Tuesday, July 5, 2011

10 Pubs Walk

Well, i sit here writing this, nursing aching feet after taking part in the 10 Pubs Walk between Chagford and Okehampton yesterday. A sometimes gruelling hike up and down hills, across fields and consuming ale (the easiest part).
The walk is an annual event around the villages between Chagford and Okehampton, Devon taking in some of the finest hostelries on the way all in aid of the Devon Air Ambulance Trust. Although it is called the 10 pubs walk on this years list there was 12 pubs spread over approximately 16 miles.

We started at the Sandy Park Inn just outside Chagford where a "free" bar (donations to the air ambulance) was on offer. When i arrived (just before 11.00 am) there was already a large crowd gathered and a party atmosphere in the air, apparently several groups had already set off, i made my way inside, which was also crowded, eventually getting to the bar just as the landlord rang time on the free bar, so i had to pay, but i don't mind paying for a good pint of Dartmoor Legend. I then proceeded outside to take in the atmosphere and the glorious sunshine.

After a while i realised that the crowd was getting considerably thinner so i decided that as i wasn't sure exactly where i was going, i too should start walking and set off down the road in a buoyant mood. A little further down the road the course was directed (with the help of some strategically placed yellow ribbons) over a stile and into a farmers field, it was now that i realised that we weren't going to be sticking to roads but a mix of roads, footpaths and bridleways.

Sometimes walking through lovely cool woods,
but at other times across open fields in what was now rapidly becoming a hot day (apologies for the camerashake it's hard to take a photo whilst walking and trying to watch where you step)

And so, it was on to the village of Chagford where the next two pubs on the list were, first came the Globe Inn, where due to the large number of people taking part it took nearly half an hour to get served this unfortunately became a standard for the day until the last few pubs. Here i enjoyed a pint of Exmoor Breweries 'Fraid Knot (10p per pint of which was being donated to the Dartmoor Rescue Group).
Then off down the road (approximately 200yrds) to the Ring Of Bells where it was so busy that the staff were serving JD and cokes, and Gin and Tonics in pint jugs, because they were running out of glasses. It was here that i was reliably informed that the next pub was a 3 mile walk away up and down 2 hills, apparently when you got to the top of the first you could see the people ahead reaching the top of the second, i laughed (fool me). So with that in mind at about 1.00 pm i set off for Throwleigh and the next stop on the list.
 By now a few clouds had started to appear in the sky but it was still quite hot, after a short downhill stint i hit the first hill, which seemed to go on forever with several "false crests" climbing this first hill nearly done me and i was close to giving up, but the thought of letting a whorthwhile charity down kept me going, that and the beautiful views.

Eventially i arrived at Throwleigh and the Northmore Arms, here again the service was a bit slow due to the number of people taking, about half an hour just to get from the front door to the bar, a walk of about 20 paces, and a further 10 to get served but nobody seemed to mind.
After a short rest it was off again through the church yard, across a couple of fields, over 3 or 4 stiles a couple of which were more like fences. From there we passed over a cattle grid and up onto the edge of Dartmoor for about a mile then over another grid and a short walk down the road where we arrived at Dunnee's Bar

Well when i say bar one of the residents had loaned the use of a small field opposite his house where a van was parked with a gazebo behind it a few hay bails scattered to sit on and a BBQ in full flow, the beer was served from barrels in the back of the van at £2 a pint with i believe all proceeds going to the charity. By the time i got there they had run out of food but i believe more was being fetched.

By now it was about 4.15, i had been walking for about 5 hours and had yet to arrive at the half way point, so i finished my pint and set off once more, relieved that this part of the journey was along roads and all downhill.
After about 30 mins i arrived in the village of South Zeal, which is where my brother lives so i popped in to the village green where their fayre and beer festival was in full swing to say hi, i didn't have a beer here but i did grab a burger and a brief rest. Then walked up the hill to the Kings Arms, a pub i know fairly well as its where i usually end up when visiting my brother, its also where i learnt of this charity walk.
From there it was a half mile walk along to South Tawton to the Seven Stars, some people had decided that because they had been to the odd pub here or there that weren't on the list, they would by pass this one, some just couldn't be bothered to walk the half mile to then walk another half mile back to end up in Sticklepath which was about quarter of a mile from the Kings Arms. However most of us did.
As i arrived at Sticklepath i met a flow of people who were walking down from South Zeal, (more missing out the Seven Stars) i was also meeting people who through the day had passed me but i in turn at some point had passed them. We were now approaching the Taw River Inn, pub number 8 on the list 3/4 of the way only 4 more left.
After enjoying a pint and a chat with some fellow walkers outside the Taw River enjoying a slightly overcast but warm early evening, i crossed the road to pub 9 the Devonshire Inn, where i met some walkers who were finishing there and not going on to Okehampton,( i didn't blame them for i knew what lay ahead en route to the next stop). Unfortunately i didn't take a photo of the Devonshire.
Until the walk between Chagford and Throwleigh this was the part i was dreading, Sticklepath to Bellstone, only about 2 miles but all uphill and a steep one at that. I was expecting to go up the road way but the organisers set out a course that followed the footpath up through the valley, so i dully followed.
I arrived at The Tors in Bellstone at about 8.00 pm where i ordered a beer and a bowl of chips and cheese. Once the chips were finished and i had finished talking to fellow walkers i headed outside to finish my beer and enjoy a semi celebratory cigar (semi because i hadn't finished yet but knew the hardest parts were all behind me, with only 2 pubs left the rest of the walk was all downhill). After the beer and cigar were finished myself and a few other walkers set off into the sunset......................
The final 2 pubs on the walk were both in the village of Okehampton the first being the Exeter Arms, sadly i was too busy talking and forgot to take a photo, after a short stop there it was on to the final pub of the day the Plymouth Inn, reaching there at about 10.30 pm.
So to sum up my day was spent covering approximately 16 miles, 12 bars, consuming 12 pints of ale in about 12 hours and raising just over £100 for the Devon Air Ambulance Trust (that was just my bit) in total the walk raised several thousand pounds of much needed money to keep the air ambulance flying, so a big thank you to everyone who sponsored me.


  1. As I said before: WELL DONE Mark! You did great! But I still don't get why you call Sticklepath to Belstone a hard bit... this is a really lovely and easy walk with no hills whatsoever... Maybe you have been taking different rooute so far.

  2. Anonymous said...Nice to see a new post bro,its been how long since the last?
    Well done for completeing the walk to the first pub, lucky you had all those pictures from last year and the taxi fare back to our house.We wont tell anybody though it'll be just between us..Just kidding.
    Honestly a few more walks like that will see you right. Same again?


  3. LOL Ania,you must be walking a different route to the ones i've walked, maybe you could show me this easy route of yours.
    And bro i wish i did have pics from last year but if you remember i got the wrong weekend, lol. As for same again probably but next time i don't expect you to chicken out lol.