Mardon Down, Pin Tor and Cranbrook Castle

Somewhere slightly different today, still on Dartmoor, but right in the north eastern corner. This area is a fine place to walk if you don’t mind a bit of walking down lanes to get to places of interest or the odd hill and tor. I’ve parked here a couple of times now, firstly heading out southwards on a walk to take in Blackingstone, Heltor and Hingston Rocks as well as many other places. This walk heads north to Pin Tor and Uppacott Down via the lanes which have very few cars and are easy to walk along. That is, unless like me today, that the flies are out and follow you in the same way as a farm animal (about 18 inches behind your head. Bzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz). The only respite was on the hills, were the breeze kept them at bay. It was a pretty warm and humid day, but no sunshine, but then again no rain either. The only other downside was the bracken on Butterdon Hill, it has made this hill pretty much impassable and certainly no fun at all. The bracken was shoulder height most of the way and I disturbed at least one deer who was hiding in there. All the paths to the summit were submerged in the green blanket, horrible. Come back in a month or so when it has died away. Still the actual route is a good one and I will do this again, possibly adding on Fingle Bridge as well.

Start – Moretonhampstead parking
Route – Mardon Down – Mardon Down Stone Circle – Pin TorWillingstone RockUppacott DownCranbrook CastleButterdon Hill – Running Deer School – Mardon Down –  Moretonhamstead parking
Distance – 6.5 miles    Start time – 11.45am     Time taken –  3hrs 45mins  Highest Point – Mardon Down 356metres
Weather – Mainly cloudy but dry

© Crown copyright 2018 Ordnance Survey FL 2018 SF

The car is parked here and you get some great views towards Haytor from here

Butterdon Hill in the centre of photo and Pin Tor is to the right in that clump of trees you can see

A bit of zoom bring out Haytor on the left, then Rippon Tor with Honeybag and Chinkwell Tors on the far right

The top of Mardon Down is marked with this leaning stone. This is actually part of the Mardon Down Stone circle, the largest stone circle on Dartmoor

The flat hill above the stone in the distance is Hameldown

A smaller cairn circle to the north, also on Mardon Down, some views from this modest hill with north Devon laid out below

Turning left here as I walk the lanes to Pin Tor

I’d encountered many batches of flies, who seemed intent on following me like they do farm animals. I was glad to be here on Pin Tor where the breeze kept them away.

Mardon Down behind Pin Tor

I’d walked down from Pin Tor and along the lane and past Willingstone Rock, forgetting to take a photo. Last time I was here I was able to stand in this spot and get a decent photo, however this is summer and the hedges are growing so all I can see is the triangular top of it!!! Pin Tor is in that group of trees behind

Along more of the lovely Devon lanes brings me to Uppacott Down which is home to Cranbrook Castle (an ironage hillfort from 2000 or so years ago).

The covered building (white sheeting) is Castle Drogo, the last castle to be built in England and still undergoing renovation by the National Trust

The cloud looks to be dropping to the west, That is Meldon Hill over there and Chagford to the right

A battered gate as I walk the lanes to Butterdon Hill

I’d hacked my way to the top of the bracken infested Butterdon Hill and here I look back to Uppacott Down

lots of bracken and my route, Mardon Down is in the background

Lovely Devon lanes

I decided to head back over Mardon Down again rather than heading along the road to the car. Those with a keen eye will spot Blackingstone Rock in this shot. (left hand group of trees, half way along)

And bang centre of photo here is Heltor Rock, catching a bit of sunshine

Last one looking down to Moretonhampstead and plenty of green fields


5 thoughts on “Mardon Down, Pin Tor and Cranbrook Castle

  1. Bracken and it’s accompanying collection of flies is a real pain on these sort of mid height hills. We were out last weekend on a hot sultry afternoon and like you were very relieved to reach the summit where the wind blew them away. I guess that would be a much better walk in early spring, plenty of interest

    Liked by 1 person

  2. Nice read and after reading this I am glad I am leaving a revisit to Butterdon Hill for Winter! May I ask that last time I visited the summit of Pin Tor the gate was locked and I had to climb it. The only public access was the woodland section. Did you have this issue or is the summit open to the public again? Thanks.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Gate, SE corner of access land, not locked 29/03/21. Fine views from Pin Tor. Walked out from Moretonhampstead and then along to Cranbrook Castle and back via Butterdon Down. First day after lockdown! Great walk in warm spring sunshine.

    Liked by 1 person

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