POSTBRIDGE TO STATS HOUSE AND RETURN VIA SANDY HOLE PASS
START POINT GRID REF: 648789

The impetus for this walk came from Collins Ramblers Guide to Dartmoor written by Richard Sale. It is and excellent book with a range of accurately described Dartmoor Walks in it. I have walked a few of them to date and find it an excellent book. The ISBN reference for the book is ISBN 0 00 760491 2 in case you wish to get hold of a copy.

It was reccied on 17 August 2001 and it introduced me to a couple of areas of Northern Dartmoor I hadn't visited before. The weather on the 17th was excellent for walking with dry weather, not too hot and excellent visibility.

The route that I took was a slight extension of the route described in the book, crossing the East Dart rather further up than suggested. The outline of the route I took is given above together. This outline should of course be related to a 1:25000 Ordnance Survey map of Dartmoor such as the outdoor leisure no 28 OS map of Dartmoor.

We left the Postbridge main car park at just before 11 AM and walked to the main road, turned left and headed along the main road, taking care with the traffic naturally. We crossed the main bridge and just beyond on our left we went through a couple of gates and made our way along the side of a boggy area along a well defined path. At the end we turned left and headed down towards the East Dart River.

Turning right by the river we followed a track along through a small wooded area to emerge through at the far end by the river and onto open moorland.

We followed the recommended route alongside the East Dart River heading upstream and climbing a slight incline the whole time. We passed way below Harland Tor and after a half a mile or so we were forced to climb up to higher ground to avoid a boggy area.

It was only a minor detour of a hundred yards up the hill and we were soon heading north again above the East Dart.

The going here was not particularly pleasant as the narrow track was though heavy gorse and wearing shorts was not a good idea.

Eventually we made it out onto more grassy moorland and after a half a mile we came down to the East Dart at the point the Ladehill Brook joined the East Dart.

(Learning from our own errors it would have been better to have headed up to Harland Tor as soon as we came out onto the moor and then followed a good track along way above the the East Dart and the troublesome bracken.)

At this point we turned right and followed the banks of the brook for about 50 to 100 yards where we came to an Old Beehive Hut.

Although as can be seen the roof has long gone the walls are in surprisingly good condition. We stopped here for a photo opportunity.

We turned right and headed up a slope for a few yards to a good track heading north.

The track continues up northerly and took us to the east of a very boggy looking valley, called the Ladehill Brook Valley, although not marked on the map as such.

Towards the top of the valley, continue north but head slightly left to avoid a bog ahead. Beyond some rocky mounds you continue to head north and should soon come upon a well defined wide track still going uphill.

Continue along this track and less than a half a mile onward you will come straight to the Grey Wethers Stone Circles.

There are two of them and have been restored just over 100 years ago. There are some interesting fables associated with them. The book mentioned at the start is a good source of information on these fables.

On the western side of the first stone circle a track can be seen heading west.

 

Follow this track and a few hundred yards at the top of a hill you will find Sittaford Tor. At 538 metres the views all round from this Tor are excellent and it is worth spending some time orientating yourself and seeing which of the many Tors and hills you can make out.

It is a good exercise in relating the map to the the terrain.

We had our lunchbreak up on this Tor, enjoying the views at the same time. The Tor is bordered on two sides by dry stone walls and at the point the two meet there are stiles to aid the descent from the Tor.

The next aiming point is Winney's Down and Statts House, just under a mile away on a bearing of 243 degrees. On a clear day the track down from the Tor on this bearing and up to Winney's Down is clearly visible. Follow this track but be warned it is slightly boggy in places and where is dips down into a valley and over a brook it is very boggy indeed. We had to make a detour left a hundred yards or so to find a crossing point over the bog and brook.

We headed back to the same bearing as before and followed the track up the hill to the top of Whinney's Down where we arrived at the remains of Statt's House.

This small hut has very thick walls and was once a peat cutters cottage or perhaps the home of a tin miner.

The interior is quite small but well the walls are clearly discernable, as is the entrance.

Just beyond this house is a Peat Pass shown as a double line on the map heading south west.

The start of the pass is less than one hundred yards to the north west.

This peat pass was one of several hewn out by a gentleman called Mr Philpotts over a hundred years ago.

At the start of the pass there is a very small stone plaque placed there by his relatives to commemorate his work in developing the pass.

 

Originally the peat was removed down to the underlying granite to produce an easy to follow track for moormen and hunters.

As we made our way south west down the track we could see the granite stones from time to time but the passage of time had made the pass less than distinct.

At the far end of the pass, a few hundred yards down hill, there is a second plaque, similar to the one found at the top of the pass.

To the south between the bottom of the pass and the East Dart River there is a broad marshy plain, called for obvious reasons, Broad Marsh. I decided to deviate from the suggested route in the book which recommended skirting the marsh on the eastern side to reach the East Dart River. That route is shown in green on the outline above.

I descended to the north of the marsh along a discernable narrow track and then followed the contours round heading south west keeping above the marshy plain.

In the distance we could see some rocky scree and we headed for that.

Just beyond that lies the East Dart.

 

I made my way upstream and found two or three places where I could get across the river on the large boulders.

The crossing was easy enough in August, I suspect though that in winter this may prove rather more difficult, or even impossible.

Having crossed the river we headed downstream with the river on our left hand side. It is better to keep rather higher than the river to avoid boggy areas. As the river swings east you will have to cross a brook. Again we had no problem in crossing this brook not far above where it flows into the East Dart.

We then followed a track east and a couple of hundred yards along we entered the west end of Sandy Hole Pass.

In this area the miners cut a channel for the river to make it narrower and deeper than before as it flows south east.

The photo shows the steepness of the sides of the pass and illustrates how the river is channelled through the pass.

 

At the far end of the pass the pass opens out onto a wide flat area. The river swings round to flow more east and it is better to follow the track keeping well above the river and the boggy areas.

Less than a half a mile further along south east you came upon the East Dart Waterfall, a popular spot for walkers.

 

 

The waterfall has large flat slabs at the top and the water cascades down twenty feet. In summer the waterfall is a mere trickle compared with the torrent of water flowing down after winter rains.

This is the point at which the Collins book recommends a crossing of the East Dart.

Continuing on down there are two options depending on time, either head south east up and over Broadun and so back to Postbridge or the more scenic route following the river down.

We chose the latter and followed the river but keeping well above it. We also cut off the long corner as the river first sweeps north east before swinging due south.

We headed south east across a wide grassy relatively flat area until we met a fence which we followed along and up to a stile over it.

There was the remnants of an old gate and just beyond that we descended steeply down through bracken until we came upon the remnants of an old leat and a narrow path beside it.

We followed this old leat due south and then it turned west and away from the river. Soon we came upon a stile and just beyond a track leading steeply down to cross a brook, called Archerton Brook.

The track went up a slope again and continued down alongside a dry stone enclosure wall.

The track exits the open moor through a gate and continues south east for about a half mile back to the main road.

En route there are several small clapper bridges to cross before you reach the car park again and the excellent Dartmoor National Park information centre and shop.

We arrived back at the car park at 3.45 PM almost 5 hours after setting out. We had covered about 10 miles on this walk and had visited several of the Dartmoor artifacts as well as the popular Sandy Hole Pass and waterfall.

If the route shown in green is followed the walk will be of the order of 9 miles since the loop further up the East Dart is not taken.