4 Stone Rows and a glorious day on Dartmoor

Lets start with a positives, the weather was glorious on this walk. I started out with a baselayer, a t shirt and a fleece and finished in just the baselayer as the temperature rose during the day. The sun was out, hardly any wind and I got a bit of a tan, it was great weather to be out. Then there is the history, you have stone rows coming out of your ears on this walk, 4 of them to be exact. Now when you think of the worlds biggest, or longest, or highest of something, I doubt that Dartmoor would spring to mind for many. But there is a stone row, Staldon, that is said to be the longest in the world. At a little over two miles in length, it starts at the stone circle behind Stalldown Barrow and runs north to finish at Green Hill. It crosses the River Erme and plenty of other streams along the way and is a magnificent example of man 5000 years ago.

That said the walking was as tough as I can remember on the outward leg, the area behind Stalldown Barrow is very tussocky, like walking on balls sticking up out of the ground. Bad for the ankles. Then there was the boggy ground, twice I went in knee deep, stepping on what looked like firm ground which turned out to be pretty much water. It is pretty pathless out the back and it wasn’t until I reached Quickbeam Hill on the return that I finally was able to pick up the pace. That said these 12 or so miles are as good as I’ve had on Dartmoor, its a fab place

Start – Harford parking
Route – Harford – Harford Church – Harford bridgeTristis Rocks – Burford Stone Row – Stalldown Stone Row – Stalldown BarrowHillson’s House – Staldon Stone Row – Stingers Hill – Drylake Ford– Black Rocks – Wollake Tor – Redlake Ford – Quickbeam Hill – Zeal Tramway – LeftlakeThree BarrowsSharp TorPiles HillButterdon Stone RowHobajons Cross – Harford parking
Distance –  12.5 miles    Start time – 10.15am     Time taken –  6hrs 30mins   Highest Point – Quickbeam Hill 467metres
Weather – Cloud to start, then sun, hardly any wind, glorious

© Crown copyright 2017 Ordnance Survey FL 2017 SF

Blue skies beyond Harford Gate

Tristis Rock can be seen on the hillside by the copse of trees over there. I’m heading there first. Between me and it is the River Erme, so I drop down to Harford and the bridge

Past Harford church

And across this bridge in Harford village

Once over the bridge you following a marked footpath along the Erme, through the trees and then steeply up to here, which is Tristis Rocks. The view is north along the Erme valley

Burford Stone Row is by Tristis Rock, its the first of 4 today and easily the least impressive. Stalldown Barrow is the bulk behind, my next target

Looking back down from the climb up Stalldown Barrow

Views to the sea and Plymouth Sound from here

Stalldown Stone Row, now this is one of the best rows on Dartmoor, the stones are at least 1.5 metres tall and in places they are higher

You get glimpses of the terrain behind Stalldown Barrow from here

The summit of Stalldown Barrow is marked by Hillson’s House

You can see the weir on the river Erme down below as I descend down the back of Stalldown. I was also looking at Leftlake from here (the bumps above the weir) and wishing I was over that way, at this point I probably had around 8 miles from where I am now to that point

Tussocky and rough. The terrain behind Stalldown

I love the sky in this photo as the river Erme wiggles between Stalldown right and Sharp Tor left

This stone circle is called The Dancers, after the 26 maidens that came to party and dance here on a Sunday. God struck them with lightning, turning them to stone on the spot. From here starts the longest stone row in the world

And on it runs, northwards to Green Hill which can’t yet be seen

Part way along is this cairn as I look back to Stalldown

Erme Pound is across the river showing how popular this place was 5000 years ago

As I climb Stingers Hill, Redlake comes into view

My bag marks the top of Stingers Hill, the dip in the distance is Erme pits, the tin mine from many years ago

Three Barrows is the lump, it looks a long way away from here

This is a short section of the Abbots Way, Erme Pits on the left

This is Philpotts cave on Black Rocks

There is some argument over where Black Rocks actually is. Some sites says it is those rocks over there on the bank. William Crossing the maestro on Dartmoor (memorial at Ducks Pool nearby) says it is on the eastern bank of the Wollake, which is these rocks right here

This is Drylake, I cross this and head for the hill to the left which is Quickbeam Hill


As I climb Quickbeam Hill I get another look at Redlake, I did think about going there today as well as Green Hill but the boggy ground between the two put me off

Redlake Tramway and Three Barrows to the right, my pace picked up along here

Lunch stop with a view to Plymouth Sound

These are the settling pits for the clay on Quickbeam Hill, as you walk the Zeal Tramway you will see evidence of the clay pipe that runs to Leftlake

Stalldown Barrow and part of the clay pipe in the foreground

Leftlake and Three Barrows behind

The tramway bridge at Leftlake

Just glorious now, that’s the Tramway down there as I climb up to Three Barrows

Three Barrows looking south

Heading down to Sharp Tor and some darker skies to the south

On Piles Hill looking back up to Sharp Tor left and Three Barrows centre

The start of the Butterdon Stone Row is at Piles Hill

Hobajons Cross is part of the stone row as well. This was my fourth and last stone row of the day

The Harford reservoir in the trees to my left as I walk to the car. The last time I was here was just 3 weeks ago, in a blizzard and about 25 degrees C colder!!!!


4 thoughts on “4 Stone Rows and a glorious day on Dartmoor

  1. Blimey, the skies changed a great deal during the course of your walk. That mackerel sky is amazing, very atmospheric. I’m afraid I’d never heard of Stone Rows before I read this post. Fascinating.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Dartmoor has some absolute cracking stone rows. There;s the Cosdon triple stone row up in the north, the ones at Drizzlecombe and my favourite the Down Tor stone row, plus these 4. I’ve been to 15 of them on Dartmoor so far and there are more out there!!

      Liked by 1 person

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