We started our walk in the free car park next door to Okehampton Castle, where you can either climb a wooden stile onto the wooden footbridge across the West Okement River or take the easy route through a gate next door to the car park.
The West Okement River rises from West Okement Head, which is close to Cranmere Pool high up on north Dartmoor. The river flows around Great Kneeset, past Lints Tor, down past Black-a-Tor Copse National Nature Reserve, through an enchantingly beautiful valley and on into Meldon Reservoir just outside Okehampton.
From the reservoir the river continues down through Okehampton woods, and past English Heritage’s Okehampton Castle, which is the remains of the largest castle in Devon. Building started soon after the Norman Conquest as a motte and bailey castle with a stone keep, then the castle was turned into an amazing residence in the 14th century by Hugh Courtenay, Earl of Devon, much of whose work survives. Sadly, after the last Courtenay owner fell afoul of Henry VIII in 1539, and the castle declined into the ruin still standing today.
We crossed the wooden footbridge bridge (suitable for pushchairs and wheelchairs) then turned right, or at least I did. Maisie shot straight into the river, which is very wide and gently flowing at this point!
As Maisie gets older she is absolutely loving our walks, she’s growing much stronger and bolder, she’s always out in front and rarely slows her pace as she runs from one side of the track to the other exploring the undergrowth. She’s become a complete joy to take out, her recall is superb and she checks back at me constantly. I didn’t realise quite how much I’ve missed going for walks with a fun and obedient dog since I lost Daisy and Skye. She’s very beautiful, so happy and full of fun, she makes me laugh out loud every single day!
There are numerous tracks, trails and paths in the woods here, you can zig-zag to your heart’s content but as she’s only five months old I didn’t want her out for much more than an hour, we followed the river as far as we could then headed uphill and crossed the golf club road into the Deer Park so she could run like a loon as the cattle have been taken off!
There are wonderful views from up there, you can see Okehampton Castle down in the valley and for miles beyond. On the other side of the fence right at the top is the Granite way.
Easy walk back down to the river for a quick dip (Maisie, not me) then back to the Visit Dartmoor van and a very peaceful and productive afternoon working in my home office as Maisie passed out and slept for three solid hours.