Walk - Passaford & Pavers
Walk information provided with help from Natural England. Map reproduced by permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of HMSO. © Crown copyright and database right 2020. Ordnance Survey Licence number 100022021.
- From Otterton Mill cross the river and turn right onto the footpath alongside it, heading north. Follow this path for a little over a mile, curving left with it until you come to the footbridge which crosses it.
In the period after the last Ice Age, rising sea levels caused by the melting ice flooded inland, the fast-flowing rivers of that time keeping estuaries from silting up. Even as late as the fifteenth century, the River Otter at Otterton was deep enough to provide moorings for vessels as large as 100 tons, and the village was an important port.
When the Saxons arrived by sea during the eighth century, they would have considered Otterton a particularly safe place to establish themselves, being far enough inland to provide some protection from the pirates who continually raided coastal settlements, and over the next three centuries it became one of the major rural communities in Devon. The excellent sea communications, as well as the richness and diversity of its local resources, ensured that the community prospered.
Farming was an important part of its prosperity, and there was a thriving wool trade here. By the end of the sixteenth century, when the river was beginning to silt up and its maritime trade starting to wane, Otterton was turning to agriculture instead for its principal livelihood.
The Domesday Book of 1086 lists the manors along the River Otter as belonging to important Norman overlords, and the feudal tradition continued well into the twentieth century. As late as 1945, 95% of the houses in Otterton were part of Lord and Lady Clinton's estate, and virtually all its inhabitants were either farm labourers or workers in associated trades such as thatchers, forest workers, keepers and masons.
- Turning right here to go over the footbridge, carry on through the field and turn left onto the road above. Carry on past Halse's Lane, to your right, taking the next footpath to your right, just beyond Passaford.
Note the flint and brick outbuildings of Pavers, on your left, and the thatch and cob farmhouse beyond them. Directly across the road, Passaford is similarly constructed.
Many of the thatched cob cottages in present-day Otterton date back to the sixteenth and seventeenth century, and these two farmhouses are both from the same period (although parts of Pavers date back to the fifteenth century, and the core of Passaford may also be this old). Both are Grade II listed buildings and are noted for being built so close together despite the fact that each was a major farm in its own right.
- Follow this ancient green lane steeply uphill to the woods.
Passaford Lane is a sunken trackway or 'hollow way', an ancient path which has been worn into the landscape by the repeated passage of hooves, feet and wheels over many centuries (see the Mutter's Moor Walk). The whole of this area was inhabited from as far back as 5000 BC (see the High Peak walk), and it is criss-crossed with lanes linking farms and settlements from throughout history.
- At the T-junction in the woods turn left, doubling back to the right at the next junction and climbing steeply uphill on the track.
Reaching Mutter's Moor at the top, turn right onto the track and follow this straight across the open ground, carrying straight on ahead when another path crosses yours.
The path heading downhill to the right is Seven Stones Lane, and it is an interesting detour, travelling downhill along another ancient trackway.
- Turn right onto the track along the edge of the forest and follow it down through the car park to the road.
- Crossing the road, carry on through the gate opposite and head towards High Peak on your right, bearing right at the waymarker on the heath to join the Coast Path as it climbs towards High Peak.
- Stay on the Coast Path to where it forks at the edge of the wood.
Here there is a choice of routes.
For the longer route, carry on through the woods with the Coast Path, leaving it to turn right onto the footpath heading uphill through the caravan park at Ladram. Bear right onto Ladram Road and follow it uphill to Sea View Farm.
For the shorter route, leave the Coast Path before it climbs through the woods to High Peak, instead turning right onto Bar's Lane and following it downhill to Sea View Farm.
- From both routes, turn towards Otterton from Sea View Farm and take the lane on your right just beyond the road up from Ladram Bay. Fork left at the junction and then follow the track around to the left until you come to the road.
- Turn left on the road and pick up the footpath to the right shortly afterwards, following this downhill into Otterton and back to the start of the walk.