Twelve members of the rambling club started their walk from a car park at Venford Reservoir.

The weather was dry and warm, although a cool breeze picked up in the afternoon.

Venford Reservoir was constructed in 1907. The engineer was Fred William Vanstone, the contractors were Hawking & Best, Teignmouth and the reservoir was opened by F. Layland-Barratt MP on 26th June 1907.

The walkers reached Combestone Tor by a footpath via Combestone itself, although this tor must be the most accessible tor on Dartmoor, being about 70 metres from a car park. However, it commands superb views of the Dart Valley.

Holne Moor, on the eastern slopes of southern Dartmoor, supplied the group with good views from the extensive ridges along the top.

Walking southwards over Holne Moor, the group noticed several boundary stones inscribed PUDC on one side and RD/H on the other. These are Paignton and Urban District Council (PUDC) Water Works Boundary Marker Stones for Venford Reservoir. RD/H stands for ‘Richard Dawson, Holne’, from whom Paignton Water Works purchased 700 acres of Holne Moor, paying £11 per acre.

After their picnic lunch, the walkers climbed up to Ryder’s Hill, at 515m the highest point on southern Dartmoor. On its summit there are two standing stones and a low cairn, on top of which is a triangulation pillar. One of the standing stones is called Petre’s Bound Stone and it marks the boundary of three civil parishes: Dartmoor Forest, Holne and Buckfastleigh. The cairn, which is not very prominent, was one of the boundary markers of the Forest of Dartmoor mentioned in the Perambulation of 1240 and has been known as ‘Knattleborough’ since at least the 17th century. From the summit there are good views over southern Dartmoor.

The group then walked along Sandy Way, an old moorland path which ran from Holne and Scorriton over the moor to the lower end of Fox Tor Mire and Whiteworks. There is plenty of evidence of tin working in this area, including the overgrown remains of Ringleshutes Mine, the old Engine House with shaft alongside and several girts, where tin was washed.

The views on the return towards Venford Reservoir are superb, but the low level of water in the reservoir is worrying.

New walkers are always welcome at Okehampton Rambling Club. Please be suitably attired for all weather conditions, including sturdy footwear, and bring drinks and a packed lunch.