Stalldown Barrow, Erme Pound and The Dancers

The promise of some nice sunshine, warm weather, but not too warm. Perfect for walking and I figured a good time to head out along the River Erme. Parking at Harford Gate still appears to closed off and as it was Sunday I figured parking on the road at the church might be a bit cheeky. So I headed to Cornwood, this makes the walk in a bit further and as a result I don’t get up as far into Dartmoor. However its not a worry as the majority of the highlights in this area are south of Erme Pound, which is were I turned and headed back. The stone rows come thick and fast around here, Stalldown Barrow has a great one, the longest one in the world (Staldon stone row) starts at The Dancers (stone circle) and I only did part of it on this walk. Then there is one at Erme Pound itself plus another on Burford Down, which isn’t quite as good. The final part of this walk was along the lanes back to Cornwood, passing Hall Farm and one of my last three Dartmoor 365 squares. Just 2 to do now, The Walla Brook and William Donaghy, so another list is coming to a close, so I need to have a think about what else I can do around Dartmoor. The 365 is such a superb way to see all of the moor, it certainly deserves another go at it, simply to visit the places knowing I’m doing the Dartmoor 365. This first go I went to about half of the squares as part of ticking off my tors list or on other walks a while ago so maybe they all deserve another proper visit, plus it gives me some great winter walks along lanes. I still have the coastal path to keep chipping away at, and the Wainwrights when up in the Lakes. Alongside that I’ve got a bit behind on my website updates anyway, about 3 weeks (and 3 walks) as I type this. I’m off to the Lakes again in a week or so, which usually pushes me back as well!! The main reason for the slow updates has been some improvements to my site as a whole that I’ve been engrossed in. I’ve added maps to each of the Dartmoor Tors pages, alongside the bridges and buildings pages, marking each of the 500 tors on a google map or the buildings and bridges, so it makes things easier to find for us all. More of these maps to come on the parking pages, historic and probably one for the Dartmoor 365 page as well. I have to thank Melodie and her hiking part of her website for giving me the idea.

Start – Harford Parking

Route – Cornwood – Wisdome Bridge – Tor – New Waste – Stalldown Barrow – Stalldown Stone Row – The Dancers – Staldon Stone Row – Erme Pound – Erme Weir – Burford Stone Row – Tristis Rock – Hall Farm – Hall Cross – Wisdome Bridge – Cornwood

Distance – 12.5miles    Start time – 9.20am   Time taken – 7hrs  Highest Point – Stalldown Barrow 404m

Weather – Lots of sunshine, clouded over a bit in the middle of the walk, warm

© Crown copyright 2022 Ordnance Survey FL 2022 SF
Right so its fairly early and I’m parked up, booted and ready to go. The sun is shining and its fairly warm already, I slap on some suncream and head off along the road towards Cornwood
Just to Cornwood, not London!
Cornwood was fairly quiet at 9.30 on a Sunday morning so I was quickly along the lane to Wisdome Bridge
Heading slowly uphill along the lanes helps to gain some height easily, the butterflies were out in the sunshine, including this Comma
I’d meant to do a walk in this area to check out parking options after Harford Gate car park was closed in 2021 (can only hope this decision is reversed as it makes access to the area behind Stalldown difficult to access. This is the lane to New Waste and as you can see you’ll get one car (possibly two) where the red one is up there.\, about 500 metres from the New Waste gate
Looking across to Penn Beacon, as I head into the edge of Dartmoor proper the cloud builds a little overhead
Climbing up the side of Stalldown Barrow towards the first of my stone rows. Views to Plymouth Sound from up here
Stalldown Barrow Stone Row, lots of large upright stones on this one so its one of the better rows on the moor
The way I am heading, out the back of Stalldown Barrow is tough walking, lots of tufty grass and boggy in places. Those with a keen eye will see the dimple in the distance which is Redlake. Not going that far today
Now I’ve been this way twice now and both times I’ve handrailed the River at this point, (notice the tree, there are very few trees this side of the river), never ever do this, as a few metres after the tree is an area of wobbling ground sat on top of a bog. Like me you will go knee deep and have a wet sock for the rest of your day out. This was the first weekend in July, prior to the exceptionally hot batch of weather we had a week or so later
The boggy section on the previous photo is down there, you can just make out the tree/bush by the bend in the river. Don’t mess about down there instead stay on the bank to the right as I look back. That way as you head up head towards The Dancers, your feet will be dry and you will be able to look back at this lovely view along the Erme to Sharp Tor and Stalldown Barrow on the right.
Same view as previous but now with The Dancers, this is the start of the Staldon Stone Row, said to be the longest in the world, it runs for 2 miles finishing north of here at Green Hill
Lots of green, and one of the few paths here following the stone row north
A small skipper butterfly, a few of these out here today
Stalldown Barrow covering the back of the photo, River Erme on the left and the Staldon Stone Row heading that way. I’m going behind me at this point
I tried to cross the river at the point near where the stone row also crosses, there is a sort of ford there but with the high rainfall at the end of June the Erme was running a bit high. So I found about 10 large stones set out perfectly for me to traverse downstream of the ford area. A few minutes later I was stood here at Erme Pound. Now the ground in this area is horrid, the grass is thigh deep in large parts of it and you can’t see were to put your feet for large parts in this area.
Here looking upstream towards Stingers Hill, the Staldon Stone Row is on the other bank over the River Erme. My only real option was to walk the banks above the tall grass, I didn’t fancy ascending up to the Two Moors Way path above me, as I only need to walk back a mile downstream to cross the Erme again by the weir. So I stayed nearer the river and picked my way around the pound and its banks, following what sheep paths I could.
It was whilst trying to pick my way around the Pound that I stood on a pile of large rocks to try to see a way through the long grass. One particular rock rocked on me and as I put my other foot down to balance myself, my weight tipped the rock backwards, I fell backwards with the rock trapping my leg against another large rock. Lay flat on my back I was unable to sit up enough to push the rock away, luckily however I managed to get my left leg back to lever it away. I hobbled to this point, but I was lucky as there wasn’t anything worse than a cut below the knee and a sore leg (it bruised a day or two later).
The weir on the Erme or at least the pool before it. I crossed the river down on the right here as I wasn’t sure if the weir was crossable
The weir and it wasn’t crossable, not sure it ever is unless there is barely any water heading over it.
This is the good path used by the water board out to the weir, and makes a fine quick path to get you back around Stalldown Barrow. Leg still not great at this point, but I had passed my first people of this walk now
Piles Copse and Sharp Tor above. The camping in Piles Copse is currently out of bounds, hence the closure of the Harford Gate car park to help with this, however it seems that people coming here cannot read as a fire has damaged more of the area in that woodland caused by us. We are talking about an SSSI, one of 3 upland ancient oak woodlands on Dartmoor and the owners are trying to protect it, allow it to regenerate itself a bit before opening it again. Surely a few years camping somewhere else can be accommodated by people to allow this, or would it be better that we are never allowed in there again, utter clowns.
looking out along the Erme in the direction of Ivybridge, the hill on the right has Tristis Rock on top, I’m heading there next
On Burford Down now and the floor colour has changed from an ever present green to this yellowy grass which was swaying in the breeze alongside this purple headed thistles of which there were thousands sticking up like this
Tristis Rock looking back along the Erme Valley
And the other way out to Ivybridge
Burford Stone Row and Stalldown Barrow, I’d originally climbed left to right up that one earlier
Just down from Tristis Rock, following a grassy path is a gate at the corner of woodland, this takes you down a lovely path towards Harford village bridge and the road to Hall Cross.
The road to Hall Cross, tree tunnel!!
As I reached Hall Farm I spotted this Ringlet on the verge. My first ever one of these, which is weird considering how common they are
Sign at Hall Farm
Entrance to Hall Farm, my Dartmoor 365 square for the day, just 2 to do now
Red Admiral on some nettles
Penn Beacon in the distance as I walk the lanes back towards Wisdome Bridge and Cornwood
And a Small Tortoiseshell to finish this walk, to be honest there were Meadow Browns, Large and small Whites and Peacocks all along this section of the walk but I figured you’d prefer to see at least some of the views and not just the butterflies!! The end of a good walk which could have turned out a lot worse, I got a bit lucky with my leg and was still hobbling all the way back to the car, but I was glad it was just that and nothing else.

6 thoughts on “Stalldown Barrow, Erme Pound and The Dancers

  1. I think we all have little incidents from time to time. I certainly do as my balance isn’t always so good. Sounds like your incident could have been more serious with that leg getting trapped.

    Liked by 1 person

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