A Bluffers guide to Bothies
Forget hotels and tents – #GetOutside Champion Phoebe and wild camping enthusiast wants to introduce you to bothies and why you should be staying in them.
Follow the Two Blondes as they explore the dramatic countryside around the Two Moors way and Bowerman's nose in Dartmoor - while being followed by a film crew for ITVs Britain's Favourite Walks
The Two Moors Way is a 102-mile walk that takes in the contrasting terrain of Devon’s two wonderful National Parks, Dartmoor and Exmoor. The walk starts (or ends) at Lynmouth, which is on the North Devon Coast and within the boundaries of Exmoor National Park and ends (or starts) at Ivybridge on the southern edge of Dartmoor National Park. Most of the Two Moors Way is well sign-posted and, when wandering around either Dartmoor or Exmoor, you will often find yourself walking along a section past the distinctive Two Moors Way two M’s sign.
This walk takes in a short section of the Two Moors Way across the top of the Hamel Down Ridge (which is packed with history ) above Dartmoor’s picturesque Widecombe in the Moor. We have made it into a circular route that takes in some of our favourite Dartmoor locations. We had great fun filming the route for ITV’s Britains 100 Favourite Walks Britain’s Favourite Walks: Top 100 and are very excited that so many other walkers appreciate our very favourite walking location. There are many interesting things to see along this fascinating route, we have even had a giant’s chair and giant’s ladder for a while, but we have chosen four permanent highlights to keep you walking.
If you walk about a kilometre along the lane from the Hound Tor car park and look up to your right, you might see a giant gazing out over the landscape. This is Bowerman’s Nose, one of Dartmoor’s most well loved rock formations. Legend has it that Bowerman was a hunter who was turned into stone after driving his hounds right through a coven of witches. We Blondes love visiting Bowerman’s Nose so much that Fi wrote a children’s story about a boy called Thomas and his adventures with Mr Ignatius Bowerman. ‘The Non-Story of Ignatius Bowerman’ is a tale for map lovers and adventurers and is guaranteed to get youngsters out exploring Dartmoor.
Poor old Kitty Jay had a sad life. She fell in love with a farmer’s son but was rejected by him when he found out that she was expecting a baby. So ashamed was Kitty that she took her own life and was buried at a crossroads so that her soul couldn’t find its way back to the village. Kitty Jay is, perhaps, better loved now than she was in her lifetime because her grave always has flowers on it… and nobody knows who puts them there.
Even if you aren’t interested in Bronze Age history, you can’t fail to get excited as you walk into the Grimspound enclosure, through the stone, circular boundary wall. Inside you will find the walls of several round huts and it is easy to sit inside one and imagine what life must have been like on that lonely but beautiful hillside. As you gaze west from Grimspound, across towards the high moor, you get a real sense of the wilder side of Dartmoor and might even spot a pub whose fire has been burning since 1845.
If you haven’t heard of Widecombe then you probably don’t know the famous song about Tom Pearce and his grey mare. Tom Pearce and all of his friends (including Old Uncle Tom Cobley and the grey mare) still appear at Widecombe Fair every September but even if you don’t arrive in September, Widecombe has everything a walker needs with pubs, cafes, a picturesque church and even a legend about the devil. All just in time to help you with that final uphill push towards Hound Tor.
You can find the route on OS Maps here.
Britain's Favourite Walks: Top 100 is being broadcast on 30 January at 7.30pm. You will also be able to find the complete list of walks with links to each route here.
The Two Blondes describe themselves as 'very ordinary women', but in reality as well as holding down day jobs, Lucy is a teacher at Trinity School in Teignmouth and Fi is a Freelance Copywriter, their passion for the outdoors and particularly Dartmoor takes them regularly into situations that are beyond the norm for most women of their age.
The Two Blondes met through their shared love of expedition work with young people. Their first meeting was when Lucy was training Fi’s son Olly for Dartmoor’s Ten Tors Challenge and Olly ‘volunteered’ his mum for camp bacon sandwich duties. Soon after Fi and Lucy found themselves working at the same school in Devon and training youngsters together for both the Ten Tors Challenge and the Duke of Edinburgh’s Award. When asked about this Fi said, ‘February camps on Dartmoor weren’t uncommon and we soon realised as the only two female leaders that sharing a tent was going to be much warmer (and more fun) than sleeping alone.’ Their friendship was cemented through this expedition work, they decided to share their adventures with the world and Two Blondes Walking was born.
Lucy and Fi have been writing their daily outdoor blog Two Blondes Walking since 2012 and their tales about fresh air adventures, camping mishaps and humorous outdoor incidents have led to a loyal following.