A River Teign Walk
This ramble visits the Stover Country Park in south Devon and walks a section of the River Teign, near to the village of Teigngrace. The starting point is the visitor centre at Stover Country Park, midway between Newton Abbot and Bovey Tracey. There is car parking on site (small charge) or you can take the bus between Newton and Bovey. The start map reference is SX832750. The walk is about 5 miles and there is 82 feet of ascent.
1. From the visitor centre follow the path marked “To the Templer Way”. Go right at the first T-junction and down to Stover Lake, cross the little wooden bridge and head right round the far side of the lake. This is an excellent location for bird watching, with many water birds using the lake and its associated waterways.
The country park was once the grounds of Stover House, built by James Templer around 1765. Templer made his fortune in India, building the docks at Madras. Stover House is now a private school and not open to the public.
2. Follow the orange signs of the Templer Way around the lake. At the head of the lake cross the footbridge and then turn hard left along the path marked “Templer Way via Ventiford”, with a canalized stretch of water on your left. After a quarter mile, this stretch of water ends at a weir. Turn right on to a narrower path, still part of the Templer Way.
3. After a quarter mile, this exits on to a country lane. Mind the traffic! Turn right and follow for another quarter mile. Pass Ley Green Farm and ignore turning on the left called Summer Lane. A useful bench at this point! A hundred yards further down the road watch out for a path to the left immediately in front of a large property called Ventiford Forge. Take this, pass under the old railway line, and continue down a hundred yards to a large gate.
On the right here is Ventiford Basin, now a picnic area, but once an important part of the Stover Canal, built by James Templer between 1790 and 1792 to transport clay, and later granite, down to Teignmouth docks. The canal is now disused and very overgrown, though there have been plans to restore it.
4. Pass through the gate and walk down to the River Teign, which now comes into view. The River Teign rises at two sources high on Dartmoor and flows down to the sea at Teignmouth. Follow the river for half a mile, passing two footbridges on the way (do not cross). Soon after the second, an ancient fording site will be seen going down to the river – perhaps one of the ways the Romans crossed the Teign.
It is well to remember that the river scenery you have seen still exists only thanks to the many protestors, and the people of Teigngrace, who, in the 1990s fought the proposals by a multinational minerals company to divert the River Teign and dump millions of tons of clay waste on this spot. Brave protestors camped by the river for many months forcing a public inquiry, causing the plans to be abandoned. It was subsequently discovered that, had the project gone ahead, it would have led to the flooding of the nearby town of Newton Abbot!
5. 100 yards on from the ford take the footpath on the right leading away from the river towards the houses of Teigngrace village. The path crosses three fields before once again reaching the remnants of the Stover Canal. Turn right at the T junction and wind left, crossing the railway line and following a gravelled track up to a lane.
You have just passed Locksbridge, once one of the locks on the Stover Canal. Beyond is the quiet village of Teigngrace, with a church built by the Templer family in 1787.
6. Turn right along the lane. A hundred yards past the “Old Rectory” take the footpath off to the left. This climbs up through a field with several ancient trees. Pass through the gate on the far side and turn right up the track into the woodlands. Walk uphill and then downhill on this track for three quarters of a mile, veering to the right at any junctions. After crossing an old bridge, the track heads between fields before re-entering the woodlands of the country park through a gate. This track was once a carriage drive for the Templer family when they lived at Stover House.
7. Follow the track through the woods. When Stover Lake is reached, turn hard left. Walk back along this side of the lake. At its end, cross stretches of water by new wooden bridges, then turn right on the track beyond for 150 yards. Turn left at the next junction back to the visitor centre and the end of the walk.
Enjoy the walk!