Eylesbarrow Tin Mine, Drizzlecombe Bronze Age ceremonial complex, a waterfall and a swim. 6 miles
Updated: Jun 23, 2020
I've not visited a great deal of the Moor in the Sheepstor area, something I intend to rectify. Whilst deciding where we should visit for fathers day this year, I happened upon a drawing of 'The Bone stone'.
Somewhere between the late Neolithic and early Bronze Age this Menhir was erected by our ancestors. It is 4.2 meters tall, weighs an estimated 6 tons and was somehow transported from Higher Hartor Tor which lies 1.25 km to the North East. It is the tallest standing stone on Dartmoor and would have been even taller in its day but was reset at a deeper depth in 1893.
I had to see it.
There is amazing archaeology all over Dartmoor, each place with its own fascinating history but the Neolithic and Bronze age sites interest me the most. Who were the people of Dartmoor thousands of years ago? Why did they erect stone circles, standing stones and stone rows and how? We can make educated guesses but no one really knows and this makes them even more enthralling.
We took to our trusty OS map and started to plan a route.
The more we looked, the more there was to see in the area and a little bit of research indicated that this would be a great family adventure.
We parked at The Scout hut car park SX 578 673 just East of Sheepstor village and walked up the path to Eylesbarrow Tin Mine. The 19th century mine opened in 1814 and continued until 1852. During this time several companies were formed to run the mine and most failed to make a profit. A large number of earthworks and structures relating to tin extraction and processing remain, including the first structure you come to which looks like a little house with a window. It is in fact, what is left of "Stamping mill number 2" where the mined ore was crushed and the "window" was the hole for its large axle.
From there we headed across to Higher Hartor and down to Drizzlecombe ceremonial complex SX 590 668 . This is where you'll find 'The Bone stone'. There are also other standing stones, stone rows and their associated cairns including Giants Basin which is huge at 22 m x 4 m.
I couldn't help placing my hands on the Menhirs and walking through the rows contemplating what they would have meant to the people of that time.
We were then supposed to cross the River Plym at the ford and walk up to Shavercombe waterfall but the water level was fairly high and the ford was waist deep in places. We headed back up stream and found some rocks we could cross on. This is always fun but I must warn caution if crossing this way. The rocks can be very slippery and sometimes it's safer to take off your boots, roll up your trousers and paddle across at a shallow point (as we discovered on our return). Shavercombe waterfall was worth the detour and looks like a fairy grotto. It's about half a mile up stream from the ford, keeping the brook on your left and following the track.
(found on the path to the falls)
We stopped for lunch here (remembering to take all our rubbish home with us of course)
it was picturesque and peaceful. Had the air temperature been warmer it would have been a lovely place for the children to play in the knee deep pool and sit under the cascading water.
After lunch we retraced our steps a little back towards the River Plym but headed uphill to see Shavercombe Tor and the Pillow Mounds (artificial warrens built to house rabbits, which were farmed for their fur and meat during the medieval and post-medieval period). Then down to the weir pool opposite Ditsworthy Warren house. This was when we needed to cross back over the river and decided it was easier to take off our boots and paddle across. There was much giggling as the water was cold and our eldest daughter had decided to wear tights which she kept on, later informing us that her socks were beneath her tights and that she would be having a squelchy walk from that point on.
The weir pool is also known as "The Warhorse pool" due to the houses recent use in the Spielberg film adaptation of Michael Morpurgos book. This pool is perfect for a swim and indeed three of the five of us stripped down to our swimwear and jumped in.
The golden water was clear and refreshing and the bottom of the pool was smoother than many similar places. It was bracing but the sun had made an appearance by the time we got out and the refreshing dip made for a very pleasant addition to our day.
Once we were all dried off we headed back towards our car Via the path that leads up to the Ditsworthy Warren House and decided to climb the small hill up to Gutter Tor on route. It was worth the climb as the view is very pretty and the Tor is another fun place to explore.
Once we'd finished pottering about on Gutter Tor we trundled down the hill and back to the car.
It was a lovely day out and we will definitely be visiting the area again as there are plenty more places to see marked on the map.