Danescombe Valley Walk
This walk starts at Cotehele Quay and leads you through the fantastic Danescombe Valley to take in buildings from the rich mining history of this world heritage site.
Before you start:
Bring your walking boots for this trail. There are moderate to steep climbs in a couple of places, with some uneven areas underfoot.
Cotehele Quay car park
Start your walk at the Cotehele Quay car park. Take the path above the car park which leads into the woods. Continue along this trail keeping the fields on your right and the woodland on your left.
Creating an intertidal habitat at Cotehele Quay
The field below this path is soon to be a wonderful intertidal habitat, where the rangers are looking forward to seeing increased visit by waders and other wildlife returning to this part of the valley.
Continue along this path. You will walk past the Chapel-in-the-Wood on your right, and below the Valley Garden until you pass the viewpoint which looks over toward Calstock viaduct.
Follow the path up the steep slope from the viewpoint until you reach a junction. Turn right and take the route down the hill towards Calstock.
At the bottom of the hill you will reach another junction. Turn left here and continue along the road, where you walk past the ruins of Danescombe sawmill. Keep going until you reach a group of cottages.
The Danescombe Sawmill was built in 1878, and at the time was one of the most advanced water powered sawmills in the west of England, using cutting-edge technology including an American turbine wheel, racks, saw benches and band saws to produce 2000 feet of timber an hour. The turbine also powered haulage of timber up from Danescombe Quay. Disused since at least 1905, the preserved sawmill ruin now provides shelter for wildlife and a glimpse into the industrial past of the valley.
At the cottages, cross over the bridge and continue along the track ahead of you, keeping the stream on your left all the way through the woodland until you reach a road.
Among these cottages is Engine Cottage, one of eight holiday cottages on the Cotehele estate. The valley here is speckled with mineshafts and chimneys from the time of mining copper and arsenic in the 1800's. The rich history, and mossy, rainforest feel of the valley are just some of the reasons why this is Lead Ranger George's favourite area of woodland on the Cotehele estate.
From this point you can continue to follow the route or take a detour to visit the Danescombe papermill ruin. To continue to follow the route, turn left when you reach the road and then almost immediately take the next left turning back onto a track and through the gate.
To visit the ruin, walk down the road and take the track on the right which then forks. Take the track on the immediate right of Danescombe cottage. Keep the stream on your right and follow the track a short distance to the ruin. You will need to return to the road to continue the route back to Cotehele.
Danescombe paper mill
Now an atmospheric preserved ruin hidden in the Danescombe Valley, this papermill was operational between 1788 and 1857. The mill was powered by a waterwheel, fed from above by a leat, and made coarse brown paper, paste and millboard, use to protect soft fruits during transportation. It was described as having one large vat and fixed machinery constructed on the best principles. The ranger team love working here in the heart of the Tamar Valley's mining heritage.
Follow the track across the field and re-enter the woodland through a gate at the far end. It can be muddy underfoot here. Continue along the route, looking out for chimneys visible through the treeline. Stay on the main path here, ignoring any off shooting tracks.
Halfway along this track, there is a fantastic viewpoint which overlooks the river Tamar and the Danescombe hotel. In the summer, keep an eye out for butterflies among the wildflowers which line this track.
Walk down the short, steep slope and you will find yourself back on the path you walked up from the quay. Turn right and follow the path along the edge of the Valley Garden until you reach a courtyard.
To finish the route, walk through the courtyard in front of Cotehele Visitor Reception, and follow the driveway straight down the steep hill ad through the white gate at the bottom. Turn left and walk past the Edgcumbe tea-room to return to Cotehele Quay car park.
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