In this video above I take you on a tour of Lustleigh Cleave and the the river Bovey valley on eastern Dartmoor. The place is stunning, with hidden bridges and steep slopes to explore, all with no vehicular access, which just adds to its mystical “lost world” feel. At the bottom of this page, you will find places to stay in your van in the Lustleigh area, and a longer alternative edit of the Lustleigh Cleave video that I have put on Vimeo.
Lustleigh Cleave, means “cliff” or “cleft”, in old English. The Cleave itself is a large geological fault line (the steep valley) which forms part of the Sticklepath fault line that starts in Torquay and forms a line through the Bovey Basin, along the eastern edge of Dartmoor (including Lustleigh Cleave) and on to Bideford Bay in north Devon.
The walking in the area is fantastic. There are many paths and bridleways that criss-cross the valley, woodland and fields and allow you to make up your own routes through the area. You will also find climbers and boulderers scaling many of the huge granite boulders that litter the woodland.
The Old Clam Bridge
Right in the heart of the valley is an old clam bridge. The bridge consists of an old tree trunk with hand railings attached. The bridge has been in place for around a century and links the parishes of Lustleigh and Manaton, with the river Bovey being the border. The tree trunk has been replaced occasionally over the years to maintain safety, that is until Dartmoor national park authority closed it a few years back over “health and safety fears”!
Recently though, the bridge has been opened again with new signs saying “use at your own risk”. Its great to see it back in use, but if you don’t want to be that adventurous, a newly constructed bridge next to it will safely transport you across the river. I believe the new bridge was built by the Army, as all materials had to be moved in by hand into the valley as there was no vehicular access anywhere near this spot!
Another feature to visit is Horsham Steps. When I first visited I didn’t know what to expect – I just thought it would be some stepping stones across the river. Well, I was kinda right, because the “steps” are actually huge moss-covered boulders that cover the river, with the water flowing directly beneath them. It really is a sight out of a lost world, and makes for some great photos.
Staying locally in your van
Below is the map overview of the Lustleigh Cleave and Bovey valley area. If you are in a camper van or motorhome you can wild camp in a small car park at the foot of the valley, with stunning views up the wooded Cleave. Here’s the Google Maps link to that car-park. Alternatively you can stay in your van nearby at the Kestor Inn at Water, near Manaton. They will allow you to overnight in their car park if you buy some drinks or a meal at the bar.
Here are a load more photos from the area for you to check out. If you have any questions of comments, be sure to leave them in the comments section below!