Along the Tarka Trail southwards to North Tawton (10 miles from Chawleigh)
This route gives a flavour of the 180 mile loop, which is the Tarka Trail. Henry Williamson's 1920, Tarka the Otter, is the theme for the project. Start with the 9.05, Turners Chawleigh bus (Monday to Saturday) from Chulmleigh, alighting at the Portsmouth Arms and walk in the Witheridge direction.
Leave Chawleigh by a lane on the right signed "Shooting Lane" and follow this signed to Chenson to a bridle path signed right. Go down this bridle way which is initially hedged on both sides, but which after a gate is represented by a wide strip of grass on the edge of the field. Follow this down hill until it reaches the main road in 30 minutes. At Chenson there is a "camping barn" offering "simple accommodation for up to 8 people" (Details 01363 83236)
At Chenson (10.30) cross the A377, ahead over the level crossing to a signpost giving two alternatives to the Tarka Trail. Take the bridleway and note the distinctive waymark - an Otters Paw print used for the route, which climbs right onto a surface farm road (W/M) and through two metal gates to the road. Down the opposite road signed "Coldridge", at bend follow sign post into field. After a gate and a stile (W/M) pass to the right of a ruin and into wood. Follow track through wood to sign post and go ahead following waymark through two waymarked gates (11.30). This last gate leads into a field, go forward left to a stile by a river (W/M), do not follow track past ruined buildings. Over the stile and straight across field to a stile (W/M) and footbridge. Cross this field to a stile ahead and join road and turn left (11.45). Cross over road bridge and follow road to edge of wood. Footpath is signed right along the edge of wood. On leaving wood follow the edge of the river, through a gate across a footbridge and continue to follow river edge. A metal gate leads into a field. Go straight across and on right is a Tarka footpath sign. Follow this track hedged both sides, to a stile on the left (W/M), over a stile (W/M), forward by a hedge, over two stiles in quick succession (W/M). Head to the left of the single tree in the field aiming for the right hand edge of a line of firs. Here cross three stiles in quick succession and onto a road (care!). Turn right on this BUSY road for 200 yards, which bears left at "Taw Cottage". Follow this road and take a next left onto a quiet lane at Taw Green Cross and again next left at Taw Green. Continue forward at river level, passing "Clapper Cross" (1.10) to a Tarka footpath sign on the left opposite a cottage, take this footpath. (This road walking section 1.7 miles, is typical of the Tarka Trail overall; no signs on the road section.) Go through the garden to the gate at the bottom right, cross two stiles following river to the road. Bondleigh Bridge is an old hump backed bridge. Do not cross, but take the minor road by the telephone box (1.25). (DO NOT be tempted to follow the road to North Tawton, as the 2 miles by road is a long winding busy and narrow road.).
This minor road is ½ mile to Bondleigh Wood Cross. Here you could divert to see Bondleigh Historic Church ½ mile (Key at yellow cottage by gate.) Otherwise take the signed Tarka Trail unmetalled road, which eventually leads to a magnificent footbridge. Here we leave the Tarka Trail crossing the bridge, follow the marked track to North Tawton. This track comes to Yeo Farm and goes ahead to North Tawton arriving 2.35. This unmetalled road section, shows how many of our "roads" looked in the 1920's. The road called "Yeo Lane", meets the main road. Turn right here and in 200 yards is The Copper Key, serving food all day, or turn left for the town centre, (toilets, phone, fish and chip shop, bus stop and locked church).
To return get the 1.33 p.m., 3.33 p.m.or 4.28 p.m., Exeter bus from the clock tower. The 1.33 arriving Crediton 1.57, connecting with the 2.40 Turners bus to Chulmleigh. The 3.33 gives you a chance to see Credition's magnificent church (always open) and the 4.40 gets the 5.40 or 6.00 Turners Bus (Turners Bus stops at the Green.) to Chawleigh and Chulmleigh (Monday to Friday). Saturday 4.40 and 5.40 only. Please remember to check times of buses beforehand.