Dartmoor: Bronze age Corndon Tor & Two Moors Way

Wild Dartmoor, August. 5 miles (8 kilometres) Full battering sun, 30°. With lovely child and silly dog. This walk was designed and plotted by lovely son, my personal Wainwright.

TL;DR Wild step back in time over the moor; Get cool in the river

Where some tors have their own car park and snack van, and there’s absolutely nothing wrong with that, you’re unlikely to see anyone off this beaten track. Corndon Down is a prehistoric landscape, a gentle climb back up to the special place where bronze age high status people were laid to rest under vast rock cairns.

Corndon Down

Corndon was likely once known as Cairn Down, and it’s a short hike past the Cave-Penney Memorial Cross, celebrating the life of a young lieutenant killed in Palestine in the First World War, up to the first bronze age burial cairn, perhaps itself a shadow memory of another young soldier. You can read more about the cross here at Legendary Dartmoor.

There are four cairns, three are unmistakeable, one at the tor has been destroyed but you’ll see the piles of rocks scattered at its foot.

You can also also see remains of the famous Dartmoor reaves, an ancient land management system, prehistoric stone boundaries which can be found all over the moor. Corndon has a splendid network of cross reaves. We stumbled on them as we tried to keep to the path. In summer the gorse is high, watch your footing, it can be easy to mislay the path across the moor, in winter you may need to keep a compass or GPS/OS app to hand. Be wary, you’re just a mile from Tavistock Inn where Arthur Conan-Doyle wrote The Hound of the Baskervilles. The devil has also stopped there, by all accounts, but I can’t tell you what story he wrote.

We came down out of the full sun onto the minor road which took us over the river and into a quiet green footpath by the little river Webburn. Nothing was going to stop us from getting in that river, nicey icy cold and refreshing. Shovell immediately leapt in: startled, eyes bulging, gasping from the cold, he clambered out and immediately got stranded on the far bank. And like the massive baby he is, we had to wade in and rescue him but we didn’t mind a bit in 30° heat.

After a troll bridge, under which are definitely trolls and trollops, we are now on the Two Moors Way following the river through high grass and ferns.

I save to brain the Two Moors Way which i’ve never heard of: Devon’s coast-to-coast walk, Dartmoor to Exmoor. It’s midgey and mothy down here but imagine the bats tonight! I’m half tempted to bring the detector later, but we have bats back at GZ.

Coming out of Ponsworthy into the sun is unforgiving. On the home stretch we get tired of the B-road and walk along under the shrub and then over the moor. It’s not cooler but Shovell didn’t care for the motorbikes. He really doesn’t like motorbikes, he’s more of a sheep and pony kind of dog. But not cows. If he ever meets a cow on a motorbike he’ll have an aneurysm.

More walks on Dartmoor

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Walk info

If you’re going to Dartmoor, or any moorland part of Britain, I strongly recommend The Moor by William Atkins, a beautiful portrait of this wilderness terrain. It’s available on Hive here or from good independent bookshops.

The GPX route is here. We started near Oldsbrim but you can park at Bel Tor or there’s a small hard standing on the Sherill/Babeny Road near the memorial cross.

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