View of Brayford
The Parish of Brayford is situated on the south-western boundary of
Exmoor and includes a part of the National Park.
Brayford is in a highly picturesque location, bounded by green fields and
woodlands, and situated in a steep sided valley, with the River Bray
running through the middle of the village and acting as a focal point for
young and old alike. The Bray rises on Exmoor, near Challacombe, and tumbles down to 470 feet
above sea level where it flows through the village, then joins the River
Mole south-west of South Molton, and finally the River Taw which
eventually sweeps through Barnstaple to the sea. The hills are populated with livestock as this is well known sheep and
cattle country. The famous red deer of Exmoor are commonly seen, and the
proverbial fox is a familiar sight. The streams are healthy and brown
trout and, in season, salmon are to be found.
The population of the Parish was 419 in 2000, and there are, at present,
300 on the Electoral Roll. There is a small but highly regarded primary
school in the village under the direction of the Headteacher and the dedicated staff. The nearest pub is the Poltimore Arms, a short drive east from the village
and renowned for its hospitality and excellent cuisine. If you need to
walk home itís all down hill (almost). The Parish retains a strong community spirit and it seems almost pointless
to run a Neighbourhood Watch scheme, as everybody naturally keeps a wide
eye open all the time. The true spirit is never more evident than when
real help is needed.
Barnstaple, North Devonís commercial and administrative centre can be
reached in 20 minutes.
Within about half an hour, the coastal resorts such as Lynton, Ilfracombe,
Saunton and Westward Ho! are accessible by car.
Brayford village is about 5 miles from the A361 North Devon Link Road, and
Tiverton Parkway Railway Station, by Junction 27 of the M5, can be reached
in 35-40 minutes. From there, trains to London Paddington take around 2
hours 20 minutes, and there are also services to Bristol, Birmingham, the
North and Scotland. Alternatively, for a more leisurely trip, go to
Barnstaple and take the scenic Tarka Line to Exeter.
There is a bus service (DevonBus 657) on Fridays only, from South Molton to
Barnstaple that runs via North Molton, High Bray (1005) and Brayford
(1015). The return journey leaves Barnstaple at 1405.
On Thursdays only, there is a service (DevonBus 873) from Brayford
(Barnstaple Cross) at 0850 running via West and East Buckland to South
Molton. The return journey leaves South Molton at 1150.
There is also a School service leaving Brayford at 0817 to South
Molton and returning at 1535, during College terms only.
The boundary of the Parish of Brayford extends southwards from Mockham
Down Gate on the A399, passing west of Mockham Down to Thornpark Cottages,
along a tributary of the River Bray past Parsonage Wood to Charles Bottom
and then to the River Bray itself. It then follows the River Bray
northwards to Newtown Bridge and then another tributary (Little Owl River)
Wood towards Holewater Cross, continuing through woods to Sherracombe Ford
and reaching the border with Somerset north of Five Barrows Hill. The
county boundary extends north-west from there to just north of Sloley
Stone, reaching one of the highest points in the Parish (474 metres; 1556
feet). The Parish boundary then runs west-south-west across Castle Common,
again reaching about 474 metres, through Shoulsbury Castle and down to Red
Gate and Leworthy Bridge. It then follows the Bray valley before turning
west of Stock Down and reaching the A399 just east of Mockham Down Gate.
Neighbouring Parishes (anticlockwise from Mockham Down Gate) are Stoke
Rivers, East and West Buckland, North Molton, Exmoor (Somerset),
Challacombe and Bratton Fleming.
Historically, the boundaries of the separate Parishes of Charles and High
Bray followed that of the present Brayford Parish, with the division being
almost exactly aligned with the River Bray. Thus Brayford village was
split between the two Parishes. At one time High Bray Parish also included
a small geographically separate area, covering Yard Down and West Yard
Parish Boundary Map
Brayford Location Map
The Tarka Trail is a 180 mile long-distance path forming a figure of eight
route centred on Barnstaple, crossing a part of Exmoor, traversing the
North Devon coast, following the Taw and Torridge valleys, and reaching
the northern fringe of Dartmoor. It has been described as one of the best
walking and cycling trails in Devon, if not England.
A section of the path is in Brayford Parish and approximately follows the
parish boundary from Charles Bottom, over Newtown Bridge and through
Barton Wood to Lower Hall Farm. From there it climbs Whitefield Down to
join the road to Sloley Stone and continues north out of the parish.
Exmoor National Park was established in 1954 and consists of a central
moorland plateau surrounded by rounded hills and a coastline of high
cliffs, rocky headlands and wooded ravines. It covers an area of 267
square miles of which 29% is in Devon. Approximately 38% of Brayford
Parish lies within the National Park, and the boundary is shown in yellow
Parish Boundary Map
The early hunter gatherers with their mobile way of life made little
impression on Exmoor but about 6000 years ago people began to settle and
farm, and the woodland clearance began, eventually leading to the moorland
landscape we know today. The Royal Forest of Exmoor was established in the
middle ages and large estates developed. Attempts to improve the moorland
soil and introduce more intensive farming continued until quite recently
but Exmoor prevailed. Today, as well as a major tourist attraction, Exmoor
is still a working landscape supporting the activities of its people, but
is protected against destructive exploitation.