Zeal Monachorum Online

walks for the idle: walk 2.

from mary tavy to peter tavy

Our second Walk For Wimps is a very pretty stroll from St. Mary's church in Mary Tavy to St. Peter's church in Peter Tavy. Both villages are in West Devon and geographically on Dartmoor. We had planned to stop for a leisurely lunch at the Peter Tavy Inn before walking back. The sign from Mary Tavy reads: Peter Tavy ¾mile; the sign from Peter Tavy reads: Mary Tavy ½mile. Odd or what?. Perhaps the man measuring the distance had consumed too much cider at the inn before his return.

The Village of Mary Tavy

Coming on the main road from Okehampton, you'll see part of Mary Tavy straddling the road. There are much nicer parts of it. Turn left at the Mary Tavy Inn and you'll arrive at a quiet and lovely rural backwater. We parked opposite the church, where there was plenty of room.

Church of St. Mary

The granite church dates from the C15th and C16th, with Victorian restoration. It lies in the original part of the village. In the past it would have been busy with traffic on foot or by packhorse, being then the main route to Peter Tavy. Also, as in much of the area, it had an important mining industry. In the churchyard is the grave of William Crossing and his wife Emma.

William Crossing

William was a prolific walker, Emma often accompanying him on his walks. Among other works he wrote Crossing's Guide to Dartmoor, which to this day is the bible for serious walkers on Dartmoor. Or even for trivial wanderers, come to that.

The Bridle Path

Walk up from the church and fairly shortly you'll see a sign marked: Bridle Path to Peter Tavy. In the late Autumn it was a warm litter of golds, reds and russetts. Go down the path and walk on. Soon you'll see the river and a convenient bench for the energy challenged. You'll pass through various wooden gates on the way to Peter Tavy.

River Tavy

From the bench there are pretty views of the river. Also from the footbridge you'll see on your left, which you'll cross next. Shortly the walk opens out and fields and trees shield the river from view.

Longtimber Tor

Walking on, to your right you'll see a big clump of trees and, if you look hard, a suggestion of a ruined stone edifice. In fact, this is Longtimber Tor. There's a metal gate to the right of it and you can go down and walk around it to see the rocks of the tor more clearly.

Peter Tavy

Continuing on the main path, a field of sheep might come to the gate to greet you just before the path's surface hardens and you are a few yards from the village and its inn and church. A church was here in the C12th, though probably one existed earlier than that. Subsequent additions were made in the C14th. In the C19th, structural damage necessitated repairs and rebuilding.

The Village Cross

The village cross stands just outside the churchyard. Pinned to the noticeboard is an explanation of what is known about it.

Lunch at the Peter Tavy Inn

I'm sure you know how hungry wimpish walkers feel as their lunch destination comes in sight. The evening before I'd gone to the Inn's website to check on menus and opening hours. There was no mention of the notice: "Kitchen closed for refit", which met us at the entrance. Since we will be returning to further explore the area, next time we'll take our custom to the Elephants Nest Inn at Horndon.

St. Mary's church at Mary Tavy
William Crossing's headstone in St. Mary Tavy churchyard
River Tavy
Bridge over the River Tavy
Along the River Tavy, leading to Longtimber Tor
Longtimber Tor
sheep at Peter Tavy
St. Peter's church at Peter Tavy, view from the front
The village cross at Peter Tavy
Explanation of the village cross at Peter Tavy
St. Peter's church at Peter Tavy, view from the side
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