Danescombe Valley wood walk

Cotehele, St Dominick, near Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6TA

Route details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
The old sawmill in the Danescombe Valley was busy in the 19th century © Jane Kiely

The old sawmill in the Danescombe Valley was busy in the 19th century

Explore the South West countryside with our walks © ©NTPL/Ross Hoddinott

Explore the South West countryside with our walks

Get closer to nature by staying in one of these beautiful historic cottages © National Trust Holiday Cottages

Get closer to nature by staying in one of these beautiful historic cottages

Route overview

This circular walk goes through broadleaf woodland, and also takes you past a number of landscape and historical features of the Danescombe Valley.

  • Grade of walk: Trainer (all rounder)
  • Type of walk: 'Flora & Fauna', 'Historical Footstep'

Route details

See this step-by-step route marked on a map

Danescombe Valley wood walk, Cotehele, Cornwall
  • Directions
  • Route
  • Bus stop
  • Parking
  • Toilet
  • Viewpoint

Start: Cotehele House reception, grid ref: SX423686

  1. Facing reception, take the path to the right of the stone toilet block and pass through the picket gate. Staying on this main track walk with the house on your left and the Valley Garden on your right.

    Show/HideTimber in Danescombe Valley

    This sawmill was built in 1878 but was out of use by the turn of the century. It's on the western bank of the stream, about 245yds (225m) from the confluence with the River Tamar, making it the lowest of the water-powered sites in the Danescombe Valley. Water from a leat was piped to a turbine in a rock-cut pit, which powered the saws. In the south-east wall, there is a large doorway. Map evidence suggests a tramway from the quay entered the building at this point, an aperture to the west of the doorway may relate to its winding mechanism.

    The old sawmill in the Danescombe Valley was busy in the 19th century © Jane Kiely
  2. Continue along the track with a chestnut paling fence on your right, ignore the path coming up from the right that leads to Cotehele Quay. Continue a short distance and take the short, steep, rough path on your left, which will lead you to a more level path called Lady Walk.

    Show/HideThe mining boom

    Silver had been mined in the Tamar Valley since the 13th century, but the area's great mineral wealth wasn't exploited until the Napoleonic Wars, when copper began to be mined. There was a mining boom in the mid 19th century, first with copper and then with arsenic and other minerals. At its peak there were over 100 mines in the area, filling these valleys with miners and the river with shipping. By the early 20th century little remained and the mine buildings were demolished or collapsed. Nature has once again taken over the valleys.

    Explore the South West countryside with our walks © ©NTPL/Ross Hoddinott
  3. On reaching Lady Walk path, bear right and continue along the top of the Danescombe Valley. Continue until you meet a small path on your right with three wooden steps, coming up out of the valley. For a 1.5 mile walk, turn down this path. On reaching the main track, turn right and right again, signposted back to Cotehele.

    Show/HideThree holiday delights

    Tucked into this valley are three holiday cottages once connected with the Danescombe Valley or the Cotehele Consols Mines. Engine Cottage (National Trust) was built to house an engine used to pump water from the deep adits. Later the ground floor became a blacksmith's shop, with a miners' dry above. Danescombe Cottage (National Trust) was the mine count house or office and the mine manager's house. Danescombe Mine (Landmark Trust) once contained a rotary beam engine with a 40" cylinder driving an ore crusher, a pump and two buddles.

    Get closer to nature by staying in one of these beautiful historic cottages © National Trust Holiday Cottages
  4. To continue a longer walk, carry on Lady Walk high above the valley, through the gate to a field and then through another gate to the lane. Cross the lane and immediately turn left on a path to see the old paper mill. Retrace your steps back to the lane and cross the bridge in front of you. Turn right on the signposted footpath running along the bottom of the Danescombe Valley. Ignore all turnings until you reach the remains of what was once a very well-established sawmill on your right.

  5. Walk a short distance and at the fork in the road take the track on the right signed Cotehele House. This path is very steep, but as you climb, it will give you glimpses of the Tamar Valley to compensate. Eventually the path levels out and continues towards Cotehele.

  6. Keeping to the right follow the familiar path (with the chestnut paling fence and Valley Garden now on your left and eventually the house on your right) back to reception.

End: Cotehele House reception, grid ref: SX423686

In partnership with

Cotswold Outdoor logo © Cotswold Outdoor
  • Trail: Walking
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km)
  • Time: 2 hours
  • OS Map: Explorer 108
  • Terrain:

    This is a circular walk with a couple of steep sections dotted around. The paths are well established but some can get muddy after rain. Good walking shoes are recommended. Dogs are welcome but please keep an eye on them.

  • How to get here:

    By bike: NCN Route 27, 8 miles (12.8km). Hilly route from Tavistock to Cotehele

    By bus: The closest bus stop is in the village of Calstock. Take the Plymouth Citybus number 79 to Calstock Quay, then follow the directions by foot. Find the 79 bus schedule on 01752 662271 (08:00 - 16:30 Monday to Thursday 08:00 - 16:00 Fridays) or www.plymouthbus.co.uk.

    By train: Calstock Station, 1.5 miles (2.4km), follow signs to Cotehele

    By ferry: There's a ferry service running between the village of Calstock and Cotehele Quay. The Calstock Ferry is an independent operation licensed by Cornwall Council. 'Brogh' is ideal for carrying buggies, dogs and bicycles. SERVICE: April – October. For schedule and more information please contact: jkbell25@yahoo.co.uk telephone: 01822 833314 www.calstock-ferry.com

    By car: From Tavistock, take A390 (Gunnislake and Callington), follow brown signs from St Ann’s Chapel. Or, from Plymouth/Saltash, take Callington road (A388) and follow brown signs from roundabout after St Mellion

  • Facilities:

    • The Barn Restaurant
    • Edgcumbe tea-room on Cotehele Quay
    • The 'Shamrock' 1899 Tamar sailing barge
    • Cotehele House, gallery and shop
    • Toilets on both Cotehele Quay and behind the Barn Restaurant
    • Stay a little longer: we have nine holiday cottages available at Cotehele; to find out more visit our website or call 0844 335 1287


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