Follow the Teign through the Castle Drogo estate - known as the 'youngest' castle in the country.
Distance 4 miles (6.4km)
Minimum time 2hrs
Level of difficulty Easy
Paths Riverside paths and tracks, one steep stony section, 2 stiles
Landscape Deeply wooded river gorge and meadows
Suggested map aqua3 OS Outdoor Leisure 28 Dartmoor
Start/finish SX 713894
Dog friendliness Dogs should be kept under control in woodlands
Parking Over Dogmarsh Bridge on A382 (beyond Mill End Hotel)
Public toilets At Anglers Rest
1 Walk back towards the bridge, then left through the kissing gate, following the footpath sign 'Two Moors Way' to enter the Castle Drogo Estate. Walk along the placid river through broad meadows, and through two kissing gates. Castle Drogo can be seen above left, and the steep-sided Teign Gorge ahead. Go over a stile and small footbridge into oak woodland. Follow the Fisherman's Path signs straight on along the left bank. An iron bridge over the river right marks the return route. The Two Moors Way goes left here. Walk straight on past a broad pool and weir, part of the castle's hydro-electric scheme.
2 The narrow, mossy path, at times rocky, proceeds along the gorge. It's incredibly pretty at all times of year, and particularly glorious in autumn. The path undulates gently. Down in the river there are rocky islands, fast-flowing, tumbling sections, and deep clear pools where the river takes on a lazy feel - and lots of good places for picnics and toe-dipping, or where you can sit and contemplate the scene. Soon the old pumping station comes into view on the opposite bank. A little later the path splits. If the water is low go straight ahead over a rocky section that floods easily in winter. If that is impassable, or if you feel like gaining a little height, climb the big, steep stone steps left to pass up and over a rocky outcrop.
3 A small flight of wooden steps leads you up to the preferred path, so avoiding riverbank erosion. Pass through a small hunting gate to gain a weir, with benches - a great place to picnic. Just beyond that the valley widens to form a broad grassy area opposite. Ahead you can see the steep slopes of Prestonbury Castle Iron Age hillfort above Fingle Bridge. It looks across the gorge to its twin, Cranbrook Castle, on the hilltop opposite.
4 Fingle Bridge and the Anglers Rest are reached after 2 miles (3.2km). Cross the old packhorse bridge and turn right (signs to Hannicombe Wood) to return on the track which runs parallel to the river. This is fairly level and passes through mixed deciduous then coniferous woodland; very soon you're on your own again.
5 When a small path leads right from the track take a moment to go and have a look at the pumping station and leat leading from the weir below the castle. Rejoin the main track, pass through a five-bar gate and walk past a superb 8ft (2.5m) granite wall, then right over stone steps to pass down and over the iron bridge to the other bank, to rejoin the route out. Turn left, over the stile into the meadows, and back to your car.
Castle Drogo, built in local granite between 1910 and 1930, occupies a spectacular position high above the Teign Gorge near Drewsteignton in north east Dartmoor. Given to the National Trust by the Drewe family in 1974, it was designed by Sir Edwin Lutyens and has the honour of being the 'youngest' castle in the country. Self-made millionaire Julius Drewe established his family seat here because of a romantic notion that his ancestors had connections with the village, but he did not live to see his dream fully completed. In 2000 the Trust introduced a scheme locally to create innovative outdoor sculptures based on Lutyens' design for a gateway - Julius Drewe had lost heart in the idea after his eldest son Adrian died in World War I.
This walk takes you through the edge of the Drogo estate along the sparkling upper River Teign and, apart from one rocky section (avoidable so long as the river is low), is fairly easy.
Look up above Fingle Bridge and you will see the precipitously steep slopes leading up to the site of Prestonbury Castle Iron Age hillfort, facing its counterpart Cranbrook Castle on the other side of the valley These two impressive sites, built by Celtic peoples to guard the Teign Gorge, provide evidence of relatively sophisticated habitation in the area as long ago as 750 bc - over 2,000 years before Julius Drewe's dream came to fruition.
The Anglers Rest, a pub since 1897 at the Fingle Bridge beauty spot, is popular with tourists - and game fishermen - and has tables on the riverbank. It's a free house and the bar is full of angling memorabilia and records. There's also a gift shop selling ice creams. The Sandy Park Inn, just north of Dogmarsh Bridge, is a characterful pub with a reputation for good food.