The mysterious Venford waterfall has left hordes walkers and photographs scratching their heads over the years, not listed on any maps it seems almost impossible to find, but once you have stumbled onto the right path it’s impossible to miss, the thunderous groan as water crashes against moss covered stone. All you have to do is follow your senses.
I stumbled across the waterfall last year when a friend and I went down to the reservoir and I commented that there was meant to be a waterfall around here something. His reaction summed up everything I like about him as he slipped open his OS map and pointed “there!” “Where?” I peered in to look. “You’re the geographer you tell me” he laughed. Let me see. Ah-ha, eureka.
“So where is this waterfall?”
As we arrived at the dam déjà vu struck me, if nothing else at least I am good for something even if it is just showing people how to find this allusive waterfall. Following the road across the dam out onto the open moor I took a quick right and slipped down a private road laced with pine and rhododendron and coyly vaulted over a metal gate to join an established track that runs alongside Venford brook.
The trail hooked around Bench tor takes you through the White Woods until you reach Holne Woods (National Trust) or can be taken as a circular through West Stoke and Middle Stoke farmstead.
I find the scenery is dominated by the impressive Venford brook valley and an overwhelming desire to climb Sharp tor, peaked up like a witch’s hat, lingers.
The sound of a cuckoo in the distance to a backdrop of crashing water takes me back to Tavy Cleave for a moment as I jump down off the walkway following a sheep track down the valley and deeper into the bluebell wood. Doing my best to avoid trampling marsh violets I clambered over brittle rotten branches half buried by the moss and made my way down to a place where I knew it was safe to cross the brook.I find that the rocks there always look more slippery than they are but I am careful as I hop from one irregular stepping stone to the sorrel covered bank.
I am drawn to the sound of the waterfall getting louder when a black arrow darts along the middle of the river. I smile and wait to see it return but I am warned of its presence this time before it comes into view. Dippers alarm with a high-pitch shrill. it races past me up the river, there is no mistaking this bird.
I continue along my haphazard path and clamber down a slippery path to rest beside the waterfall. The swirling water looks so refreshing, I long to sit beneath the flume and feel icy cold droplet on my naked skin.