Mike's Gastronomic Walk
Distance: 6.3miles Time: 3hours (but more depending on the number of stops!) Footpaths: Devon County Council and Christow parish
There cannot be many walks where you can start at a pub, visit three more and finish at one. All in the space of two and a half hours walking or a whole day depending how much time you spend in the pubs. This walk takes you across to the east side of the Teign Valley where you can get glimpses of what Christow and Bridford look like from another perspective O.S. map 110 is essential.
All our walks start and Finish at the Artichoke Inn in Christow. From the pub head south up Butts Lane. At the top keep straight on and follow the lane down to the cross roads on the B 3193. Cross over the lovely stone bridge, spanning the Teign, and ahead you will see The Manor Inn. If it is after 11.30 you can stop at the pub for a coffee, or something stronger then continue up the valley passing Ashton Manor on your right. Just before you reach The Great Barn, notice the Elizabethan style gate and arch into the walled garden on your left. The Great Barn has been superbly renovated with the help of a DeFRA grant and is now a venue for a variety of functions including weddings. Every year the owners organise a pre-Christmas charity concert, to show off the décor, superb acoustics, and raise money for local causes.
Look for the green footpath sign at SX85488466 , with the barn entrance on your left, and pass through a gate into an old lane. After a second gate follow the yellows signs along the hedge to a stile which leads into attractive woodland with bluebells in the spring. Listen out for the harsh trill of the Cirl Bunting.
Pass through a metal gate and look for a foot bridge on your left, at SX85278532, over the stream. Continue along the marked path across the field, rising from the stream, to a gate by a modern barn (SX 85358551) which takes you on to the road to Doddiscombsleigh near Mistleigh Farm .
Turn right along this “secret valley” and proceed with the stream on your right. You might speculate that these hillsides, which used to echo with the sounds of motor cycle scramblers, could be covered in vines if the planet gets any warmer.
As you enter the village of Doddiscombesleigh you will spot The Nobody Inn ahead on your right. You have earned a rest as you have walked 3.5 miles. The pub was an ale house originally known as the New Inn. It was altered by a local builder in 1953 and further extended in 1964. Some link the change of name to an empty coffin, who knows?? If the pub is open don’t waste the opportunity. If it is closed then continue for about 100yds, enter St Michael’s church yard, locate the bench at the base of the south wall and remove your coffee and sandwiches from your rucksack. The bench is in a sunny corner sheltered from the prevailing wind. Inside you can see some of the oldest stained glass in the area and be thankful that it survived the excesses of Cromwell.
On your way out look for apple trees with branches covered with green beards of lichen and Goldfinches and Greenfinches flying around. Turn right and opposite Shippon Barton left into a field gate with a finger post (SX86778664). This is a dampish field, usually with sheep grazing,so Rover should be on a lead. Keep the field boundary on your left until you get to a muddy stile (SX85598680). From here you can see Bridford in the distance. But don’t worry it is not as far away as it looks.
Cross the field and marvel at the huge oak tree on your right (this was the sort of tree that made our wooden ships invincible).Try to avoid the boggy patches but look out for Cuckoo Flowers in April and buttercups in May. Continue almost straight ahead to yet another stile and emerge on to a track (SX85398694). Turn right, ford the stream and pass through the gate to Spynish Lake. You have now walked about 4 miles.
The track follows the boundary of Spynish Lake (not Spanish). Look out for the flag just inside the drive; normally the Devon flag, but we have seen the cross of St George. Continue up the track to the County Road and turn left. Continue down hill on the road. At the bottom on the right notice a large house which has been beautifully restored. The classic oak joinery, used in the windows and conservatory, confirms that there are still skilled people about! At the next junction bear right, pass Batts Brook Cottage on your left and take the footpath over a stile (SX84758707) at the end of the drive. Nearby are the remains of an old pack horse bridge, over Batts Brook, which horses laden with Manganese Dioxide (a chemical widely used in the steel industry) used to cross before climbing the hill towards Exeter.
Follow the boundary hedge but beware of Alpacas in the garden. Best to hide your chocolate bars as they have long necks! Cross the bridge over a stream and the stile into a field. Turn left following the field boundary and the arrows to a stile in the far corner. In the next field keep the hedge on your left and notice the views of Christow before tackling two more stiles and descending via a double stile to the lane (SX84018669) leading to the Sheldon Centre ( a religious retreat which stages open air pop concerts in July).
Turn right passing the “naval grave yard” on your left and proceed to Christow railway yard. Here you can admire Colin Burgess’s Great Western memorabilia before crossing the tracks and taking Christow Bridge footpath 35 over the river Teign. Continue to the valley road, turn left, and walk to the Teign House Inn.
At this point, a mile from Christow, you can enjoy good food and wine or power walk up Foxhole Hill and return to the Artichoke to slake your thirst. Either way you thoroughly deserve it.
Take a look at some of the delights awaiting you along this wonderful walk...