With woodland and riverside walks, a walled vegetable garden, apple orchard and a delightful courtyard cafe, Parke, on the outskirts of Bovey Tracey, has something for all lovers of the great outdoors.
The estate, now run by the National Trust, can be traced back to the 12th century with the present house, headquarters of Dartmoor National Park Authority, rebuilt between 1826 and 1828 by William Hole.
The main entrance to Parke is off the B3387 to Haytor and beyond but parking spaces are limited and a good alternative is to park in Bovey Tracey itself and access the estate via the Mill Marsh Park entrance on Bovey Bridge.
There is a large children’s playground here as well as outdoor exercise equipment and the main pathway, alongside the River Bovey, leads to a bridge under the Monks Way, the boundary between Mill Marsh and Parke.
Sections of the riverside walk are currently out of bounds due to bridge repairs but if you take a right at the information board you will be on the Wray Valley Trail which follows the former railway line between Bovey Tracey, Lustleigh and Moretonhampstead - an 11 kilometre hike for the more energetic.
Along the way look out to your left for some delightful riverside beaches which make ideal picnic spots as well as a safe playground for children and four-legged friends!
The entrance to Parke’s facilities are signposted to the left and after crossing the River Bovey via two stone bridges you will arrive at a handy halfway house, the popular Home Farm Cafe which is open from 10am to 5pm and serves lunches until 3pm. Dinner is available on Friday and Saturdays but booking is essential.
Nearby is the Bovey community walled garden, created through an agreement with Bovey Climate Action and the National Trust and well worth a visit, and the apple and damson orchard.
Parke House itself is not open to the public but there is a pathway through the vast open meadow in front of the building and this will bring you back to the Wray Valley Trail and the return route to Mill Marsh Park and Bovey Tracey.
This is an easy, interesting walk and most areas are suitable for buggies in dry weather.
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