As well as the Two Moors Way, Ivybridge is ideally located for a variety of walks, providing the opportunity to enjoy moorland, countryside, woodland, riverside and coastal scenery.
The Erme Valley trail leads south to Ermington (3 miles away) and then links with the Erme Plym Trail continuing to the coast at Wembury and finishing in the centre of Plymouth (10 miles with a spur to Wembury).
The beautiful South West Coast Path can easily be accessed within approximately 20 minutes by car from Ivybridge. This long distance walking route stretches for 630 miles from Minehead in Somerset to Poole Harbour in Dorset, passing through the stunning coastal scenery of the South Hams of Devon. Whether you are looking for a short stroll or a few days of hiking in breath-taking scenery Ivybridge can provide a perfect base.
Shorter strolls, from 2-6 miles (1.5-3.5 hours approx.) taking in the town, Longtimber Woods, Henlake Down and Western Beacon are detailed in the circular ‘Self guided walks around Ivybridge’, available to purchase from the Information Desk (£2.50 for all 4 trails).
The Information Desk in The Watermark stocks a range of local walking and cycling maps and books to inspire.
The Ivy Bridge to Longtimber Woods
(Approximately 1 hour’s walking, medium difficulty)
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”. 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.
Harford Gate Prehistoric Village, Black Pool & Harford Church
Car parking: hardy walkers can walk from the town centre car parks to Harford.
For Harford Gate Prehistoric Village
(Approximately 2.5 hour’s walking, medium difficulty)
Walk up from the Town to Harford. Once you reach the village head up the hill to Harford Moor Gate then 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 2 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.
Harford Church. Here you will find a lovely brass in memory of Thomas Williams, Speaker of the House of Commons (from 1562 to his death in 1566) 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!
Don’t forget to also try the Heritage Trail. If you are in need of further walking inspiration call into the Watermark Information Desk in Erme Court. Happy wandering!