Danescombe Valley wood walk
Cotehele, St Dominick, near Saltash, Cornwall, PL12 6TARoute details and mapDownload as a print friendly PDF
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'
- Bus stop
Start: Cotehele House reception, grid ref: SX423686
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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
- Trail: Walking
- Grade: Moderate
- Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km)
- Time: 2 hours
- OS Map: Explorer 108
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: from Tavistock to Callington (passing Gunnislake railway station) selected journeys to Cotehele Quay.
By train: Calstock Station, 1.5 miles (2.4km), follow signs to Cotehele
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
- The Barn Restaurant
- Edgcumbe tea-room
- Cotehele House, gallery and shop
- Toilets on both the Quay and behind the Barn Restaurant
- Stay a little longer: we have eight holiday cottages available at Cotehele; to find out more visit our website or call 0844 335 1287
- Contact us