The group of 14 walkers were lucky that despite the forecast, only a little light rain towards the end marred what was essentially a fine walking day.  

The sun remained behind clouds for the duration of the walk with a light wind blowing, although it did get muggy once or twice when the wind dropped.    

This 6.5 mile walk through the rolling Mid-Devon hills started from Morchard Bishop with much of the route along the Two Moors Way.   

A short stretch of the long-distance trail also incorporates The Queen’s Walk dedicated to the Queen on her 90th birthday in 2016.  

There was a little lane walking, but the terrain was mostly on well-signed footpaths and bridleways and through fields.  There was much less mud than the group had anticipated.

The recorded history of the village goes back to at least 1165 when the Bishops of Exeter purchased the manor of Morchet (great wood).  

Morchard Bishop was once crossed by a Saxon herepath (military road) and much later became the old turnpike road linking Barnstaple and Crediton. 

The village stands on a hill of 570 ft in the heart of Devon’s cob and thatch area and has the longest terrace of thatched houses in the county.  They are now all dwellings but in the past, many would have had commercial uses such as a dairy, grocer’s shop or workshop.  

St Mary’s parish church which sits on the site of an early medieval church is a landmark for miles around. The bell tower is 95 ft high.   

Bishop Lacy of Exeter took a personal interest in the 15th-century rebuilding, and in 1451 he granted an indulgence (a remission for sins) to anyone who gave money or labour to the rebuilding work or the church furnishings. In 1548 Edward V1 forced the bishop to hand over the manor to Sir Thomas Darcy.  

Of particular note in the church is the beautifully carved and painted medieval rood screen reconstructed by Exeter craftsman Herbert Reed in 1928.  

The screen was taken from the church during Cromwell’s Commonwealth and installed at nearby Beech House. It was returned to the church in 1840 and adapted to form a tower screen with multiple tiered sections.  

It was reassembled as a whole and carefully restored to its original position in 1930.  One of the most peculiar incidents in the long history of St Mary’s church came in 1952, when a meteorite struck the church tower. Thankfully, the damage was minimal.  Further information can be found at    

Just before leaving the village to pick up the Two Moor Ways towards Woodgate and Weeke, the walkers passed by the parish war memorial where a second poignant memorial was erected in 1944 in memory of the crews of the Royal Australian Airforce and Royal Canadian Airforce lost in the Halifax bomber collision in the area in November 1944.  

Only one man survived, Pilot Officer H R Pugh of the RAAF who was sadly listed as missing on flying operations on 18 April 1945.  

Nearing Shobrooke, the walkers turned eastward towards Knathorne then returned northward towards Oldborough, crossing the brook and continued to Watcombe and Birchenbeer corner.  

The final stretch, after recrossing the brook, was a steady climb up to the church and a chance for the group to explore inside. Opposite the churchyard is Morchard Bishop primary school onto which is affixed a plaque in memory of Ernest Bevin, the British statesman, trade union leader and Labour Party politician who served as Minister of Labour and National Service in the wartime coalition government.  

After his mother died, he moved to Copplestone in 1889 to live with his half-sister’s family and attended the school here.    

A few yards further and the walkers were back at the car park. Post walk refreshments were enjoyed at Bow Garden Centre.

As ever, new walkers are always welcome. Meet at the post office in George Street, Okehampton ready to leave at 9.30am. Please be there in plenty of time so that the group can leave promptly.    

Next week’s walk will begin at Postbridge Forestry Commission car park. Where possible, we try to share cars though this cannot be guaranteed.  You should be suitably attired for all weather conditions, including sturdy footwear and bring a packed lunch.