Back in September, we drove up to Dartmoor for some adventuring over my birthday weekend.
It was the most glorious sunny and warm weekend, and we were lucky enough to be invited for a press stay at Paschoe House (a luxury boutique hotel on the outskirts of Dartmoor) on the Saturday too which worked out amazing timing!
I wanted a leisurely start to my birthday so we drove the long, scenic route over the moors from Cornwall on our way, with plans to stop off for a picnic lunch at a spot I’d found on Google Maps called Fernworthy Reservoir.
After a beautiful drive over Dartmoor (and some adventures down some very sketchy narrow Devon lanes), we arrived at the edge of the reservoir and parked up, unloading the dogs and our picnic from the car in search of the perfect spot.
The golden Autumn afternoon light was really perfect as we were walking around, and we even found a little picnic bench to eat our rolls at as well.
The reservoir was much much bigger than I had imagined! On Google Maps it doesn’t look that big, and I’d thought we would easily be able to get around it in 45 minutes or so, but as we arrived we realised it was pretty huge, with enormous sprawling woodlands behind it!
Funnily enough when I had told my mum we were planning to stop off at Fernworthy Reservoir, she had a funny story to tell about this place from when she was younger…
She grew up in Devon, and one day she was out with her friend and her friend’s family exploring Dartmoor, and they’d all stopped off in the car for a quick wander around Fernworthy Reservoir to go into the woods and find the famous stone circle that lies there. It was only supposed to be a 30 minute stop off, and the mum and the sister of my mum’s friend stayed behind and waited in the car, while my mum, her friend and her friend’s dad went off in search of this circle…
…they went into the woods and after about an hour the three of them realised they were a bit lost and needed the assistance of the compass they were using to navigate around the woods (this was in the days before phones and Google Maps!), only to quickly realise that my mum’s friend had dropped the compass and lost it!
It was late afternoon and it was beginning to get darker, which meant it would be even harder to find their way out, and they ended up spending a further two hours walking around and around in these woodlands without being able to find the edge.
At this point I was like ‘mum, have you SEEN the Blair Witch Project?!’.
… anyway eventually after 3 – 4 hours they came to a clearing in the woods which meant they could see the stars. And GET THIS, my mum’s friend’s dad who was with them just happened to be a very well known, skilled sea captain, who was then able to use the stars to help navigate them out of the woods and back to the car!
Can you imagine if they had been lost with anyone else? Or if there had been clouds that night? My mum always insists she was born lucky.
However when the three of them got back to the car, they found it empty! The mum and the sister had gone.
Luckily (again), the dad happened to have a set of car keys on him and they drove several miles down the road to find the mum and sister wandering alone in the dark. They’d gone in search of help from a nearby property, but had ended up walking for miles because Fernworthy Reservoir is TRULY in the middle of nowhere! Thankfully, they all found each other safe and sound.
So you can thank my mum for that story. I had this in my head the whole time we were walking around the reservoir, and while I was in awe at how enormous it was and therefore how huge the forest behind must be. It definitely spooked me out a bit to imagine my mum and co wandering around there lost in the dark; I can definitely vouch for it being in the middle of nowhere, and miles even from the nearest house.
Despite this spookiness, we both agreed it was a really beautiful spot. We only had an hour or so to explore here but I definitely want to come back and walk around the whole thing; it looks like it would probably take around 3 hours if you’re stopping and taking photos – I’m not sure!