Ted Hughes OM
Ted Hughes’s funeral was held 3rd November 1998 in St. Peter’s Church, North Tawton, Devon. Subsequently, in accordance to his wishes and his will his body was cremated in Exeter with only his close family in attendance. His ashes were scattered at a remote location in upper Taw valley on northern Dartmoor (near to Taw Head), a National Park in the centre of Devon, England. He had also expressed a wish that a simple granite stone engraved with his name will be sited near the rising of the Taw, Dart, East Okement and Teign rivers.
In 2001 the memorial stone was airlifted to its final resting place, but its exact location remained a secret. In the summer of 2003 the stone was discovered and its grid co-ordinates became local knowledge.
N 50° 39.715 W 003° 58.145
30U E 431507 N 5612677
How to get there?
The walk to the stone covers some of the military firing ranges, so you should check firing times before setting off.
An ordnance survey map and compass are also essential, together with sturdy footwear and appropriate clothing.
Approach the Observation Post 15 SX 603878 by the military road from Okehampton Camp. The walk starts at Belstone. Take the lane heading south and leftwards past the old stocks on Belstone Green. After half a mile, this passes through a gate on to the open moorland and becomes a track heading roughly south.
This track runs for over a mile through the great natural amphitheatre of Taw Marsh. Ahead is the prominent and conical Steeperton Tor, crowned by military huts.
When the track peters out follow the Taw (now a tumbling brook) to the right (west) of Steeperton Tor. The path climbs steeply on the right hand side of the Taw.
After a climb up through the spectacular Steeperton Gorge, a ford is reached close to the old and disused Knack Mine.
Cross the ford here and take the military track, which climbs diagonally to the south.
After half a mile and soon after passing a military observation post, a track goes off to the right. This descends steeply to the west back to the River Taw, which should be crossed once more.
Continue uphill for 200 yards to avoid the flat marsh on your left (south). Then turn sharply left along the solid edge of the marsh and still heading south.
Eventually the bank edges close back to the main channel of the river and becomes steep with boulders clinging to the hillside.
On the opposite bank is a grassy mound, probably once the spoil heap of medieval tinners, and the Ted Hughes Monument is on its top.
Cross the Taw very carefully, as there are hidden holes and deep pools.
Return back to Belstone the same way, or if you are feeling adventurous and have stout footwear return right down the River Taw – though it can be boggy after rain.
If visibility deteriorates while you are out keep within sight of the Taw as you head downstream and it will take you back to Belstone.
Allow 4 - 5 hours for the 7 miles walk - which is not an easy one. In winter, or in the mist some of this area is very exposed and lonely. It could get wet underfoot but there are no really boggy places apart from the heads themselves.
This area lies in the army firing range, so it shouldn’t be approached if a red flag is flying nearby. Weekends and August is usually just fine.
Anyone up for a hike in spring 2011? ;)