Canonteign Forest (5.1 miles)

Grade:Moderate Medium, 8.2 km / 5.1 miles, 161 m total ascent

This walk does not enter any of the Military Firing Ranges.

Route Special Concerns:

This is a walk mainly through Canonteign Forest, owned and managed by Forestry England for the purposes of recreation. It is a wonderful area dominated by both native and conifer trees. There is also some walking on road which is particularly steep – but not too long. This route is not wheelchair or pushchair friendly, however, if are on a mobility scooter and were to park up at SX 82935 83219, you could get down the track to just above Hyner Rocks, but this would involve returning the same way.

National Grid References (NGRs) are provided to aid with the directions.

Firing Ranges: 

This walk does not enter any of the Military Firing Ranges.


The starting point is at Tottiford Reservoir Car Park. Please note that the lane outside of the car park (and which you will need to drive along) is signposted as a ‘Private Road’, however, it is regularly used by traffic and is presumed to be owned by South West Water. Log stacks from tree felling operations can often be seen piled up on the side of the lane.

There are no pubs here, but you are only a 10-minute drive from the villages of Bridford, Christow and Hennock, where The Bridford Inn, Artichoke Inn and Palk Arms can be found respectively, each worthy of a visit for a pint or a meal. There are no toilets but neighbouring Trenchford Reservoir Car Park (pay and display) has some.

This walk does not properly visit Tottiford Reservoir but you are more than welcome to walk around all (or part) of the lake. It is flat and highly recommended.

Route Description:

  1. Leave the car park by turning right and walking along the lane, with glimpses of the reservoir to the left. At the end of the lane turn left, then shortly right onto another lane, ascending quite steeply at first, through a plantation. The road levels out before abruptly dropping down towards Shuttamoor Farm. In winter you might be lucky enough to spot Shuttamoor Rock, a small but striking tor above a field to the right.
  2. Take care as you descend to the farm. Known locally as ‘Shootimoor’, Shuttamoor is perhaps best-known for its disused micaceous hematite mine, which once provided the substance for use in rust-resistant paint. On the left, beside a barn, look out for an Ordnance Survey benchmark, quite low down, on the wall.
  3. Steeply ascend the lane with Waye Down on your left. After passing a track coming down from the left, where the road levels out, turn right in a bay, and pass the Canonteign Forest sign (SX 82567 83059). Walk along this lovely, straight path on Barton Down. Ignore all mountain bike trails on both sides of the path. There is a section where the path peters out, but strike ahead and slightly left and you won’t lose it. At the end of the track, turn sharp right onto another which heads through Fleetwood Plantation (SX 83101 82898).
  4. This is a splendid track and it gradually descends to a left-hand bend. On the right is the old pond where water from a stream is pumped into a leat which feeds the manmade Canonteign Falls. In fact, on the opposite side of the track the leat emerges with water leaving a pipe. The original watercourse, which has carved a dramatic gorge, still flows, but with less ferocity. There is a track junction here and you will need to keep left (SX 82575 82818).
  5. As you walk through Birch Cleave Wood, you cannot fail to hear the roar of Canonteign Falls, which, despite proximity, cannot be seen from here. In summer you can hear the excitement from its visitors. The track bends right and levels out on the side of Canonteign Down, which was once a large area of downland before being afforested.
  6. It is easy to lose one’s thoughts in these woods, but you will probably become aware of when the track bends quite considerably to the right and the area to the left becomes more bare (SX 83081 81934). To visit Hyner Rocks, turn left into the woods just before reaching the bracken and descend to the right. In just a few minutes you will have come to a terrific viewpoint, the top of the rocks, where the Beadon Brook valley opens up. This is the most perfect spot for lunch. The rocks extend down the hillside, but the gradient is so steep that it is not really recommended.
  7. Reluctantly leave the views behind and return to the track via the same route. Turn left and follow it uphill. At a track junction, keep left and ascend once again (SX 82838 82220). It briefly declines to a small ford and then climbs gently through Netton Cleave Wood, below Netton Farm. The track can be muddy in places.
  8. Pass to the left of the gate at the end of the track and turn right onto Beadon Lane. Pass Tottiford Farm and notice its benchmark, roughly in the middle of the structure adjacent to the road. Steadily ascend and turn left just after the private drive to Lakeside to walk back to the car. At home, don’t forget to tick-off those Dartmoor 365 items and Dartefacts!

Extra Dartefacts on route by SX Squares

Map may take a few seconds

Dartefacts to visit: 14