Day 8

Tavistock to Okehampton – 19.2 miles (125.6 total)

Although there had been rain overnight it was dry when we started our day’s walk. John’s knee was causing him a problem – undoubtedly caused by a strenuous first day.

We followed The West Devon Way out of Tavistock, first crossing then re-crossing the River Tavy. After a good length of country lane walking our route took us through a number of fields separated either by high stiles or metal gates. John genuinely suffers from vertigo so the stiles didn’t please him. As for the gates, they were secured with bolts so stiff that a combination of Popeye and spinach would have struggled to open and close them. In racing parlance ‘the going was heavy’. The overnight rain had ensured that already muddy fields were now saturated.

The Church at Mary Tavy

John had always planned to shorten the day by taking the bus at one of a number of possibilities during the day. Because he was slowing down he opted out earlier than anticipated, at Mary Tavy. I left him at the bus stop and headed towards Black Down. Because of the sodden conditions underfoot, I decided to change my plan and continued on road, now following National Cycle Route 27 (NCR27) until after the village of Lydford. The rain was starting and stopping all day and I lost count of the number of times I took off my rain jacket only to have to put it back on quickly.

The second half of the day was a much more straightforward walk. I abandoned The West Devon Way, as planned, now joining The Granite Way, which would take me all the way to Okehampton following the course of the old railway. This was a bit of a tramp on tarmac cycle track. There was little gradient, obviously, and it was impossible to get lost. An unforeseen highlight was the Meldon viaduct which offered a spectacular view back to Meldon reservoir. I passed a number of family cyclists coming the other way… but still no walkers.

Meldon Viaduct

Eventually I reached the station for The Dartmoor (Heritage) Railway which signalled (pun?) my imminent arrival at my next destination, Okehampton. That’s the second of my three testing days completed with no serious problems.

Photo of the old signal box