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I'm on the Dartmoor section of the Two Moors Way and I'm smiling at the camera with the green hiulls of Dartmoor behind me

The Two Moors Way

A HIKER’S GUIDE TO DEVON’S COAST TO COAST TRAIL

117 Miles Across Dartmoor and Exmoor National Parks

Contents

I’m glad you’re here to find out about The Two Moors Way – what a trail! I solo hiked it (wild camping all the way) in July 2023 and wonder why on earth it took me so long to get round to it – it really is worth every step!

I'm standing in front of my tent on the glistening grass, smiling at the camera (hair in plaits, cap on!) with verdant hills and trees behind me
My favourite wild camp spot on Exmoor after a night of heavy rain

It’s a superb trail in south west England and the map below shows the trail heading north east from the coast in south Devon to the coast in Exmoor National Park.

An information board showing a map of Devon  and Somerset with the Two Moors Way route marked in a red line
The 117 mile route of the Two Moors Way, Devon’s Coast to Coast trail

This guide, based on my experience, takes you through all the details you’ll need to plan your hike with your home on your back: it’s a guide specifically for backpackers. It covers wild camping, places to refuel, my gear list and costs, as well as my highlights and recommendations. Let’s dive in!


Where does the Two moors way start and finish?

The Trail Starts in Wembury And Finishes in Lynmouth

The trail begins close to Wembury village, which is about 10 miles along the South West Coast Path from the Barbican in Plymouth (Wembury is easy to get to by bus though). The trail then winds its way 117 miles north east across the Devon countryside and open moorland of Dartmoor and Exmoor national parks (including a section in Somerset) to Lynmouth on the north Devon coast.

 

I'm standing beside a wooden fence smiling at the camera (rucksack on my back, cap on my head!) with Wembury Beach behind me and The Great Mewstone on the horizon. It's a sunny summer's day.

Wembury

Wembury is marked by a distinctive, now uninhabited island called The Great Mewstone on the edge of Wembury Bay. The imposing triangular slab is visible for some miles along the coast and is a nature reserve managed by the National Trust.

 

The trail skirts around the village itself on the Erme-Plym trail to Ivybridge, but unless you need to stock up at the convenience store or fancy a pub lunch, you won’t miss much!

Lynmouth

Lynmouth, by contrast, is a bustling town best known as Lynton and Lynmouth on the coast of Exmoor National Park. The natural beauty draws visitors from far and wide to see the sparkling river as it tumbles into the sea or to explore the impressive Valley of Rocks.

 

‘The Walker’ sculpture marks the end of the Two Moors Way and it’s a memorable place to end the hike, but if you’ve got time I recommend staying a while to explore both Lynton and Lynmouth.

 

 

A polaroid style photo of Stephie smiling in front of a larger than life-size metal wire sculpture of a walker. It's a male walker in a flat cap, with a walking stick and large walking boots.

What Is The Two Moors Way?

The Two Moors Way winds 117 miles across the Devon countryside and two national parks – Dartmoor and Exmoor

A view across the hills of Dartmoor from a rocky tor with my walking poles leaning against a rock in the foreground
View from Hunter’s Tor, above the Teign Valley, Dartmoor

First off, the name is confusing! The Two Moors Way is also known as the Devon Coast to Coast trail, but it’s also a marginally shorter trail in its own right.

The Two Moors Way section was designated as a long-distance trail in 1976. It originally started in Ivybridge on the southern edge of Dartmoor heading north across Exmoor to finish on the Exmoor coast in Lynmouth – hence the Two Moors Way. But, in 2005 The Two Moors Way was officially extended by 15 miles to become the Devon Coast to Coast. These extra 15 miles or so start on the coast at Wembury and follow the Erme Plym trail to Ivybridge where it joins with the original Two Moors Way.

Confused?! Well, most people refer to the Two Moors Way and mean the trail from coast to coast, some people call it the Devon Coast to Coast, and some people mean the original Two Moors Way hike – take your pick! In this article though, I’ll follow the majority, so when I say the Two Moors Way I mean the hike from coast to coast!

Perhaps it’s best to describe the trail by the distinct landscapes that define it:

The Two Moors

Dartmoor And Exmoor National Parks

The trail rises to 532 metres at Broad Barrow on Dartmoor and 487 metres above sea level on The Chains on Exmoor

The Two Moors Way seems to be one of the few trails (maybe the only one?) that cross not one but two national parks: Dartmoor and Exmoor.

And they couldn’t be more different. Dartmoor is wild, sometimes bleak and remote with signs of Neothilic and Bronze Age monuments and settlements every which way you turn. The landscape is marked by impressive, rocky granite tors that appear to bubble up from the ground (in fact caused by erosion that began millennia ago). And Tor bagging has become a way for hikers to explore the incredible landscape – check out the All The Tors Challenge in aid of Dartmoor Search and Rescue if you fancy a go sometime.

Exmoor, by contrast, is characterised by hill farms and a much more verdant landscape. There are deep wooded valleys along some stunningly beautiful rivers where you might catch sight of an otter if you’re lucky. Two things you’re more likely to see are the iconic Dartmoor and Exmoor ponies.

Two wild ponies run across a large expanse of green moorland
Enjoy the freedom of wide open spaces (Dartmoor National Park)

The Coasts On Devon’s Coast To Coast Trail

This is where The Two Moors Way begins: the seaweedy beach at Wembury with Great Mewstone island just off the coast
The start of the trail at Wembury, South Devon

There’s a distinct contrast at the beginning and end of the trail too – Wembury is much less dramatic than the imposing, rugged cliffs on the coast of Exmoor national park. Even so, the south coast is a lovely place to start, with a great beach and plenty of rock pooling – if you’ve got time before you head off!

Rugged cliffs rise behind a short stone pier with a stubby tower.
A more rugged coastline awaits in Lynmouth at the end of Devon’s Coast to Coast trail (The Two Moors Way)

The Devon Countryside

An earth path bisects a field of golden grain with an oak tree on the horizon under an ominous grey sky. Two Moors Way, Devon.
Field Path on the Two Moors Way in mid Devon

As I mentioned above, the first part of the Two Moors Way follows the Erme Plym trail to Ivybridge. These 15 miles take you through the distinctive South Hams countryside, an AONB with its own special landscape to enjoy, often with tantalising views of Dartmoor on the horizon.

Next, once you’ve crossed the wilds of Dartmoor, there are roughly 30-miles of rolling mid-Devon countryside to walk before you reach the boundary of Exmoor National Park. This mid-section mostly follows footpaths and bridleways across farmland, with some sections on country lanes, and passes through some picturesque hamlets and villages along the way.

hIGHLIGHTS On The Two Moors Way

 

I'm in the centre of the photo smiling at the camera and the moorland landscape stretches for miles behind me. It's ca clear, sunny day with fluffy white clouds.
360-degree views of magnificent moorland from Hameldown Beacon on Dartmoor

There are so many highlights along the Two Moors Way that it’s impossible to share them all – and you’ll enjoy discovering them for yourself anyway. Undoubtedly though the stars of the show are the incredible views in the National Parks (and the dark starry skies!). The views, the rivers, the challenges of crossing open moorland (I love a challenge), the ancient sites, and the stunning villages that seem to have stood still in time, all combine to make a hike you won’t forget. And don’t forget the wildlife – birds, fish, deer crossing your path, clouds of butterflies in summer meadows, the wildflowers… I wish I had a good camera!

Dartmoor

A wheatear bird sitting on top of a rustic fence post on top of a stone wall with classic Dartmoor hills behind
Spotting wheatears on the earlier part of Dartmoor on the Two Moors Way
A huige circular stpme wa;; can be seen at the bottom of a hill with meandering paths coming down off the hill behind. There are hills on the horizon and to the right the landscape stretches far into the distance.

Grimspound

As you come down off Hameldown the sight of Grimspound bronze age settlement comes into view – and takes your breath away. There are 24 hut circles within the 150m diameter, 3m thick stone enclosure, and it’s the perfect place to shelter from the wind for a while to eat your lunch!

 

You can find out more about the history of Grimspound on the English Heritage website.

Teign Gorge

Castle Drogo

A brilliant hike on the northern edge of Dartmoor, the walk along the top of the gorge with the sound of the fast-flowing river Teign below made me feel so alive. Check out the views from Hunter’s Tor and Sharp Tor along the track.

 

If you have time you can continue along the track on the Dartmoor Way (links to my guide) for a while (instead of heading off left where the Two Moors Way diverges), and drop down to Fingle Bridge to cool your feet in the wide river beside a beautiful stone bridge, where you can get refreshments at the popular Fingle Bridge Inn. Be warned though, it’s a flippin’ tough trek back up on a hot summer’s day!

Castle Drogo is on the edge of the photo on the right, at the top of a steep wooded gorge. There are hills on the horizon under a cloudy grey sky.

Exmoor

An old stone wall , half covered with bracken, runs downhill and a river can be seen at the bottom of the valley

Cow Castle

I really enjoyed the classic Exmoor scenery as you walk around the perimeter of this Iron Age hillfort, which sits on a hill above the river Barle.


I chatted to a friendly solo fly fisherman (who was given permission to fish from the owner – though how anyone can own a river is beyond me), a farmer by day, and felt like I’d entered a different world – a little glimpse into the precariousness of farming in a changing climate (scary).

Tarr Steps

Tarr steps stone slab bridge crosses the wide river Barle or a rainy day
Tarr Steps mediaeval clapper bridge over the river Barle

Tarr Steps is a listed mediaeval bridge that crosses the River Barle and is the largest clapper bridge in the UK. (A clapper bridge is built from huge stone slabs that simply rest on each other.) Once you cross the bridge there’s a fantastic walk along the river to Withypool. It seems sedate at first but you’ll soon be right on the rocky riverbank – and trying not to slip on the rocks and many tangled tree roots (ahem!)

Myrtleberry Cleave

Lynmouth

As you hike up through shady woodland listening to the river, prepare for the fantastic views of Lynmouth when you reach the top of the Cleave. Then, enjoy switchback after switchback as you head up and down to Lynmouth itself – your knees will definitely be grateful when you finally get there! It’s a superb finish to the hike.

A view along a very steep, wooded valley to Lynmouth and the sea beyond

Towns And Villages

You can’t walk the Two Moors Way and not enjoy the many gorgeous villages you pass through – I had thatched-cottage-roses-around-the-door envy every time!

An old higgeldy piggledy pub with leaded mullion windows and a thatched roof is built from huge granite blocks. The sun catches the stone and troughs of bright coloured flowers sit beside the door.
The Three Crowns in the middle of the small town of Chagford, Dartmoor
A beautiful old stone building with lots of gables and very tall chimneys on the Two Moors Way
Stunning old buildings abound

Many of the settlements you pass through have one or more old pubs to enjoy – make time to experience the atmosphere, local drinks and produce – you won’t regret it!

How To Get To And From The Trail

You’ll be surprised (and pleased) to learn that both Wembury and Lynmouth are easy to reach by public transport.

How To Get to Wembury

  1. Train to Plymouth. Take a train to Plymouth (mainline GWR station between London Paddington and Penzance)
  2. Bus from Plymouth to Wembury. Plymouth City Bus service no. 48. (30 minute journey time. NB there’s no Sunday service). The main bus stop is on Royal Parade which is about a 10-minute walk from the railway station. Head to the city centre along Armada Way until you reach the junction with Royal Parade (follow the link to find the no. 48 bus stand)

Alternatively, you could add an extra day to your hike and walk from Plymouth to Wembury along the South West Coast Path, or add the extra few miles of the Erme-Plym Trail from Plymouth to Wembury.

Travel from Lynmouth

To get back to the main London to Penzance railway line:

  1. Bus to Barnstaple. Filers Travel regular service 309/310 (about an hour’s journey time)
  2. Train from Barnstaple to Exeter. GWR branch line from Barnstaple to Exeter St Davids on the main line between London and Penzance (also takes about an hour

My travel costs (in 2023) are listed below.

Travelling From Further Afield?

Use the following links to help you plan your journey:

How Long Does It Take To Hike The Two Moors Way?

Long-Distance Walkers

I completed the trail in 7 mid-distance days, but if I’d been as hiking fit as I usually am it would be easy to complete in 5 or 6 days. However, it might be worth adding an extra day for exploring – or bad weather. In fact, I had to break the hike after just 1 day due to 2 days of incoming storms with 50mph winds (exposed moorland isn’t the place to be). It was easy for me to get home from Ivybridge (the end of day 1), but there is a campsite on the boundary of the national park if you need shelter.

The terrain itself isn’t too taxing: some steep hills as well as low-level riverside walks (with a few scrambly, rocky sections) and woodland, exposed moorland (sometimes wet) and farmland. The unknown factor that will add to your walking time is the weather – the moors are very exposed and strong winds and rain will slow you down, as will low visibility, of course.

Other Distances

If you prefer to regularly hike shorter distances each day I recommend you have a look at the stages suggested by Sue Viccars in her Cicerone guide Walking The Two Moors Way. (See the info below: Navigation: Paper Maps And Guides). Her stages take 11 days and vary from 7.5 miles to a maximum of 18 miles a day, with most days around 11 miles.

My Itinerary And Daily Miles

  1. Wembury village bus stop to Stowford Bridge (on the Dartmoor National Park boundary) to Ivybridge. 15.5 miles / 25km (travelled home due to bad weather)
    Includes Yealmpton and Ivybridge

    This is an easy hike through gentle countryside that includes woodland, field paths and tracks, and a few country lanes. It’s well-signposted so you won’t need your map too often, and there are several places to stock up on the way.
A view across golden grass and patchwork fields to the rising the dark hills of Dartmoor on the horizon.
Views of Dartmoor National Park from the Erme-Plym trail (day 1) on Devon’s Coast to Coast hike

  1. Stowford Bridge to Aish area. Wild camp. 16.5 miles / 26.5km
    Includes Ivybridge and Holne, plus one of Dartmoor’s longest stone rows, as well as the first clapper bridge on the Two Moors Way plus Huntington Cross boundary stone

    This is a wonderful day’s hike that takes you across open moorland deeper into the moor. There are some good tracks and paths as well as some pathless sections where you might need your map and compass. It can be very wet and boggy in places.
  2. Aish to Chagford. Wild camp on Padley Common. 16.5miles / 26.5km
    This hike includes historic Widecombe-in-the-Moor, stone rows on Chagford Common, the spectacular Iron Age settlement at Grimspound plus the gorgeous village of Chagford

    Another fantastic day’s moorland hike that’s mostly on straightforward tracks and paths with spectacular views all the way. Dartmoor ponies, enigmatic ancient sites, 360-degree views plus 2 gorgeous villages where you can while away some time – this is what Dartmoor National Park is all about. What’s not to love?!
I've set up a wild camp on the Two Moors Way and I'm sitting on the grass in front of my tent with my small gas stove in front of me. The early evening sunshine is on my face - and I'm grinning!
A fantastic sunny evening camp on Padley Common, Chagford (a permitted Dartmoor camping area)

  1. Chagford to Morchard Road area. Wild camp. 19 miles / 31km.
    Includes Castle Drogo, Teign Gorge and mid-Devon farmland.

    Dartmoor slips away behind you today, but not before the spectacular walk above the Teign Gorge with the sound of the river Teign far below and views of Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England. (It was designed by Edward Lutyens and completed in 1930.) There are some longer sections of tarmac on this hike, but you’ll be glad to know that at least they’re on pleasant, quiet country lanes.
  2. Morchard Road to Owlaborough area. Bivvy. 17 miles / 27.4km.
    Includes Morchard Bishop, Witheridge, Washford Pyne and Knowstone

    This day is characterised by farmland and small hamlets. Expect farm tracks, country lanes and field paths. The tiny hamlets of Washford Pyne and Knowstone will have you wondering which century you’re in!
A mellowed stone church with a short, stubby bell tower sits behind a small graveyard
Church of St Peter, Washford Pyne – with the perfect bench for lunch on a hot summer’s day!
  1. Owlaborough to Cow Castle area. Wild camp. 16 miles / 25.5km.
    Finally, you’re in Exmoor National Park, including Tarr Steps and Withypool

    Tarr Steps is one of the highlights of the day, with a fabulous walk along the River Barle to Withypool. Once past Withypool, things really begin to feel like ‘classic Exmoor’ – steep-sided valleys, sparkling rivers (fast after heavy rain) with big views opening up.
  2. Cow Castle area to Lynmouth. 12.5 miles / 20km + 1 mile / 1.5km up to Sunny Lyn Campsite (review below)
    Highlights include Cow Castle hill fort, Simonsbath and Lynmouth

    This is such a glorious end to the hike! It feels more remote and the scenery is spectacular. There are 360-degree ridge-top views, rocky rivers to cross, and breathtaking views from Mrytleberry Cleave. Not forgetting the lovely village of Simonsbath (be sure to visit The Exmoor Forest Inn) and Lynmouth itself. One of the best things about the last day of The Two Moors Way is that you follow footpaths and tracks right down into Lynmouth – no tarmac required!

Navigating

Is The Two Moors Way Well Sign-posted?

A mosaic of stone, wooden, metal and plastic signs
Just some of the many styles of signs and signposts on the Devon Coast to Coast / Two Moors Way trail Note the holey rock, a 2-part sculpture by Peter Randall-Page, One half marks the end of Dartmoor national park and the other half marks the start of Exmoor

Erme-Plym Trail And Mid Devon

The Devon Coast to Coast is probably one of the best signposted trails I’ve hiked – most of the way. You could walk the first section on the Erme-Plym Trail (Wembury to Ivybridge) following signs alone, only using your map to confirm directions at a couple of junctions.

The same can be said for the central mid-Devon section, but by now the emblem has changed from ‘Coast to Coast Erme Ply Trail’ to ‘Coast to Coast MW’ – though the colour’s the same.

Be aware though that the Two Moors Way often crosses or shares other trails for some sections, so be vigilant and don’t end up on the wrong one!

Do I Need A Map And Compass On The Moors?

Yes, certainly on Dartmoor and potentially on Exmoor – especially in poor visibility.

Dartmoor

I'm sat on the ground leaning against a granite Two Moors Way marker stone with my backpack in front of me. It's a grassy moorland scene under a cloudy sky.
A Two Moors Way marker stone on Dartmoor just before a section of pathless moorland

On Dartmoor, things are different. Here, you need to look out for granite marker stones (which are few and far between) with the ‘MW’ Two Moors Way symbol carved into them. This is the section where you can’t do without a map – if you know your map symbols though, there are plenty of other ‘markers’ along the route, from stone rows to tors. But there’s also a pathless section where you’ll need a compass in low visibility – it’s not a huge section, but easy to become disoriented – it’s also very wet and a bit boggy.

Exmoor

Exmoor is different again, and surprisingly really well signposted for open moorland. Look out for regular wooden finger posts, especially at junctions. Once again though, there is a short section or two of pathless moorland on high ground (which is also saturated), so a map and compass are essential in low visibility. It definitely feels ‘safer’ than Dartmoor though – less remote and with more tracks off the moor.

Don’t rely on an app to keep you on the route (you might lose signal or battery power for eg) – make sure you have a paper map and compass. Laminated maps are great but I use a map case as well so that I can attach it to my rucksack (or put it fetchingly round my neck) and not worry about losing it. Ahem, it’s happened in the past! Currently, I use a Silva Ranger compass, which I’d recommend to any hiker.

If you’re worried about the open moorland Sections – don’t!
Hike the alternative lowland routes instead

You can find them in Sue Viccars’ guide and the Cicerone map booklet (see below), but don’t forget to mark them on your paper map too.

Paper Maps And Guides

Maps, compass and guide for the Two Moors Way
All the maps and optional guide you’ll need

The Two Moors Way Coast to Coast hike has various sections shown on a number of OS 1:25,000 paper maps, which can work out pretty expensive. I recommend taking OS 1:25,000 maps of the 2 national parks for a good overview of the open moorland, plus the Cicerone Map Booklet for the whole route (links below).

I don’t recommend relying on the route booklet alone, simply because you don’t get the overview of the moors. This isn’t a worry on the countryside sections at the beginning or middle of the route, as it’s well signposted (the booklet is sufficient), but if you inadvertently come off the route on open moorland you’ll be glad of a full overview.

  • Cicerone Guide to the Two Moors Way by Sue Viccars (broken into 11 stages and includes the map booklet linked above)

(Other ‘whole route’ maps are published by Harvey (1:40,000) and Yellow Publications (Zig Zag series – 3 maps at 1:16,000 scale ).

Digital Maps, Apps And GPX Files

Safety

Solo Hiking

Most people’s fears about solo hiking are other people, and for women hikers that generally means men. Don’t worry though because the Two Moors Way felt very safe in that regard. The trail wasn’t particularly busy, aside from the honeypot villages and tourist sites, and the moorland meant it was easy to find wild camping spots well away from them.

Traffic

There are no major roads to walk along for any length of time (though there are a couple of crossings), but there are some narrow country lanes where you should be aware of traffic, especially farm traffic. Make sure you have a head torch and fluorescent rucksack cover for low visibility and poor weather.

Electronics

Mobile signal is very patchy along the trail, but worse than that is the fact that it’s not easy to find places to charge up (a couple of other backpackers I spoke to mentioned this too). Ensure you have a battery bank and charge up where you can – I’ve mentioned places where I noticed sockets in the Resupply section below.

Navigation

See the previous section for details, but if you need to brush up your skills there are some great navigation courses on Dartmoor.

Both Dartmoor and Exmoor Search And Rescue can be contacted on 112 or 999 – ask for the police

Livestock And Wildlife

Cattle, specifically cows and their calves are a particular worry in the mid-section of the trail when you’re hiking through farmland. Take extra care, and don’t walk between calves and cows – give the herd a wide berth and walk around them (I prefer to walk alongside a field boundary if possible). Keep your dog on a lead around both cattle and sheep (but let your dog off the lead if cows run towards you).

In terms of wildlife, the biggest concern is ticks, which are prevalent on moorland where there’s lots of bracken. Wear long trousers and check yourself regularly. Carry tick tweezers in your first aid kit and use an insect repellent (there are plenty of horse flies that need repelling too!). If you’re hiking with your dog it’s worth knowing what to do if it’s bitten by an adder. (It’s highly unlikely an adder will bite a human unless you stand on it or try to pick it up, but the article goes into more detail.)

 

Can You Wild Camp On The Two Moors Way?

Wild Camping And Campsites

The only places you can legally wild camp on the Two Moors Way are on the Dartmoor Commons  

I'm setting up my small tent on a grassy meadow in late afternoon sun on the Two Moors Way near Chagford
Setting up a wild camp on Padley Common near Chagford (just off the trail), which is a permitted backpack camping area on Dartmoor Commons

To find out where the Dartmoor Commons are you need to refer to the Dartmoor National Park Camping Map (which includes a quick guide to backpack camping and Leave No Trace) to see where the trail crosses the Commons or skirts nearby.

On other parts of the Two Moors Way, you need to find the landowner to ask permission to wild camp (for eg, you could ask a farmer to pitch on the corner of a field), but this isn’t always as easy as it sounds. Sometimes you’ll have to resort to ‘stealth camping’, which often means you won’t have stunning views. In fact, I made a huge cockup on this hike and ended up in my bivvy bag on a patch of grass in front of a field gate – on the verge of a quiet country lane! Nothing like being a vagrant for the night – not recommended! 

Having said that it was fairly easy to wild camp on Two Moors Way, although I treated myself to a campsite for my last night on Exmoor. You can check out the areas I wild camped in my itinerary above and keep reading to find out about the campsite.

If you’re a first-time wild camper or intend to stealth camp check out these two guides before you go:

My small tent is glistening in the morning light agfter heavy rain. The clouds are grey and it looks like more rain's on the way
A very saggy tent after a night of heavy rain on an Exmoor wild camp (although camping isn’t allowed on Exmoor, backpackers certainly do, following the principles of Leave No Trace of cours

Campsites

I didn’t see any campsites right on the trail on this trip and the one I did stay at was about a 15-minute walk from the end of the trail in Lynmouth. I finished hiking late in the afternoon and it was the perfect opportunity to get a shower before the journey home the next day.

Lynmouth

Sunny Lyn Holiday Park. Highly recommended.

Looking across the camping field beside the river at Sunny Lyn Holiday Park in Lynmouth. You can see 3 small backpacking tents in the foreground.
Sunny Lyn Campsite, Lynmouth

Don’t let the name fool you – this is a small campsite perfectly situated right beside the West Lyn River. Backpackers are welcome for a very reasonable £13 a night. Facilities include level pitches, water, an excellent shower/toilet block, a covered washing-up area, laundry, and a small shop. There’s also a pub/restaurant literally a stone’s throw away. The only downside? A 15-minute slog up a really steep hill at the end of the day!

I took a punt and just turned up late in the day (there was no mobile signal in Lynmouth to call ahead) and I was lucky and got a pitch. It might be wise to book in advance though, if you can (ie before you get to Lynmouth), especially during the school holidays.

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Supermarkets, cafes and Pubs – where to resupply

The inside of this old inn is full of character and interior design that reflects it's history and place in the centre of Exmoor National Park.
The historic Exmoor Forest Inn, Simonsbath – perfect old pub for a coffee on a wet day.

Refreshments are easy enough to come by on this trail and you’ll discover plenty of pubs in pretty villages, along with some great cafes. On the other hand, resupply is more difficult. Many small villages have lost their village shop so it can be miles before you come across somewhere you can stock up – make a note of the convenience stores below and you should be good to go.

 All of the pubs, cafes and shops I mention (and used) are on the trail itself, but please follow the links and double-check opening times as they may change throughout the seasons. There may also be other amenities further off the trail.

Erme-Plym Trail

  • Yealmpton: Yealmpton Stores, right on the trail. A small (busy!) grocery store with plenty of choices, including fresh fruit, dairy, pasties and fresh sandwiches, cold drinks, etc. Recommended (There is a larger Londis convenience store off trail – not tested)
  • Ivybridge: Large Co-Op right on the trail. Other supermarkets on the trail in the same area include Morrisons and Tesco. (Town centre pubs and cafes, etc are slightly off trail.)

Dartmoor

 

  • Widecombe-in-the-Moor: The Cafe On The Green, A large, comfortable cafe with an excellent menu (they’ll fill your water bottles for free). Outdoor and indoor seating with sockets to charge your electronics. Highly recommended (most full meals start around £10). NB there are pubs in Widecombe-in-the-Moor, and a shop where you can buy cold drinks, but there is no convenience store
A delicious pancake breakfast in The Cafe On The Green, Widecombe-in-the-Moor, Dartmoor
Delicious buttermilk pancakes and fresh fruit for breakfast at The Cafe On The Green in Widecombe
  • Chagford: Large well-stocked Spar. Includes an excellent grocery range, fresh bread, dairy, fruit, fresh sandwiches, coffee machine, etc, and off-license. Highly recommended. Also, there are plenty of pubs, cafes, bakeries, etc in this large, attractive village/small town
  • Castle Drogo (NE of Chagford): National Trust Cafe. A very large cafe with the usual NT fare, including hot and cold meals, cakes and drinks. The cafe is about a quarter of a mile off the trail (well signposted up some evil steps!) but it’s worth the detour if you need water – there’s a free drinking water tap on the outside of the building available 24-7. The cafe is mostly glass walls and the opportunity to charge up is limited (I only found 2 sockets available). NB. you don’t have to pay to enter Castle Drogo if you only want to visit the cafe/toilets.

 

Mid Devon

  • Morchard Bishop: Church Street Stores An excellent, friendly village shop with a range of fresh food as well as dried and canned goods, plus a takeaway cafe (food made fresh in the store) with a bench or two outside to sit and enjoy your panini and coffee! Water bottles are filled for free. Highly recommended.
  • Witheridge: 2 convenience stores. I wasn’t particularly impressed, but I was able to pick up some basics (although everything was in multi-packs – ie you have to buy 4 apples, 6 bread rolls, etc). (Would recommend you stock up in Morchard Bishop (above) if you want superior service and more choices for solo hikers) Pub on the trail (not tried)

Exmoor

  • Withypool: Withypool Tea Room A traditional tea room with excellent coffee and cakes as well as breakfast and lunches (I had a cream tea). I’ve been a number of times over the years and it’s always been a pleasure. I spotted one double socket beside a table where you could charge up. Highly recommended. There’s also a lovely old pub in Withypool that’s right on the trail
  • Withypool: The Village Shop An excellent village shop with everything you might need, including local, fresh, and dry produce. I can’t say a big enough thank you for all the kindness I was shown when I arrived at the shop soaked to the skin towards the end of a day of torrential rain – one of those encounters that renews your faith in human nature! Highly recommended.
  • Simonsbath: The Exmoor Forest Inn is a real treat. I ducked in for a coffee to wait out some heavy rain and I’d forgotten what a characterful welcoming place it is. Worth a visit for a cider on a hot day or a coffee in the rain, and if you have time they also serve lunch and dinner made with local produce.
  • Lynmouth: The Harbour Shed Fish And Chips A reasonable veggie burger and chips (celebration meal before travelling home!), but I thought they were overpriced (£4 for a regular cappuccino for eg). Limited indoor tables and a small garden with a nice and busy atmosphere. Lynmouth is home to a few cafes, fish and chip shops, and a couple of pubs so you should find somewhere to eat easily enough.
  • Lynton: I didn’t visit Lynton on this hike (it’s up the cliffs and I was staying close to the bus station in Lynmouth), but there are some excellent cafes and a good convenience store there. In fact, I much prefer the atmosphere of Lynton to Lynmouth and wish I’d made the effort!
I'm seen from behind heading down some rocks to the fiver with a water bottle and filter in my hands
If you don’t want to carry the weight of too much water, pack a filter. It’s a great option on the moors (on Dartmoor here), though in the mid-section it’s best to plan to buy it in convenience stores along the way. Annoyingly, you may have to carry several litres between villages (especially if you’re cooking overnight)

My Gear List For THe two Moors Way (July)

 

Rucksack And Packing

  • Lifeventure waist belt (20 years old)
  • Osprey dry bags for electronics, sleeping bag and clothes
  • plastic zip lock bags for wash kit, etc
  • bin bag for tent

Shelter

Sleeping

  • 20 year old Coleman Thermolite sleeping bag
  • Sleeping mat: Thermarest Neoair Xlite NXT

Cooking

  • MSR Pocket Rocket Deluxe stove
  • MSR 374g Isopro gas
  • Mini Trangia 0.8l aluminium cooking pot with lid (also a frying pan) with separate handle
  • Lixada 350ml Titanium mug with lid
  • Light My Fire Titanium spork
  • Victorinox ‘Hunstman’ Swiss Army knife
  • Small square of rough pot cloth
  • Piece of tin foil (to put my stove on if there are no rocks, and it’s useful windshield too)

Navigation

Full details are listed and linked above

  • Dartmoor and Exmoor OS Maps
  • Cicerone Two Moors Way map booklet
  • Clear map case
  • Silva Ranger Compass

Clothing

Wearing

  • Salomon X Reveal 2 GTX trail shoes
  • Rab padded thermal gilet; Craghopper leggings (with zipped side pockets); Mountain Equipment long-sleeve top; Mountain Hardwear lightweight half-zip fleece; sports bra; underwear; walking socks
  • North Face mesh cap

Carried

Wash Kit And Wild Loo Necessities

  • Toothbrush and toothpaste; small microfibre flannel; piece of soap; small tube of shampoo; wet wipes; hair brush and 2 hair ties; tin of Vaseline; personal medication; foot cream; Deet insect spray (recommended – there were loads of horseflies and possible ticks)
  • Mountain Warehouse microfibre towel (doubles as a blanket)
  • Plastic trowel, toilet paper, 4 dog poo bags (+ wet wipes above)

First Aid And Survival Kit

Electronics

  • Sony Experia 1 phone/camera (the battery doesn’t last long anymore – sometimes less than a day if I take video clips)
  • Sprare Nokia 8210 4G phone and charger (I’m paranoid that I won’t be able to contact my son if my Sony breaks or the battery dies. (151g inc charger)
  • Metal-cased Anker 20000 battery bank (old and frickin heavy – 469g! Works well though. (The newer version with a plastic case weighs 345g.)
  • Anker PowerCore 313 10000 battery bank
  • Cable and Rekavin fast charger with foldable pins

Other

  • Petzl Actik-Core head torch and Noctilite lantern
  • MSR ‘Explore’ trekking poles
  • Sawyer Mini water filter (with pouch); generic 2l water bladder; 2 x 750ml water bottles
  • Fulton Aerolite-1 trekking umbrella (86g)
  • Multimat sit mat
  • Prescription reading and sunglasses
  • Selfie stick (also use it as a tripod); blue tooth remote
  • Small A5 handmade notebook, pencil and pen
  • Spares: shoe lace, dyneema cord; clothing peg; webbing strap (for tent compression/spare/tourniquet!); food bag clip; 3 x AAA batteries (headtorch)

Weight

The overall weight of my pack without food and water was approximately 13.5kg

My Costs

Travel

  • Day 1, Wembury to Ivybridge: I returned home (unplanned) due to storms (it was cheaper than staying at a campsite for 3 nights!):
    • Train – open return to Plymouth with a Devon and Cornwall railcard £8.80
    • Bus – single from Plymouth to Wembury £2.00*
    • Train – single from Ivybridge to Plymouth with a Devon and Cornwall railcard £3.10
    • Total: £13.90
  • Days 2 – 7, Ivybridge to Lynmouth:
    • Train – open return from Truro to Ivybridge with a Devon and Cornwall Railcard: £8.80
    • Bus – single fare from Lynmouth to Barnstaple £2.00*
    • Train – single fare from Barnstaple to Plymouth via Exeter with a Devon and Cornwall Railcard: £8.75
    • Total: £19.55

Total: £33.45

(It would have cost a very reasonable £21.55 if I hadn’t had to go home due to the storms!)

* Govt scheme to keep single bus fares to a maximum of £2.00 to help with the ‘cost of living crisis’ (summer 2023)

Groceries

Total: £76.89

Pubs And Cafes

Total: £44.05

Campsite

Total £13.00

Overall Cost £167.39

Average cost per day (excluding travel): £19.13


I was horrified at how much I spent on this trip as I usually aim for around £12 on average per day.

The cost of living crisis means the cost of food has risen by 17%, so perhaps I should realistically budget for £15 a day from now on. However, that doesn’t explain the other £4 a day I spent on this trip. Small convenience stores are generally more expensive than large supermarkets, but I suspect I went overboard on cafes – I really didn’t need to waste £15.00 on an overpriced burger and chips, for eg.

 

Trail Journal

I hiked the Two Moors Way in a fog of depression which started early in the year and was compounded by two later bereavements – it was pretty tough going emotionally at times. Motivation was sometimes difficult to find, especially on a full day of torrential rain on Exmoor. Then there was ‘cow-gate’, and falling over twice. There was a huge error with a wild camp pitch (cows) and deciding to walk on in the dark until I’d had enough and just slept on the verge of a country lane…

It felt like a lot happened in a short space of time! My Two Moors Way trail journal’s coming soon – don’t miss it and sign up for The Extra Mile fortnightly to find out when it goes online. It would be fab to have you along.

Other Long Distance Trails

Are you looking for more inspiration? Then take a look at these trails – they’re all roughly 100 miles long in southern England, and I recommend them all!

The Cotswold Way Ultimate Guide For Hikers. Stephanie Boon sitting outside the market hall in Chipping Campden
87 miles through ancient history on chalk downs and through the Chilterns AONB
Image link: Walking The Ridgeway: The Ultimage Guide To Hiking Britain's Oldest Road
87 miles through ancient history on chalk downs and through the Chilterns AONB
Image Link: Hiking The South Downs Way: Everything You Need To Know!
The South Downs Way

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Much love, Stephie x

 

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