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Down Tor Stone Row

This is an easy walk of 6 miles which at the start and end follows paths. There are some uphill climbs and a narrow river to ford. The walk is best attempted in the spring after a dry period but can be done at any time of year with some minor alterations to the route. 

Bush Leaves
The view toward Burrator & Sheepstor on ascent to Down Tor
view from down tor.jpg
Bronze Age Hut Circle north of Down Tor
hut circle north of down tor.jpg
Down Tor cairn circle & stone row
Down Tor row.jpg
Down Tor Stone Row

Also known as Hingston Hill Stone Row.  Likely built in the early Bronze Age and surviving in very good condition. 27 stones form a circle of 12 metres diameter around the remains of a kistvaen. The tallest stone measures 2.8m in height. The site was vandalized in around 1880 and the stones toppled, however they were re-erected in 1894 - almost certainly on their original positions as care was taken to set the stones into their socket holes. The stone row consists of 157 stones, although 174 stones were recorded in 1894.

The Walk

The route beings at Norsworthy Car Park at SX568 692. Take the rocky path immediately to the east which leads uphill, however divert left off this path at the earliest convenient spot, continuing uphill east toward Down Tor. There is a track which is easy to follow but provided an eastward heading toward Down Tor is maintained, it doesn't matter how it is reached. Behind are wonderful views of Burrator Reservoir flanked by Sheepstor and Leather Tor.

As the ground becomes rocky around the base of Down Tor, leave the track and head NNE, descending toward Newlycombe Lake where there are the remains of a dozen hut circles (only the larger ones are marked on the OS map) and a Bronze Age field system - however, if the walk is being attempted between mid-June and November the fern growth will obscure these remains, in which case it may be preferable to miss this step and continue over Down Tor. This area is also littered with medieval tinner's pits and a tinners gully.

Walk around to the Eastern side of Down Tor. The stone row and circle will soon come into view, to the south of which are the scars of tin mining in the form of deep gorges in the landscape. Head directly to the stone circle and follow the stone row NE past the enclosure and cairn at the end of the row. There are several parallel tracks which can be followed at this point, all of which generally head in the same direction. The grass here can be very long in the summer while the tracks can be very mucky after rainfall.

vague remains of enclosure above Newlycombe Lake
enclosure wall near brook.jpg
The Blowing House near Siward's Cross
Nun's Cross blowing house 7.jpg
Bush Leaves

After walking NE from the stone row for about 500m, there are the remains of two Bronze Age enclosures downhill to the north with 14 hut circles between the two enclosures. In wet weather it is better to bypass these as it involves a descent toward Newlycome Lake through terrain which is difficult after rainfall. Most of the hut circle remains are slight, but there are views of a few hut circles on the opposite bank of Newlycome Lake as well as plenty of evidence of tin workings. The eagle-eyed may also spot two medieval crosses.

Head east, following the track passing the striking remains of a blowing house and continue east to Siward's Cross. A path runs north to south past Nun's Cross Farm; follow this for just a short distance, picking up the track which diverts SSW off the main track. Keep on this track as it goes uphill to Eylesbarrow and the cairns atop the hill with nice views in each direction: weather conditions allowing.

Walk downhill heading SW toward the tin workings. There are several groupings of hut circles to be seen, but most of the remains are in poor repair. Much more interesting are the industrial remains. The gorge from tin working will prevent further movement SW, at this point there are several clear trails which head WNW or NW toward Combeshead Tor. The clitter is thick here but can be avoided by keeping south of it. There are hut circles among the litter and long grass, but they are very slight, although the enclosure walls remain obvious in many places.

The walk now descends into a gully. There are several spots to descend, however the gully may be boggy in many places at certain times of year. The easier places to cross tend to be directly south of Combeshead Tor near the kink in the stream. After crossing the brook, ascend a short distance until a track leading westward is picked up. There are several branching minor tracks here; it is best to keep to the main track which will continue westward and through a series of gates. The ground here can be boggy in places and may require minor diversions after periods of rainfall. The trail continues west through the remains of abandoned farm buildings and through the Middleworth plantation. The track improves as it approaches Middleworth farmstead which contains the foundations of several farm buildings as well as the two-story barn. Keeping to this track will lead back to the Norsworthy Bridge car park.

Eylesbarrow Tin mining

Tin mining in the immediate area dates back to at least the 13th century, however in the 19th century thinning returned to Eylesbarrow on an industrial scale. Aside from the huge gorges and exploratory pits scarring the landscape, there are the remains of numerous buildings and the wheelhouse of a 50ft waterwheel, smelting houses and some 25 shaft pits of up to 16m in diameter. Extraction went up to 36m below the surface and 276 tonnes of tin from Eylesbarrow were recorded at Tavistock between 1822 and 1831, however fluctuations in the price of tin led to a lack of investment and the equipment was auctioned off in 1852.

It can get foggy: Nun's cross farm on the right, the trail diverting from the N-S path on  left of image
nun's cross farm fog.jpg
cairn at Eylesbarrow
eylesbarrow cairn.jpg
Fording the stream below Combeshead Tor
brook crossing.jpg
Sliding gallery of other images from this walk
Abandoned Farms

At SX58561 68511 the walk takes us past Combeshead Farm, overgrown in she summer. The farm features a potato cave, similar to the one at Leathertor Farm. At SX579 687, near the end of the walk, we pass the remains of Deancombe Farm. Dating back to at least 1317, two farmsteads (East and West) were known to have existed here by the 16th century but the western farm was later absorbed by the eastern farm. The remains now consist of the shell of a farmhouse and several outbuildings, including the pillars for a grinding wheel. It was abandoned in 1922. Across the brook are the remains of Outholme Farm which was left derelict in 1849. Middleworth farm near the Nortsworthy car park was first recorded in 1291 and abandoned in 1919.

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