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Dartmoor: Grimspound to Broad Burrow and back (Circular) 6.5 miles O/S Explorer OL28

Easy going when it's not snowing, raining, blowing a gale etc.


A trail including the premier prehistoric settlement remains of Grimspound.


Driving west along the B3212 from Moretonhampstead, passing over a cattlegrid onto the moor, take the lane on the left marked to Widdicombe. About a mile and a half along (just before a drive on your right to Headland Warren Farm) you’ll see a footpath sign pointing left to Grimspound. Park here, and stride those few yards to this incredible relic of prehistoric Britain. About 2000 BCE some Ancient Britons settled here and hung around for a two thousand years before legging it back to Brittany. These aptly named Celtic remains are one of the best reminders of how they lived.



When you’ve finished exploring this wonder, head north to Hookney Tor and beyond it. After about half a mile you cross an east to west path. Go right here to West Combe. Expect to see some shaggy highland cattle with scary horns but a placid nature, which I thought was a nice nod to the moor’s Celtic prehistory.

This track brings you to a tumbledown farmstead with bags of charm and excitable geese. You get the feeling this place has been around for thousands of years too.



Take the footpath to the right, across a stream, over stone steps onto grazing land and onward until you emerge at a farm track, turning left for a few yards to Lower Hookner, and there, right at a footpath sign marked Mariners Way.


Mariners way was an ancient route for mariners trekking from Dartmouth to north coast ports such as Bideford. Although there are ancient markers, it can’t have been easy finding your way (and perishing in winter). As the trade was cloth to Europe and wine back, hopefully these sailors were adequately dressed and fortified


More styles and fields ahead helpfully marked with a red dot that leads over a lane to Kendon and into more fields and eventually Heathercombe Wood.


The dots now turn yellow and then to the more usual way markers with arrows as you go. Dull and sickly-looking pine when I was there, it improved as we got deeper in, passing the buildings of Heathercombe until you emerge through a gate back onto the moor. Turn right to head north west. It's a wide, clearly marked path, if only by the different colour of the trodden grass. keep left as it turns south to Broad Barrow, one and a half miles ahead.




Broad Barrow is a curious mound at the summit, and on it is a boundary stone looking for all the world like a tombstone. Magnificent views of the moor from here. This is also the place you change direction.












Looking back the way you came, you'll see a path heading north east. Take this all the way back to Grimspound. It's just under a mile away.








This time, approaching Grimspound from above, you get a much better idea of its layout and vulnerability. No wonder they legged (and rowed) it back to Brittany in the end.