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Launceston to Bridestowe

A sign saying 'Penalty for not shutting gate £2'
This galvanised sign near Launceston is left over from the steam train era of the 1960s, when leaving the gate open and letting cattle onto the line could secure you a hefty fine (thanks to Rich Ness for writing in with this information)

This should have been a terrible day, not because of the walk itself, but because I woke up to miserable, driving rain, and apart from a short break in mid-afternoon, it never really went away. How bizarre, then, that I ended up rather enjoying myself.

The Two Castles Trail

Wool on a bush that looks a little like snow
Snow-like wool on Burley Down

For the entire 17 miles from Launceston to Bridestowe I followed a local track called the Two Castles Trail. Yesterday I bumped into Howard again as I hobbled into Launceston, and he proudly showed me the trail pack he'd picked up from the tourist office; I wasted no time in following suit, so today I ended up taking this winding, scenic route east rather than the normal procession of hedgerows, villages and A-roads. It was a good move.

Stowford Church
Stowford Church

Onward Agnostic Pacifist

A dovecote designed by the Reverend Sabine-Gould at Lewtrenchard Manor Hotel
A dovecote designed by the Reverend Sabine-Gould at Lewtrenchard Manor Hotel

I remember passing through Lewtrenchard and marvelling at the isolation and beauty of the Reverend Sabine Baring-Gould's home. The Reverend was not only the squire of this area, but he was also the parson, and he enlarged the local manor house, Lew House, into a much larger affair, designing some parts himself without the aid of an architect, and using nothing but local skills to achieve what is now the Lewtrenchard Manor Hotel. He also moved a holy well from the copse above the manor into the grounds of the manor itself; he compiled an authoritative and exhaustive list of Devon folk songs and stories; he wrote many books on Devon; and to cap it all, it was he who composed the hymn 'Onward Christian Soldiers.' It's an impressive list of achievements for one man, even one motivated by faith.

Lewtrenchard Church
Lewtrenchard Church

The Point of it All

Dartmoor seen from a distance
My first view of the brown slopes of Dartmoor, from Burley Down

Amazingly I arrived at Bridestowe with aching feet but no new blisters – yep, I counted 'em twice – and after booking into a campsite and popping up my tent, I wandered down towards Dartmoor and into the most wonderful pub. This is what makes it worth all the effort; those pints of Devon Gold and the wonderful gourmet meal I guzzled didn't even touch the sides.