The Two Museums Walk, Sticklepath to Okehampton
This week’s Two Museums Walk is a 5 mile easy to moderate walk and starts from the National Trust’s Finch Foundry property in Sticklepath. Following wooded riverside paths, the route meanders to Belstone, and onto Okehampton, ending at the fascinating Museum of Dartmoor Life.
The route is mainly on riverside and wooded tracks, with some sections along Devon’s country lanes. There are some short climbs and descents, and the path rises and falls with the river – if we have had prolonged rain the route can be wet and muddy.
- Starting from the car park at the back of the Foundry, follow the fingerpost signed ‘Two Museums Walk via Footbridge’ go through a gate and onto a grassed area known locally as Billy Green.
- Stroll alongside the river to the footbridge, over the footbridge and turn right signed ‘Two Museums Walk via Belstone’. When the path forks – take the right fork.
- Walk along the footpath with the river Taw on your right. You will pass Cleave Mill on the opposite bank. Go through a gate and continue on either the upper or riverside path (both converge shortly after).
- After around a quarter of a mile cross the footbridge. About 30m after the footbridge, fork right for around 30m to reach a wider path. Turn left here.
- Soon after turn left down a minor fork in the path, going down a slope to cross another footbridge, turn right immediately after and follow the path next to the river.
- Cross some rocks and pass between some trees, also crossing a stream. After crossing a second stream, follow the path straight ahead for a short distance, before taking another path which climbs away from the river to the left.
- After a short climb, turn right and follow the track, with the river now below you. This is Belstone Cleave. The Cleave features in Henry Williamson’s novel ‘Tarka the Otter’ (‘The river hurried round the base of the Cleave, on whose slopes stunted trees grew, amid rocks, and scree that in falling had smashed the trunks and torn out the roots of willows, thorns and hollies.’).
- Continue along this path for around half a mile until it descends to the river. Cross the river over the footbridge to your left and follow the path as it bears to the left and then to the right. Climb up the hill and you will come to the green at Belstone.
- You will be able to see the back of the Tors Pub. Walk alongside the pub leading to a junction with a phonebox on the opposite side of the road. Turn left here, and after 20m take the road that leads to the right. Continue walking for approximately half a mile until you reach a cattlegrid. Just after the cattlegrid is a stile on your left signposted ‘Public Footpath Fatherford.’ Cross this. Follow the ‘path’ signs across two more stiles until you reach a small clapper bridge.
- Further on there is a wooden gate. Go through this and turn left down the road under the A30, until you emerge under a small railway bridge.
- Turn left and left again, and follow a road until shortly after you come to a gate on your right signed to Ball Hill Woods. Go through this gate and continue straight ahead. This is private woodland so please keep to the path.
- You will reach a gate, go through and bear left to another gate. Continuing through this gate will lead you eventually to a leat at the end of a road. Continue along this road until you reach the old mill on your left, just before the railings and next to some steps. This is Town Mills. Town Mills was once a grist and woollen mill, during Okehampton’s heyday as an important wool centre.
- Follow the steps beside the mill and at the bottom turn left into Mill Road. On your left you will pass Okehampton College, Simmons Park and the Post Office.
- Soon after the Post Office turn left into Jacobs Pool. On your right hand side you will see the car park for the Museum of Dartmoor Life.
- Walk through the car park for the museum into the courtyard where you will find Tea Rooms, Okehampton Tourist Information Centre and the Museum of Dartmoor Life. There is a fascinating selection of artefacts, photographs and information about Dartmoor and the people who lived there.