Webburn Gap West
The Old Man of Webburn
Shortly after passing Town Wood Crags, the River Webburn dog legs right and heads south-west between two towering crags. It is a quite special and picturesque spot located by Paul Buck during his 2017 exploration of the area, and very surprising to learn that the Gap has failed to receive any sort of recognition before. Even William Crossing, in his book 'Gems in a Granite Setting', makes no reference to the scene despite the author likely having a good view of the valley when its tree cover was less claustrophobic, but instead he concentrated on the scene further upstream at Lizwell Meet where the West and East Webburn converge.
The photos here are of the same most dramatic cliff which is set on the west side and is perhaps the more striking of the two. Not only is it a more exposed mass of rock but unlike its neighbour it literally abuts to the river's right bank and dominates above as a vertical crag of dark-coloured rock. From a certain vantage point beside the river, part of the cliff presents a face that Paul dubbed as 'The Old Man of Webburn'. The east side cliff, found at Webburn Gap East, is covered in vegetation and situated on private land that is managed by Fountains Forestry from whom a permit is required to visit.
The scene in its entirety is impressive; you are standing beneath massive rocks alongside a lively river that roars through the gorge, its sound concealed to the densely wooded slopes that rise abruptly from the valley-floor. Webburn Gap West like many other crags in the vicinity stretches uphill away from the river, its appearance akin to a massive wall that is decorated in long grasses and ferns. Given the nature of the valley, far below the tops of the hills, it receives little sunlight allowing for moisture to take hold resulting in an almost tropical climate with different flora to that seen on high.
Great care and consideration should be taken when accessing Webburn Gap West, as there are steep drops, slippery slopes and loose ground that could make the trip a potentially dangerous one. Whilst the north-east side has a grand view of the crag, it is from the south-west side where access is slightly easier, but either route requires a tricky descent and it is strongly advised not to be attempted alone, and especially not after a prolonged period of rain. If the river levels are low enough you can walk beneath 'The Old Man' which provides an attractive view of the crag from the underside. Not visited by many this is a beautiful place that could be described as one of Dartmoor's hidden gems.