow the curve of the reservoir and over some slightly boggy ground and you are now facing once again the direction for Harford Gate. However turn right and shortly you will see the River Erme. Walk towards the Erme and soon you will see a rise in the ground. Turn back towards Harford Gate and you will find a “kist vane” - a method of burial once used. These are sometimes merely called “kists”. A kist vane is open and shaped similarly to a small coffin. The size of the grave is about half the size of one we would dig today. This is because the warrior would have been folded with his knees underneath his chin when buried. Due to its position it is believed this grave was for the Chief or King of the settlement. Turn back to Harford Gate.
Another short walk is to “Black Pool”
(approximately 3/4 hour walking, easy/medium difficulty) which is an extremely attractive area.
To undertake this walk, having crossed the stream just after leaving Harford Gate turn right rather than left, climb slightly until you find the stream known as Addiscombe Brook. To your left there is now a cleft of rocks - the “Black Pool” is here. Sit and watch the dragonflies fight for territory over the pond. Return to Harford Gate and the car park or, if on foot, proceed down to Stowford Gate to return to the town.
For Harford Church - driving to or from Harford Gate, stop and visit the Church at Harford. Here you will find a lovely brass in memory of Thomas Williams, Speaker of the House of Commons (from 1562 to his death in1566) who once resided in Stowford. Despite the long hazardous journey to London the Speaker to the House would return frequently to his beloved Harford and his carriage would frequently be seen regularly rushing up and down Harford Road. Enter the bell tower and note the dates and names on the wall. Graffiti then! Historic now!
Heritage Trail and, for children, take a look at “The Young Explorer’s Guide to Historical Ivybridge”. If you are in need of further walking inspiration call into the Watermark Information Centre in Erme Court or look out for details of the Ivybridge Walking and Outdoor Festival events. Happy wandering!
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