Once at the scattered village of Yelverton just five miles north of Plymouth we wasted no time signing in and after a brief talk we were off on another of my favourite walks. Somewhere hereabouts Yelverton once had a railway station with a line looping around on its way across Dartmoor to Princetown as can be seen on the map above. A more direct line linked Plymouth with Tavistock. At the northern end of Yelverton Station platform stood the entrance to a 19th century tunnel measuring 641 yards in length (586m) and apparently this hidden gem still exists. Due to its remote location, few people have seen it however there are photographs of the tunnel from all angles online as well as the red brick walls of the platform, so someone must know its whereabouts.
Plymouth Leat a.k.a. Drake’s Leat was on our left as we got into our stride and a bit further on this was joined by Devonport Leat over to our right; beyond that was Yelverton’s golf course where the mares were showing their foals where to find the sweetest grass, so much more appetising than the vegetation edging the trail!
There was so much to be seen as we ambled along from wildflowers to animals and stunning views. Further on we paused to watch as a lone black and white cow stood feeding a tiny calf; they had obviously become separated from their herd of Galloway cattle which we encountered later being ushered along the trail by a farmer on a quad bike. On we walked in these predominately green surroundings often sharing the trail with cyclists until we crossed the empty leat to head down through the hamlet of Clearbrook and then on towards Hoo Meavy Bridge.
Today’s 14 men and 11 women soon spread themselves out beside the pretty stone bridge while the River Meavy trickled beneath its single arch before flowing off into the distance. Even the temperature began to rise and a blackbird serenaded us from the nearby trees as we enjoyed a snack and a drink, we couldn’t have chosen a more perfect spot to take a break.
After about ten minutes we were off again on the second half of our walk along part of the West Devon Way where wild strawberry plants and Yellow Pimpernels were in flower beside the path along with the more commonly seen Wood Avens and Herb Robert plants. Along the way we watched a few sheep resting on the grass beyond the fence as they recovered from being recently shorn. On the fence a warning sign had been attached reminding dog-walkers of the damage that their pets can do to sheep if not kept on a lead.
Beside a hedge of Rhododendrons was a rusty kissing gate with a woodland path beyond; here relics from the railway’s past can be seen if you keep your eyes peeled, not just large structures such as bridges, but smaller items of railway-related objects such as those pictured here. At one time they would have formed a formidable barrier between the path and the track bed beyond the embankment to the left.
After passing through a second rusty gate we walked beneath one of the former railway bridges looking as good now as it did when it was new. Just a short walk from here a wooden gate led us up through Elford Town Farm named when the village was known as Elford Town which in the local dialect sounded like Elver-ton, hence the modern name of Yelverton. Just a short section of Drake’s Trail remained with a couple of gates to pass through before we reached the end, here two cyclists put on a burst of speed to get through themselves before we closed the gates behind us. As we re-joined our cars Nic’s technology informed us we had just completed 4.5 miles and taken over 9,000 steps.