We see so much natural beauty in Devon and Cornwall, it’s easy to forget how much of the spectacular scenery is due to the impact of man, and industry.
Last summer, after our annual pilgrimage to Chagstock festival, we spent an absolutely beautiful day climbing dappled, shady wooded slopes, wandering amongst exotic, sub-tropical ferns, and gazing up at thundering waterfalls.
And we did all this on one huge, man-made estate on Dartmoor.
The Canonteign Estate was transformed by the third Lady Exmouth after the collapse of the mining industry in the late 19th century. She had the mill leat that powered the mine diverted over a 220ft cliff, making England’s longest drop waterfall.
The estate also has seven lakes, and other, smaller waterfalls, all connected by a series of Victorian stone steps and pathways.
We first came to Clampitt falls…
About halfway between Clampitt falls and the top of the cliff – over which Lady Exmouth’s main waterfall drops the 220ft to the forest floor below – is the brief respite of a bridge and viewpoint, and from here I shot a quick video clip.
Before you reach the top of the falls, you reach an enclosed, seemingly prehistoric valley, populated by giant tree ferns and strange green foliage.
Intrepid explorers – Yours truly on the right.
Arriving at the top of the falls, the view over the rolling Dartmoor countryside is well worth the walk, as you can see here.
After the stroll back down through the woods, a cream tea (or a well-deserved, chilled local cider) at a picnic table on a jetty by the lake, was just what we needed to finish off a memorable afternoon.
We were only there for a few hours, and explored barely half of the estate, but with the Tudor manor house, a large children’s playground, watersports, and more, you could easily spend all day there.
But don’t take my word for it, go there yourself.