A HOST of Teignbridge civic dignitaries, professionals and local landowners came together to celebrate the 25th anniversary of the Templer Way, one of the county’s oldest and most established walking routes.
Up to 75 people gathered together for a day of celebration and walking along the scenic 18-mile public footpath which traces a path from Haytor, Dartmoor, to the quay in Teignmouth - the route used to take high quality granite from moor to sea.
Highlights of the day – which was declared a huge success by all those who were invited - included the unveiling of two newly carved granite markers at the start and end of the route and a lunch at Stover School.
The Templer Way is more than just a scenic waymarked route for walkers which links Dartmoor to the sea port of Teignmouth.
Its story dates back to 1772 when a gentleman called James Templer was born in Exeter.
Templer was raised as an orphan and when he was still young, ran away to sea. He settled in India where he made his fortune, apparently through the building of docks, before returning to Devon. He purchased the then run-down Stover Estate and built the new Stover House and renovated the estate.
In 1792 his son, also called James, built a canal between Teigngrace and the tidal River Teign at a sea lock near Newton Abbot, giving direct access to the estuary. This watercourse, Stover Canal, enabled clay to be exported from workings on his land to Teignmouth Docks.
In 1820 James Jnr’s son George built a granite tramway from Haytor to link with the end of the canal at Teigngrace, and the New Quay at Teignmouth. He did this so he could export granite being extracted from his Dartmoor quarries.
The link completed an intriguing mix of transport infrastructure within a relatively short distance. Not only did the tramway carry granite, its rails were also constructed of carved lengths of granite, a unique feature as far as is known.
Quarried rock was transported to Teignmouth, where it left for a variety of destinations. Haytor granite has been used in the building of many famous and iconic buildings including the British Museum, London Bridge and Covent Garden.
The peaceful and picturesque route today includes quiet abandoned quarries, a granite tramway, a canal, estuary paths, quaysides and other remains of an industrial.
It runs over a mixture of public rights of way and permissive paths which are managed and promoted by a partnership consisting of Devon County Council, Dartmoor National Park Authority, Teignbridge District Council and the Teign Estuary Partnership.
Its history and its future as an increasingly popular destination for residents and visitors, was marked with the special walking event on Sunday 7 October 2012.
Guests included civic officials from Devon County Council, Dartmoor National Park Authority and Teignbridge District Council alongside Mayors, Chairmen and their guests from Ilsington Parish Council, Bovey Tracey Town Council, Teigngrace Parish Council, Newton Abbot Town Council, Haccombe-with-Coombe Parish Council, Stokeinteignhead Parish Council, Shaldon Parish Council and Teignmouth Town Council.
The day started with the unveiling of the granite marker at Haytor by Dartmoor National Park Authority Deputy Chairman Cllr Maurice Retallick before a group of 25 walkers were guided along the entire length of the Templer Way.
Cllr Retallick, who is also Chairman of the Haytor and Bagtor Commoners Association, said: “It is unusual to have interpretation or waymarking on the open moor, however we are delighted to recognise the working history of the moor alongside the more scenic and recreational qualities which most people associate with Haytor today.
“The Templer Way must be fairly unique in that you can stand at this new marker point at Haytor, being one end of this middle distance walk and on a clear day see the distinctive profile on the horizon of the Ness Cliffs at Shaldon which are not far from the end of the Templer Way.”
Stover House, now the central hub of the Stover School campus, provided the perfect venue for Devon County Council to host a celebratory anniversary lunch for all the agencies, walkers and several of the key landowners.
Cllr Jerry Brook, Chairman of the County Council, welcomed counterparts from Dartmoor National Park and Teignbridge District Council, together with representatives from all of the parish and town councils which have the Templer Way passing through their boundaries.
Cllr Brook said: “All our organisations appreciate what a superb facility we have in the Templer Way. It provides a healthy enjoyment to residents and visitors alike, as well as a means of bringing economic benefits to the area and highlighting important aspects of the County's rich industrial past.”
The anniversary walking group were the first members of the public to use the towpath of the lower section of the Stover Canal, a route which has recently been successful in attracting Landfill Tax Credit grant monies and is currently being upgraded in readiness for its opening to the public next spring.
After completing the Teign Estuary section and using the Shaldon Ferry to cross to Teignmouth the celebratory walk ended with the unveiling of the granite end marker on the New Quay.
The Haytor granite used for the marker was discovered during a recent refurbishment of the historic quay and generously donated by Mr Cyril Boyne the owner of the New Quay. The stone, which weighs just under a tonne and is cone shaped, would have been worked using hand tools for a specific client or building, but appears to have been left behind on the quay and subsequently used as infill.
Cleaned up, inscribed and carved with the Templer Way symbol, a combination of a tramway wheel and the tiller from a barge, the marker stone was unveiled by Mr Boyne, Teignbridge District Council’s Executive Spokesperson for Tourism Cllr Sylvia Russell, who is also the Chairman of the Teign Estuary Partnership, Teignbridge District Council Chairman Cllr Chris Clarance and Mayor of Teignmouth Cllr James McMurray.
Cllr Russell said: “Having two unique new markers will really encourage everyone to explore the full length of the route either as whole day trip or perhaps in more manageable bite-sized bits.
"This is a fascinating journey through local heritage as well as a diverse and intriguing range of habitats and landscapes. Of course as a Teignmouth resident I would add that anyone walking from moor to sea is saving the best bit till last, but there are both obvious and hidden delights along the whole length of the route.”
A Templer Way route guide is available from local information centres or through the websites of Devon County Council (www.devon.gov.uk), Teignbridge District Council (www.teignbridge.gov.uk) and the Dartmoor National Park Authority (www.dartmoor-npa.gov.uk).