Wandering the upper reaches of the Avon

Holne moor

Once again the forecast for the day was good and so I headed to Holne moor on the south east edge of Dartmoor.  Leaving the car it was clear that the weather was not as good as the last walk on Dartmoor (see here) just four days earlier.  As it was Good Friday I decided to make a fairly early start and head to an area of the moors where it was less like that there would be many people.  I headed broadly west and at times along the ancient track known as Sandy Way aiming for Aune Head.

Aune (Avon) head

I can understand people who see love of moorland areas as rather strange and looking at the above picture people may think they have a point. I love it though. This is the start of the river Avon and is known as Aune Head.  The darker line running across the picture indicates the wettest part of the bog which feeds the stream to start with.  In the past and in dry years I have attempted to cross the bog however to date I’ve never been able to do so although I have got frustratingly close at times.  Dartmoor bogs of this sort are not to be taken lightly; while getting very wet is the likely outcome of walking into such places animals die every year from getting stuck in such bogs.

Tinners hut on the River Avon

Wandering down this upper stretch of the Avon has always been a favourite walking area of mine and I very rarely see anyone in the section of the river – today was no exception. There are a number of old tinners remains all along the valley indeed the first part of the actual stream as it comes out of the bog has walled banks courtesy of the tinners who wanted to direct the river. A little way down on the right bank there is an appreciable working which gets little attention. The cutting (from surface mining) is quite noticeable as is the building shown above. This is a tinners hut which was probably used both for storage of tools as well as shelter at times.

Walking on down the stream I arrived at Fishlake.  There is a much larger tinners hut here as can be seen above.  In the image on the right you can see an alcove in the wall of the hut – this may well have been a fireplace.  Certainly this hut was residential rather than simply for storage.  The hut is actually just upstream of the confluence between Fishlake stream and the Avon and on the right hand bank.  The area does tend to be fairly wet and there are times when getting to the hut without very wet boots is unusual however on this trip I walked the area quite easily.


Heading south from the tinners hut I walked down the right bank of the Avon to Broad Falls.  The left hand image is taken at Broad Falls looking upstream while the right hand image is taken from the top of the “fall” looking south down the river.  The fall is not really a waterfall unless the river is running very high however the river drops quite significantly at this point which probably explains the name.  At this point maybe around halfway around the walk I’d not seen anyone else despite it being a fine bank holiday.

Redlake china clay spoil heap

Walking east from Broad Falls towards Heap of Sinners (a barrow) I looked back west and took the above image.  The mound in the centre is at Redlake and is the spoil heap of an early china clay works.  While it is easy to identify it always comes as a surprise when you spot it in the distance and it is visible from a number of places on the south moors.  Lines of tinners workings can be seen on the left side of the picture.  Looked on as a largely wild Dartmoor has actually been used by man for many years and this walk has a number of examples of the remains left by man in this remote area.  I headed north towards Eylesbarrow and then back to the car seeing quite a few people out enjoying the day.  I was grateful for the tranquillity I’d enjoyed for most of the walk as I always am.