It would be easy to miss Lustleigh, a traditional thatched village nestling in a valley between Bovey Tracey and Moretonhampstead. But if you’re visiting Dartmoor it’s worth making the detour. Lustleigh makes a perfect day out with country walks and the possibility of a pub lunch or cream tea afterwards.
The village green boasts a Celtic stone cross and a number of thatched cottages, and is overlooked by the 13th century church. A short downhill walk brings you to the hamlet of Wreyland, with a further cluster of thatched roofs. Lustleigh is on the bus route between Newton Abbot and Moretonhampstead. Alternatively you can drive, but be aware that parking can be limited and you may need to park a little way from the village centre.
Not far from the green is the village’s community orchard. This is a former cider orchard that was gifted to the village in 1966. It includes a children’s playground and many fruiting trees: the orchard is seen to best advantage in spring when the trees are in blossom or in autumn as the fruit begins to ripen. If you are lucky you may also see sheep grazing beneath the trees. The upkeep of the orchard is paid for by the sale of apples and the mistletoe that grows in clumps upon the apple trees.
In the centre of the orchard is a large rock topped by a granite throne. This is used to crown the May Queen each year as part of the village’s May Day celebrations, which also include a carnival procession and maypole dancing. Names of all May Queens crowned in recent years are carved onto the side of the rock.
Lustleigh is surrounded by hills and woodland, and in particular by the steep sides of the Cleave (or cliff), which run down to the River Bovey on the valley floor. A maze of footpaths and tiny Devon lanes allows for many circular walks of varying lengths to suit walkers of all ages and abilities. Because of the nature of the countryside most walks include some steep climbing but easier walking can be found along the disused railway line towards Bovey Tracey.
If you climb high enough you will be treated to spectacular views across Dartmoor, or over Lustleigh itself. You may also come across Iron Age remains, including a ruined fort at Hunter’s Tor.