Haddon Hill and Wimbleball Lake

The weather forecast is for high winds and heavy rain, so I have decided to avoid walking in the hills and instead take a wander around Clatworthy Reservoir.  It is a pleasant drive through the lanes to the reservoir car park and before putting on my boots I wander over to the information board only to discover that dogs are not allowed on the permitted path around the water.

I return to the car and consider my options, Crosby is curled up tight and throws me a look suggesting he has no problem staying in the car whilst I venture out in the rain.  But we are a team and despite his protests to the contrary it would be unfair to leave him behind.  So I rethink my plans and drive the relatively short distance to the car park at Haddon Hill overlooking Wimbleball Lake (Grid Reference SS969285).

A few years ago Lynnie and I had an interesting walk around the lake, then we parked in the main car park by the café.  It is blowing a gale as Crosby and I leave the car park, but I have calculated it is only a short distance on the exposed hill before I descend to the more sheltered path around the lake.

I take a westerly route out of the car park to take a broad path heading towards the hill’s summit.  We walk into the wind and rain and despite it only being a gradual incline it is tough going.

To get some respite I turn my back on the wind and admire the view of the reservoir.  Eventually I reach the summit and bag the trig point at Haddon Beacon, my 133rd Ordnance Survey trig.

It is a cracking spot, but very exposed and I am struggling to stay on my feet so don’t linger long. Leaving the trig we take a path heading north and then turn left along a faint track to reach a clearer footpath that we follow steadily downhill to reach a gate into woodland.

After crossing a forestry track I continue on the path skirting a fenced plantation to reach a stile and within a few yards steep stone steps with a handrail leading down to a tarmac driveway.

I turn uphill on the driveway with the dam of Wimbleball Lake to our left. This is an impressive structure, 300 metres across and standing 50 metres high.

The drive takes me to the top of the dam where I turn and cross, the wind and rain is driving in from my left so I turn to look out across the water.

The reservoir was created by damming the River Haddeo.  Work commenced in November 1974 and the lake first provided a water supply in 1978. It was a further two years before the water first flowed over the spillway.

On the far side of the dam I turn right to follow the lakeside path, pausing occasionally to look out over the water.  This is a large lake with a surface area of 374 acres and holding 21,320 megalitres of water.

The path goes behind the sailing club and then besides a children’s activity park, here there is an option to divert to the café, which Crosby would probably appreciate, but we stay on the lakeside path heading to Bessom Bridge.

On reaching the bridge we cross the water and then turn right to continue along the eastern side of the lake. At a road we turn right and cross the Causeway over a finger of the lake and then take the footpath on the right, this path soon becomes boggy, but gets firmer as it enters trees besides the waters edge.

Emerging from the trees and continuing on below Lower Holworthy Farm the sun suddenly appears and it starts to warm up.  The path continues around the inlet in the open until it reaches West Hill Wood and an option of routes. The “rugged path” running by the lakeside, is for summer use, or the broader track heading high in through the woods.  It is definitely not summer, so I avoid the “rugged path”.

The two paths re-join as the route heads down the Cleave inlet.  The path continues through an area where the trees have been cleared and at the head of the inlet a footbridge crosses the River Haddeo.

The way becomes narrow as it winds through the trees besides the waters edge.

The wind and rain appear to have passed and it’s pleasant conditions for walking.  Staying on the lakeside path I ignore a footpath on the left and reach the deer park.  Here I cross a new stile and join a track, turning left to double back on ourselves and head back towards the trees.  In the woods I take an uphill footpath on the right to moorland.  I continue up the hill and then turn right along a track to return to the car park and my starting point.

Crosby and I have walked nine miles and despite the forecast it has been relatively dry, however, I am pleased I opted to keep off the hills as the wind has blown for most of the afternoon.

To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Outdoor Explorer OL9 – Exmoor

To view this 9 mile walk on OS Maps Click Here

3rd March 2019

© Two Dogs and an Awning (2019)

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