Venford Falls and the 'Wild Man of the Woods'

Blog - Phil-osophy on Landscape Photography > Venford Falls and the 'Wild Man of the Woods'
08/07/2013 - 12:31





 “To sit in the shade on a fine day and look upon verdure is the most perfect refreshment.”


Jane Austen




Deep in a wooded coombe on southern Dartmoor, are the graceful twin cascades of Venford Falls. The Venford Brook runs from here down a steep hanging-valley into the River Dart.


The location is a bit tricky to find and people who have visited are a bit cagey about its whereabouts. But I shall 'let the cat out of the bag'...!


 I wandered along the western flank of Venford Brook valley, above the tree line, as it exits the Venford reservoir.


 After a few hundred metres the tree canopy below showed a marked sudden change in elevation, suggesting a change in bedrock height and thus a potential place for a significant waterfall.





On the left of the path above the trees (almost parallel to the change of tree canopy height below) are two gnarled hawthorn trees and immediately on the right are the remains of a drystone wall.


Taking care follow the drystone wall down into the vale for 30metres or so and then bear west-north-west descending the very steep grassy bank downstream and the falls will come into view after another 3 or 4 minutes of walking.


The use of walking poles is recommended, as is letting someone know where you have gone exploring.  It’s remote enough and with the hum of the whitewater gently filling this hanging-valley no one may hear you shout, should you have the misfortune to twist an ankle for example. Also I would highly recommend even in warm weather wearing long trousers and long socks for your descent into this coombe as with the tall bracken there is a risk of being bitten by Ticks (some of which carry the nasty bacteria that cause Lyme Disease).


Despite it being tricky to get to, the location is richly rewarding in its beauty.


I rather like the anthropomorphic rocks between the falls, which seemed to me at least, like the face of a ‘wood-wose’ (a ‘wild man of the woods’ from various folklore tales) looking skyward out of the gorge.






Another view of the falls...







Upstream of the twin falls are some smaller drops and many beautiful zig-zaging stretches of whitewater with banks festooned in large ferns.


The area below looks to have some interesting photographic opportunities too.


I am sure I shall be down there again soon exploring more of this brook’s journey down into the Dart valley.




Karl Hutchinson
11/10/2013 - 10:40
Great photos Phil, the first one especially! Thanks to your directions I managed to find the elusive falls for myself! It's well worth a stroll down from there to the river Dart. Some great opportunities there - I took a few if you wanted to have a look -
Phil Hemsley
11/10/2013 - 11:35
Many Thanks Karl for taking the time to look at my work and for your generous comment on my photos. Glad to hear that my article helped you find the elusive falls, they are certainly worth the effort of an exploration.

The vale through which Venford brook tumbles is a beguiling one and it offers a wealth of opportunities for bot the grand views and for more intimate 'inner landscape' studies of the smaller rapids and falls elsewhere on the stream. A polarizer is good for reducing scattered light off the humid leaves and wet rocks and enhancing the natural rich tones of the verdant mosses and ferns.

A pleasure to look at your Venford Falls and Dart photos, ones which show a genuine admiration for those places.
Karl Hutchinson
11/10/2013 - 12:42
Yes a truly wonderful place! Thanks for the tip about using a polarizer, another thing to add to my Christmas list... ahh the wife will be pleased!
Lois Wakeman
02/07/2014 - 16:30
The circular walk over Bench Tor, down through White Wood, back along the leat and returning beside the brook is one of my favourite Dartmoor walks. You have pinpointed some more diversions from the walk to explore - for which, thanks,
Richard Kenny
22/10/2016 - 20:50
Hi Phil,
I visited the falls this morning, a bright, sunny, autumn morning. Your instructions were spot-on, although I think there were quite a few visitors before me, as the path was quite well defined and easy to follow. A delightful location, with the sun streaming though the trees. Got the required pictures, although a pair of wellies is now on my Xmas list!

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