The 13th Century church of St Peter ad Vincula Ashwater has Saxon origins although the parish contains several early Bronze Age Tumuli. The Domesday entries (1087) confirm Alwyn and Bror held Aissa (Ashwater) and Hindefort (Henford) at the time of the Norman Conquest. Geoffrey Mowbray, Bishop of Coutances, in Normandy was given the Manor by William the Conqueror.
Walter of Dunheved became owner in 1270 and probably changed the name from Esse or Aissa to distinguish it from similarly named manors. Although in 1302 it was spoken of as the Manor of Esse Fitzwalter.
Many farms and cottages within the parish were small outlying holdings long before the Normans arrived.
The Church and Bell-Tower Cottage

Ashwater Facts

The Village Inn is not as old as it may seem having been built after the previous pub burned down in 1989.

Ashwater Railway Station was beside the River Carey at Ash Mill.
The rail link to Launceston opened on July 18th 1886
and closed in October 1966 following the 'Beeching Cuts'.
Hampden House Academy a boarding school in 1878 was the subject of a court case at Holsworthy County Court when the father of an articled pupil sought and at first won damages from the proprietors for negligence in looking after his daughter. The next month however, she was charged with perjury. After much conflicting evidence both cases were dismissed but the school closed shortly afterwards.
Tucked in next to this building today is the old Post Office and Shop.

The Former Ashwater Village Post Office, which is now a private residence.

The premises closed in 2009, but a new community shop was opened in 2010  adjacent to the new Parish Hall.

The present Village Primary School was built
to replace the schoolroom in the Methodist Chapel.
On October 19th 1895 it briefly closed due to
an epidemic of scarlet fever.
Ashwater Primary School
Walk Number 1

Ordinance Survey Explorer Map 112
A circular walk beginning and ending at the Village Inn; taking in the quiet hamlet of Quoditch and crossing the River Carey.
(Distance: 6 miles - allow 3 hours)

NB: Wear stout shoes or boots, as parts of the route can be waterlogged and muddy. Keep all dogs on a lead as the fields contain stock. This walk is not suitable for wheelchair users.

Start with your back to the Village Inn and walk over the green towards the church. The lane and church wall bear to the right, but follow the sign posted footpath on the left through the metal gate. Admire the slate lined hedge/banks containing wild violets under the fine Beech Trees.

At the bottom of the hill pass through the metal kissing gate. Go straight along the track then turn right onto the lane. Walk to the cross roads and go towards Quoditch. (Signposted - 1¼ miles).

After passing the Methodist Chapel on your left look back to enjoy a view of Ashwater Church or visit the small well tended graveyard. The banks contain Bluebells in spring and Marsh bedstraw in summer.

Stay on the lane passing Woodpark Cottage on your right as the route continues to wind between the fields, watching for Skylarks and then down a wooded hill to the stone bridge across Drury Water.

Pause here as a Dipper sometimes feeds amongst the shallows before you climb steadily up the other side passing Drury Cottage and Farm to enter the hamlet of Quoditch. The cottage was once the Police House.

Keep on the lane until reaching South Quoditch Farm and then turn right at the 'Footpath Sign' into the farm yard and head in a straight line for the small exit gate beyond, to join the way marked path.

Keeping between the hedges carry straight on to the open fields ahead. These slope steeply down towards the river (as yet unseen) and by starting to descend in a straight line, aim for the wooden style that stands alone on the terraced hillside. Continue descending to the next style and enter the woodland that abounds the river from where you will see a large wooden bridge over the River Carey. Listen here for the Woodpeckers, Jays and Nuthatches.

Cross the bridge and walk straight ahead towards the gate on the far side of the field. This section of culm grassland can be very boggy, but contains fine orchids and other plants plus butterfly species and damselflies.

Once through the gate cross what used to be the old railway line and head straight up hill keeping the hedge on your left. At the top of the field there are three gates to negotiate, please ensure you close them afterwards.

The track follows the course of a small stream, which runs down its centre. After the third gate join the concrete path and bear left to skirt the buildings of Lower Beckett Farm, immediately after which turn right and follow the cement lane up hill passing High Beckett Farmhouse on the left before meeting a lane. Here turn right and proceed down hill with distant views of Ashwater to the front.

The hedges and verges of this lane contain an abundance of summer wild flowers. Proceed to follow the lane as it winds and descends into some pretty woodland and across a small stream. Watch for the Peacocks at Thorne.

The lane then gradually gets closer to the river, which at one point can be seen across the water meadows where there is a weir and a fish ladder. Watch for the almost resident heron fishing nearby. Note how the old woodland clings to the valley side on the far bank.

Remnants of the railway bridges are also visible as it was here the track once crossed first the river and then the lane before arriving at Ashwater Station.

The river is now close to the lane and you may be lucky enough to see a kingfisher as you continue towards the road junction at Ash Mill. The derelict building on the left is an old shop and there is still a Victorian Post Box set in the wall.

The stone building over the road is the old station house, now a private dwelling and across the way are the coal yards, which are still used.

Turn right and cross over the river bridge then at the junction immediately bear left to begin the ascent towards Ashwater Village.

The steep roadside banks harbour slow worms and a variety of wild shade loving plants. The house halfway up on the right is the Rectory.

At the hilltop retrace your steps past the church, the green and the 'listed' red telephone box for refreshment at the Village Inn or simply take a rest on the benches by the War Memorial.
____________________________________________________________________________________Walk Details Produced by Ivan Buxton________
The Village Green (Before Ashview was built)
Ashwater is set on a hill and is one of the last remaining settlements in Devon to have a public house looking directly across the village green.

According to the Domesday Book (1086/7) included in the population there were 40 Villagers and 6 Slaves. The Census of 2001 recorded 651 residents of the parish (none officially declared as slaves).

The benefits of electricity were brought to the village on 22nd March 1958 at a cost of £20,000 when 38 houses and the village hall were connected. The hamlet of Henford was not supplied until 1964.

Originally two cattle fairs were held in Ashwater on the 1st Tuesday in May and 1st Monday in August. There is now an annual well attended Agricultural Show (the 60th held in 2011) and the 80th Horticultural Show will be held in 2012
Ashwater Facts
The land area of Ashwater Parish (the fifth largest in Torridge) comprises 8601 Acres or 3481 Hectares, which is 34.81 square kilometres or 13.44 square miles.

Ashwater Church is dedicated to St Peter. The full title, "St. Peter ad Vincula" means St Peter in chains and shares the unusual title with the Prison Chapel in the Tower of London.
Inside the church is a tomb thought to be that of Thomas Carminow who died in 1442, the effigies are believed to be of him and his wife.
On the south wall is a large Royal Coat of Arms in plaster and bearing the incription "C.R. 1638".

Just off the village green note the Red Telephone Box, which is a 'listed' building.

A mysterious explosion in September 2006 destroyed a Victorian Post Box at Quoditch (a hamlet within Ashwater Parish).

Rain keeps the parish green and according to The Rev. Preb. Melhuish (Rector of Ashwater 1897-1935) the annual average for 1923 - 1932 was 49.06 inches.

The current bridge at Ashmill was built in the early part of the 19th Century. Before this stone structure a wooden bridge and ford existed further south.

In 2005, according to BBC Gardeners World the largest pumpkin in the country was grown in Ashwater and weighed in at 97lbs.


Walk Number 2

Ordinance Survey Explorer Map 112

This is a circular walk that begins and ends at the Village Inn, crossing farmland and featuring the small hamlet of Henford. (Distance: 3 miles - allow 1½ hours)

NB. Wear stout shoes or boots, as parts of the route maybe muddy. Keep dogs on a lead asthe fields contain stock. This walk is not suitable for wheel chair users.

The route offers a fine opportunity to appreciate the wild flowers so typical of the area. Look for Aconites, Snowdrops and Hazel Catkins at the turn of the year.

Primroses, Bluebells, Red Campion, Buttercups, Violets, Stitchwort, Cow Parsley, Pignut, Fox Gloves and Eyebright appear in spring.

Summer blooms include Honeysuckle, Dog and Field Roses, Hawksbeard, Scabious, Willowherbs and a host of Meadowsweet, Sorrel and Bramble.

Autumn brings forth the harvest of Blackberries, Elder, Sloes and Hawthorn with various types of Fungi in the fields and woodland.

There are many bird species throughout the year ranging from the ever-present Buzzards to the less common Spotted Flycatchers that visit between May and August with summer migrants such as the Chiff Chaff and Willow Warbler.

Start with your back to the Village Inn swivel left then take the road to the left leading out of the village and signposted to Launceston.

Proceed past all the houses and the last dwelling on the right called 'Fools Paradise'. Ahead in the far distance are glimpses of Bodmin Moor.

Keeping to the road and just beyond the entrance to Adjistment Farm look for the footpath sign and then turn right through the gate into the field.

With the field boundary on your right pass through a double gate continue ahead to the style then proceed diagonally left down the slope towards the bottom right hand corner of the field.

Look for the entrance style and enter the wooded area prolific in Spring, with bluebells and violets, follow the path and cross the small footbridge and another style into the marsh and reed bed.

In spring and summer this area is abundant with butterflies, dragonflies and broad bodied chasers.

Butterflies include the Brimstone, Orange Tip, Red Admiral, Holly Blue, Common Blue, Peacock, Painted Lady, Large White, Green Veined White, Small Tortoiseshell, Meadow Brown and Gatekeeper amongst others.

Watch also for Roe Deer in this secluded spot then go straight ahead keeping left and cross the style into the field.

Proceed up the slope with the boundary on your right to the gate into a small lane. Continue ahead to a metal gate then immediately right following the lane shortly passing through another gate.

Look for the waymark sign to the left on the outbuilding wall. (Ignore the option to go right through Larkworthy Farm and eventually out to the main Holsworthy to Launceston road).

At the next gate bear right and keep to the field edge then through another gate with the hedge on your left. Immediately after the next gate turn right then left and go down the hill looking for the yellow-topped waymark post at the bottom.

Go over the stream by footbridge and cross the style. Continue through a gate and a further style and follow the path negotiating two more gates.

The final gate onto the lane at Henford bears the following memorial inscription, "Pa's Orchard. Daniel F Rowe 1920 1996".

Turn left and follow the lane down hill shaded by trees and across the stone bridge over Henford Water.

Begin the long ascent up Kit Hill passing the Rookery on your left. The verges along this section of the lane are festooned with the white blooms of Cow Parsley during May and June.

Pause during this steady climb to look back at the fine view of the steep slopes on the left that hide the River Carey from view before returning to the village of Ashwater for refreshment at the Village Inn or visit the PO/Shop adjacent to the Parish Hall.