Zeal Tramway, Redlake and the River Avon

Restrictions loosened, I decided to head further into Dartmoor. Still on its southern side but the walk is straight into Dartmoor proper, once at Redlake you leave behind the last few remains of people and head off for some solo time. The best part about this walk is the route to Redlake, using the Zeal Tramway path I didn’t see a soul, not something you would get if you walk the tarmac path from Shipley Bridge up to Avon Dam. The weather was glorious, expecting a forecasting of cooling weather I wore 3 layers, 10 minutes in and I was down to one and it stayed that way in some superb sunshine. Once at Redlake I made a beeline to Green Hill, the conditions underfoot were good as we have had little rain for a few weeks now. Green Hill is a remote spot and I headed a bit further to Fishlake Rocks to tick these off my list. Not the grandest of piles but being stuck in the middle of miles of tufty yellow grass, mires and tough walking they are a good addition to my 500. From these rocks I spotted what looked like a faint track/sheep path across Fishlake Mire, I took a gamble and it paid off as I easily made the River Avon, I probably should have headed uphill a bit to Huntingdon Warren but I fancied trying to follow the infant river south to see if I could. I was on the eastern side of the river and it sort of worked. I learnt that I needed to stay right on the banks of the river to make progress, away from it, even 2 or 3 metres, meant very thick tufty grass or mossy bogs that moved underfoot as small streams fed into the river. I made Broad Falls in reasonable time, but the distance was much further than I expected (around 2km). Once at Avon Dam the normal throng of people greeted me, lots more walking the path up to the dam and lots returning to the car park. All in all a fantastic walk and despite it being Easter Sunday, only the last short section had lots of folk. Great day.

Start – Shipley Bridge parking

Route – Zeal Tramway – Broad Rushes – Petre’s Pits – Western White Barrow – Crossways – Redlake – Green Hill – Fishlake Rocks – River Avon – Broad Falls – Huntingdon Clapper – Huntingdon Cross – Western Wella Brook Clapper – Avon Dam and Reservoir – Brentmoor House – Shipley Bridge

Distance – 10 miles    Start time – 10am    Time taken – 5hrs Highest Point – Western White Barrow 481 metres

Weather – Sunshine and surprisingly warm

© Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey FL 2021 SF
Green fields and the Avon valley, I’ve parked on my left and headed from the car park and Shipley Bridge, straight up the hill to firstly get away from the masses of people and secondly to take a route towards the Zeal Tramway
Shipley Tor across teh valley, the car park can be seen down on the right
The Bala Brook is in that valley heading up the centre of the photo with Old Hill to its left
On the Zeal Tramway looking back south towards South Hams
And the other way the tramway leads north, following the brook on the left leads up to Broad Rushes, the tramway curves left to hit the same spot
3/4 mile marker on the Zeal Tramway
Broad Rushes
Just a little further on and slightly west of the tramway is Petre’s Pits, both this and the tramway are Dartmoor 365 squares, so another 2 ticked off today (there are others on this walk but I’ve visited them previously, here to find them all). As I walked over to look into the pits I disturbed a buzzard eating, not best pleased they scarpered as I’d got to within 20 foot of it. I tried taking a photo but it was low and blended into the banks opposite
Miles and miles of tufty yellow grass, tough walking if there is no path
Western White Barrow looking across to Eastern White Barrow
The western one includes Petre’s Cross and a nice view to the pointy Redlake
Settling tanks on Quickbeam Hill for the clay works, in clear weather you can see Plymouth Sound from here
Zooming in on Redlake
Now on Redlake, the deep blue pools are from the clay works, people were paddling in them today (far end of this pool)
Looking the other way across more pools, Huntindon Warren on the left. I titchy bit of Avon reservoir can be seen in the distance. I had planned to stop here for a brew but flies on the summit meant I changed plans and headed to Green Hill
Green Hill, I restacked the cairn which is the end of the Staldon Stone row and had a brew looking at Redlake
And also this way with Three Barrows, the hazy hill in the centre. Langcombe Hill is on the right
A short walk north east from Green Hill brings Fishlake Rocks into view. I visited this pile and also found more rocks on the downward slope towards the mire
Here they are looking north to the other pile. There is only 50 or so metres between the two outcrops
This is a tinners hut in Fishlake Mire. The green part of the hill in the distance is where I took the last photo. As you can see it is very tussocky and thick yellow grass. The faint track you can see on the left side of the photo has led me here nicely. You can also see the path when stood on Green Hill. However from here the path became very faint, so I stayed on the higher lumps and away from the swampy bits
The infant River Avon, Huntingdon Warren in the distance
I’m above Broad Falls here, not a very big waterfall at all, more of a short tumbling of water around some big rocks
A tree, the Avon and Eastern White Barrow in the distance
Huntingdon Clapper and two lads who didn’t want to move away from it to allow a decent photo. I’d been following the River Avon for around 2km by this point.
Huntingdon Cross
This si a fairly new clapper installed over the Walla Brook, that’s still the Avon on the left
Avon reservoir is coming into view
Turning around to see the wriggling river course. Huntingdon Warren is up on the right there
You can see some of the people sat at the dam having picnics etc on the right. But this is a lovely spot for a photo and at the moment its either go for a walk or meet in a garden so I was expecting to see lots here.
The tarmac path which leads to the dam. Grippers Hill is ahead
The gorse was smelling lovely here, that’s Black Tor on the hill. The trees holds an old ruin
Brentmoor House is the ruin
The end of my walk and back at Shipley Bridge. The end photo is normally that of a nice waterfall however a huge tree has fallen across it now so unless it is moved I will need to come up with something else in future!! A lovely walk though, so much interest and some vast open spaces to see.

7 thoughts on “Zeal Tramway, Redlake and the River Avon

  1. Hi Stephen, great route. I adore this area of the South Moor as the tracks tend to be pretty good. Those rocks close to Fishlake Rocks were almost added to the database as a separate outcrop, but we felt they lacked appeal and they are not too far from the other collection anyway. It appears you may have accidentally linked the wrong Walla Brook clapper bridge in this post. ATB Max.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Cheers Max, I had a feeling you’d have looked at those rocks, for me they can be part of Fishlake as you say. Sorted out the clapper bridge, must have had a dizzy moment when linking that up!! Have to say that a better return would be over Huntingdon Warren, Grippers Hill, Shipley Tor and then cross the river by following the wall down. I reckon I could have done it on this walk but I wasn’t certain of the river height, certainly not in April anyway!

      Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice to see those pictures. I remember when Redlake was dazzling white. I spent my first night alone on Dartmoor without a tent at Broada Falls.

    Liked by 1 person

      • Always a favourite of mine. There used to be an old stone vermin trap a little way down on the left bank. These things were marked on the old OS maps, sadly not today. Worth collecting the old blue 25000 from the 60s.

        Liked by 1 person

  3. Beautiful day and fascinating scenery as always in amongst those endless Dartmoor grasses and tussocks. Do people swim in those pools in the Clay Works or are they too shallow. They look similar to a very peaty pond I’ve swum in up on the moors near Crickhowell


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