For quite some time, I have wanted to walk The Templars Way. Running from Haytor Quarry on Dartmoor, it follows the route of the Haytor Granite Tramway, then the Stover Canal to Teingmouth from whence granite from the quarry was exported to places far and wide.
The one small fly in the ointment, apart from my wanting to correct the spelling along The Way, adding the missing apostrophe, was finding time to do the trip.
With August bank holiday approaching, I had thought that my opportunity to walk the route in the summer holidays had passed. Bank Holidays are usually family time, but with extreme weather warnings being issued for heavy rain, the opportunities for family adventures were limited which gave me a chance for a walk in the rain.
Driving up to Haytor at first light, there was hardly a car in sight, but there was a lot of rain coming down. Nevertheless it was fun to walk off into the rain for Haytor Quarry, before taking a right turn towards the sea. The route was really easy to follow, the two OS 1:25000 maps in my bag probably being overkill when you consider I also had Viewranger GPS on my phone. But I am old school when it comes to navigation and I was in the Scouts, so I like to “Be Prepared”.
After a short stroll over open moorland, it as time to enter the woods, which proved to be a frequent feature until I got to Newton Abbot.
My tree recognition is dreadful, but I did recognise silver birch (!), oak, ash and sycamore in there, all very wet but providing some welcome cover.
Last summer, I started using an umbrella as a sunshade and carried one today, which proved fantastic being sheltered by the trees it was quite till, so using an umbrella my that I could walk with my rain jacket partially. Unzipped with the hood down The other thing that seemed to work well was having bought a new rain jacket one size larger than normal. This meant that it was nice and loose to aloe the air to move around and the sleeves were nice and long so I could pull then over my hands.
A bus stop provided welcome shelter for my lunch break sinking a flask of coffee, thence through the woods at Stover before striding on to Newton Abbot.
At this was my first walk of any distance a for a long time, by now my feet were aching; a lot. Thankfully despite having been sopping wet from the start of the walk, they were blister free. Time was also pressing, as I wanted to walk along the estuary shore on the leg from Newton Abbot to the sea, but with the time of high tide that meant I would need to start running if this was to prove possible.
Past a lake, then through the woods at Stover Park.
Some joker had been at large; I did look behind, but saw no one.
Along the canal side. Less water in there than in my shoes.
Down gravelled pathways and across railway lines
Up until Newton Abbot, the route had been very rural, but it now started to take on a different mood. The signs of humanity and, in particular, pollution, litter, graffiti and general lack of respect for the environment become more obvious. Still I followed the river towards the sea, but as the scenery became less natural, my mood changed.
By this time, I calculated I would need to walk at 6 km/hour make the coast walking along the shore line. The tide had beaten me.
With home being just a few short miles away, I decided to call it a day and turned right, into the town centre to catch a lift home.
If micro adventures are about talking yourself out or your comfort zone, this jaunt had achieved the desired effect.
It was a last minute trip with no forward planning, other than grabbing my stuff and making some sandwiches. It as on a day when the weather was truly dreadful, when common sense told me to stay inside. It was on a day when I tried out some new ideas to deal with the conditions. But it was also a day that I thoroughly enjoyed.
Moor to sea – not quite; but it does leave more to see next time!