• Start SX482 744 Abbey Bridge, Tavistock
• Finish SX647 555 Cadover Bridge
• Distance 18km/11.2 miles
• Ascent 405m/1329ft
• Descent 284m/932ft
• Refreshments Tavistock, Grenofen (off route), Roborough Down (off route) Yelverton,
• Clearbrook, Meavy (off route), Cadover Bridge (ice-cream van)
• Public toilets Tavistock, Bedford Bridge (off route), Yelverton
• Tourist information Tavistock.
NOTE The section between the centre of Tavistock and Whitchurch is complex but well marked: keep a close eye on signage
• Useful website: www.drakestrail.co.uk
Cross the A386 at the pedestrian crossing, and turn left to cross the River Tavy on Abbey Bridge. At the roundabout the High Moor Route goes right on Whitchurch Road. Turn right, and immediately right again through park gates on the surfaced track which runs alongside the river, then crosses it (footbridge) to enter Meadowlands Park.
Turn left through the park, then fork right to soon pass under the Plymouth Road. Follow the Tavistock Canal (right); eventually the track bears away from the canal to cross a road and continues through playing fields to cross the River Tavy and reach a T-junction. Turn right along Brook Lane, then first left through an industrial estate. Follow signs round the perimeter to a roundabout (Morrisons right), and continue alongside the A386. Follow signs across the A386 at the pedestrian crossing and proceed through a housing estate, keeping a close eye on signage, to eventually reach the start of the cycle track once more (Route 27 / Drake`s Trail) just to the southwest of Whitchurch.
Follow the track under the A386 and on through the Grenofen Tunnel. Cross the splendid Gem Bridge and then Magpie Viaduct near Bedford Bridge.
The Gem Bridge was completed in 2012 as part of the Drake`s Trail project (a 34km/21-mile cycling and walking route between Tavistock and Plymouth), and replaces an older viaduct. The Magpie Viaduct was first constructed in 1859, of timber on stone piers, as part of Isambard Kingdom Brunel`s Plymouth to Tavistock Railway. In 1902 it was rebuilt from blue Staffordshire brick. It was named after a nearby pub, The Magpie, which used to stand at Bedford Bridge. The northern tip of Roborough Down has been a popular spot since the mid 19th century when Plymouth residents started to visit by train.
Continue to pass Horrabridge, where the track crosses a minor road. For Long Ash Nursery and cafe turn right, then right at the next junction. Return the same way.
The track continues across Roborough Down to reach the busy roundabout on the A386 in the centre of Yelverton.
You may notice odd embankments and concrete standings as you cross this part of Roborough Down. In 1941 an airfield opened at Yelverton - RAF Harrowbeer - which officially closed in July 1945. Yelverton`s shops were reduced to a single storey to accommodate take-offs and landings, and the roundabout and approach roads built. The Knightstone Tearoom is situated in the former control tower. Today the interest in the history of the airfield is kept alive by the RAF Harrowbeer Interest Group.
Dismount and follow the pavement round the roundabout, still alongside the A386, heading south. Soon turn left where signed and almost immediately right, towards a car park, the other side of which stands St Paul`s Church. Continue along the track, which parallels the A386 and follows the line of an old tramway, with the Devonport Leat on the left.
The Devonport Leat originally ran for 43km (27 miles) from the West Dart River north of Wistman`s Wood to Devonport in Plymouth, and was constructed in the late 18th century (the Act was passed in 1793). Today it enters Burrator Reservoir (1891-98), built between 1891 and 1898 to meet increasing demand from Plymouth. The sections below the reservoir dam now run dry....
Soon the track takes a level course across open moor - still following the leat - to reach a lane junction. Turn left downhill into Clearbrook, little more than a terrace of attractive houses and cottages.
Pass The Skylark Inn. Note A few metres past the pub Route 27/ Drake`s Trail is signed right. Keep straight ahead on the Dartmoor Way, soon crossing a cattle grid and passing under the old railway once more. Cross the River Meavy; at Hoo Meavy fork right, signed to Cadover Bridge, and ascend through pretty beech woodland to cross a cattle grid onto open ground.
On meeting a road at a four-way junction keep straight on to Cadover Bridge (2.4km/1.5 miles).
Side-trip to Meavy. Where the road soon bears sharp left then right, turn sharp left, signed Meavy, and follow the lane downhill, eventually passing Marchant`s Cross and crossing the River Meavy; turn left for The Royal Oak PH. Return the same way.
Meavy is a pretty village with an impressive and very old propped-up oak tree - beside a young pretender - on the village green near the pub (housed in the 15th-centry church house)
and St Peter`s Church. Some say the old oak dates from the time of King John (1166-1216).
En route to Cadover Bridge - which crosses the River Plym - enjoy good views left to impressive Sheepstor which towers above Burrator Reservoir. The grassy sward alongside the car park below Cadover Bridge is a popular picnic spot in good weather.