Three stone rows.
Updated: May 9
From Bennetts Cross to Fernworthy, White Ridge and back
“It is not so much for its beauty that the forest makes a claim upon men’s hearts, as for that subtle something, that quality of air that emanation from old trees, that so wonderfully changes and renews a weary spirit.”
― Robert Louis Stevenson
From the car parks by Bennetts cross on the B3212 you can see Fernworthy forest. Between the two lies a patch of idyllic wilderness known as Hurston Ridge.
For our adventure, on this occasion I planned our route based solely on wanting to get out to see Hurston Ridge stone row and Assycombe Stone row. One is nestled amongst the elephant grasses on Hurston ridge, which lies just North West of the Warren House Inn and the other in the fairy tale worthy forest surrounding Fernworthy reservoir.
It was a sunny April morning but the wind, though not too strong was blustering in from the Arctic, leaving our teeth chattering and forcing us to wrap up as though it were still January.
We crossed the road from the carpark and followed part of the Two Moors way towards the first of our double stone rows.
Once on the crest of the hill there are super views down over Chagford and the surrounding farms and across the valley to Grimspound and Hameldown Tor. There wasn't another soul to be seen and we enjoyed the peaceful atmosphere as we hiked the crest of the Ridge.
The double stone row SX673 825 may be one of the best surviving examples on Dartmoor having had only minimum restoration in the late 1800s. None of the stones were missing and only a few having to be re-located into their socket holes.
The Bronze Age monument consists of 2 lines of stones and is 143 metres in length.
We spent quite a while at the row despite the chilly air. I'm not sure I've had to wear gloves in
April before but they were a welcome relief and I was glad I'd thought to pop them in the backpack just in case.
From the rows we headed West toward Fernworthy.
It is at this point I should mention that the paths around the reservoir are a bit tricky to navigate. Once amongst the dense forest it is wise to have your map handy, in order to make your way through the trees to Assycombe stone row SX660 826.
One of the paths on the Southern end of the trees leads straight there and it may have been easier had we used this track.
Fernworthy is a beautiful, peaceful place and we were honoured with a sighting of a Red Deer on the path ahead of us as we meandered through the fairy tale setting. I half expected to find the house of Elrond.
Alongside the interesting points of archaeology, the reservoir and surrounding forest are a haven for wildlife and rare species, including the Marsh Fritillary butterfly. There are two bird hides at the
Western end near the water, where you may spot common sandpipers and great black-backed gulls.
The Assycombe stone rows are in a clearing nestled amongst the tall trees and descend 120m downhill. A number of the stones were restored in 1894 shortly after their discovery.
There is a hut circle in good condition within 10 feet of the stone row.
We walked down hill through the stones and after a bit of investigating and taking photos ended on the path I've suggested you may like to come in on. We followed this footpath out of the forest at its Southern end and decided to head over to yet another stone row marked on the map at SX654 816.
This area of the Moor is littered with antiquities and just North of here, between Sittadord Tor and Fernworthy lies one of my Favourites, The Grey Wethers Stone circles which I've written about in a separate post.
This third stone row was barely visible and took some finding amongst the grasses.
It was fairly unimpressive and by this point we were all getting very cold and hungry.
We had initially planned to get over to Stannon Tor but decided instead to make our return journey via the Cairn on Water Hill which sits just above King's Oven, where we planned to sit in an old tin gully out of the wind to eat our lunch.
Kings Oven refers to the remains of an ancient blowing house where tin was smelted.
From the Cairn we popped back down the hill to the B3212 and walked beside the road until back to the car.