Manaton Rocks, Heathercombe Fisheries and The Watching Place

After the false start on the previous walk, which necessitated a different walking plan, I decided to return to the area a couple of days later, park a bit further north and set out again to bag some Dartmoor 365 squares. In this case 4 squares and a nice summit of Manaton Rocks. This summit has been made even better by the recent tree felling by the National Trust, which has cleared the view to the south over Manaton church. However it wasn’t just the summits which had great views, the lanes as well sometimes produce a view of the hills, or in this case Bovey Castle. Its been a real treat of these Dartmoor 365 walks that you find views and paths that otherwise wouldn’t be on any agenda other than the local dog walkers. On this walk I had an option to walk a little further on lanes through the village of North Bovey, which has a pub however I turned off before this (after Hele Cross I turned right) along a forest track, not certain it was allowed but the sign was very dirty and I couldn’t make it out properly, plus as I was reading a runner came out along the path from the forest which made my mind up. The weather was a bit grey and dull and as a result the photos look a bit monochrome in places but its a lovely area to walk in, whilst staying clear of the busy areas to the south around Hound Tor and Bowerman’s Nose.

Start – Manaton parking

Route – Heatree Activity Centre – Heathercombe Fisheries – Two Moors Way – Lower Hookner – Barramoor – Beetor CrossHele Cross – Langstone – Manaton Rocks – Manaton

Distance – 9 miles    Start time – 10am   Time taken – 3hr 45mins Highest Point – Heathercombe Fisheries signpost 370m

Weather – Gloomy and grey

© Crown copyright 2022 Ordnance Survey FL 2022 SF
Manaton church at the start of the walk, I almost always choose to park in the church car park and throw a pound in the honesty box as suggested
The view from near to Torhill Farm across to Hayne Down (Bowerman’s Nose is stood up on the right hand slope) and Black Hill behind
Can’t for the life of me remember what this cross roads is called but that’s Easdon Tor behind the trees over there and Heatree Activity Centre is behind me up the road
Here it is
Up the hill from Heatree Activity Centre is this place, again at a cross roads, head right here down to Heathercombe Fisheries. The granite pillar behind was placed here by the old owner of this place, Claude Pike, he reforested this valley and put back the lake and ponds. His faith also came through in this pillars, marked each with 3 fishes and some words, this one says “Thine is the Power”. Another says “and the kingdom” and finally “and the glory”. These 3 pillars are one of the Dartmoor 365 squares
Bleak looking moorland in this light as I walk down to the fisheries to join the Two Moors Way and head north
Leaving the fisheries you cross some farm fields, the recent storm of Eunice has claimed a few trees along this section
Horny sheep! Easdon Tor again behind, this route encircles the whole tor
King Tor on the left and Coombe Down on the right as I head to Lower Hookner
Barramoor, D365 square number 2
The squares come thick and fast here with 3 within a mile of each other. Lovely views to King Tor along here
The Watching Place, possibly named as a medieval place to come and watch people dying on the gallows set at this point. Or possibly a place were food was left for a local family who had the bubonic plague, the locals would watch to see if the food was eaten, on the day it was left they knew the family had died and they torched the house to get rid of the plague.
Beetor Cross stands at this place as well
More lovely views just not a long distance as some more recent walks
Before long I’d reached Hele Cross, a lovely Maltese styled cross
Following the road towards North Bovey I passed a gate and permissive path through the grounds of Manor golf course. I sat on a rock here and had some coffee
The sun was trying to break through here but it didn’t last long
After a short climb after the last pic I get views to Bovey Castle, built around 1890
The forest track under Easdon Tor, as I said the sign was dirty and tricky to read and a runner had come out, so I went in. More trees down across the path in here but it was easy walking
Hunters Tor across the Bovey valley as I reach Langstone
This is the path at the start of the climb up to Manaton Rocks, back there is another fallen tree which has meant a temporary path heads off into the bog to get around it. Not ideal but no harm was done
The top of Manaton Rocks, not very high but the views are fab. The church is below and Haytor can be seen at the back to the right of Black Hill
Easdon Tor on the right and Hameldown back left
Looking in the direction of North Bovey and Moretonhampstead
A short and sharp descent brings me back to the path to the church and the car
But not before popping inside for a look. Good walk which leaves me with 21 Dartmoor 365 squares to do, probably over 11 walks. Should get them done this year

7 thoughts on “Manaton Rocks, Heathercombe Fisheries and The Watching Place

    • Grimpen Mire in the Hound of The Baskervilles is based on Dartmoor’s very own Fox Tor mire, so it could be that. Have to say reading about the Watching Place is a proper tale of woe even if only one of those stories was true

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  1. Wish they would give Bovey Castle back its real name – the Manor House Hotel. Used to belong before that as a home of W H Smith. In 1940 Von Ribbentrop tried to book a suite to live in after the Nazi victory. Presumably he lost his deposit.

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  2. I’ve been reading about the Dartmoor 365 Squares in your blog for a while so I thought I’d better find out what they were – now I know after a quick search. Have you been to the only square without a notable point of interest!

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    • Thing is with the D365 book is when you criss cross it with squares and mark on the map all the sites in the book there are a few that are missing an item, lots in the centre of the north moor such as Amicombe Hill, the site for those squares is just on the edge of it or just inside a neighbouring one. The author allows for a 100 yard grace distance here and there. Which is fair enough if you ask me, I just love that the book tries to pick out things which are perhaps not on your main list if you think of Dartmoor and forces you to head away from the crowds

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      • Absolutely! Any guide or list of anything that compels you to explore new places, or different routes to places you already know is fine with me.

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