I first decided to visit Sticklepath after seeing it on a map – not only did it sound like a village from a Fairytale, I saw it had a museum and the added bonus of only being a few minutes from the A30, which would maximise the chances of me not getting lost.
When I arrived and parked up, I realised the museum was a National trust place, and as I had my volunteer card decided I of course had to go in.
Finch Foundry is perhaps not somewhere I would have chosen to go out of my way for, as I generally don’t think of myself as interested in the industrial side of history. However it was genuinely one of the most interesting museums I’ve been to, and I took Pat back there the next day!
Finch Foundry is the last working water-powered forge in England, and was one of the South West’s most successful edge tool factories which, at its peak, produced around 400 edge tools a day. It’s downfall was basically down to the lack of proximity to the railway network.
After a talk by a very knowledgeable and interesting member of staff, I wandered out into the gardens, purchased a tuna sandwich (that was actually mostly mayonnaise, bleurgh) and went out to the footpath that forms part of the Two Museums Walk . I didn’t have the time or the inclination to do the whole walk – especially as it’d be 10 miles there and back to my car! – but it took me roughly 3 minutes of walking to find a gorgeous spot on the bank of the river Taw (although I had to paddle a bit to get to it).
It was sat on this bank that I got really excited about living in Exeter for the first time. This spot would be 20 minutes from my house, I love rivers and wooded valleys, and if there’s one thing Devon does spectacularly (aside from moorland and lovely coastal areas) it’s wooded valleys and rivers.
The next day, after listening to the talk again and playing with the children’s exhibits…
I actually did this route with Pat, although not using this guide so didn’t have any of the interesting snippets of information, we’d just found a short circular route on the biggest OS map in the world.
We also didn’t realise we were on part of the Tarka Trail – the route taken by Tarka the Otter in the book of the same name, which although a classic has completely passed me by – it’s on my ‘to read’ list!
I did however find an old glass water bottle top possibly from a picnic someone had in the exact same spot 100+ years ago
It was a lovely relaxing day, beautiful scenery, local history and an enjoyable walk. There was a nice looking pub and a cafe in the village too – we didn’t get to try these but will definitely go back in the future – and I will of course update when we do!