This walk starts near to Buttern Farm, in Gidleigh parish, not to far from Throwleigh.
Park just off the track leading to Buttern Farm at SX658895. Then head up the track between the farm and the enclosures out onto the open moor. Keeping the enclosures to your right follow the wall uphill until you reach the small tor on top of Buttern Hill.
|Buttern Stone Circle|
Buttern Circle is about a quarter of a mile SW at SX649884 in the valley bottom before you. It's not always easy to make out, but follow the long reave down towards Rival Tor and start to look out for the small stones sticking out of the long grass. One stone in particular (pictured below) is quite distinctive.
Once at the circle, you realise that it is in fact quite sizeable and that in it's day would have been an impressive circle. I counted 23 stones on the 7th July 2003 but only 19 on 4th January 2004. This could have been due to the long grass though. There are some large stones amongst the fallen, the largest being around 6ft. Nowdays only 5 small stones remain upright and the circle is almost forgotten, hidden in the golden grass.
|Male Adder near Gallaven Mire|
Jeremy Butler gives the diameter of the circle as 24.8 metres and that the original number of stones could have been as many as 40.
|Gidleigh/Throwleigh Bound stone perhaps taken from Buttern Circle|
It is situated by the confluence of the North Teign and the Walla Brook. Both of these two streams have wonderful old clapper bridges over them.The Teign bridge was originally washed away in floods in 1826 but restored to its former glory in 1999. The Walla Brook Clapper is a single granite slab. A smaller slab bridge crosses the teign just yards downstream.
|Restored Clapper Bridge over the Teign|
Panoramic views are to be had of the High Moors with Kes Tor, Fernworthy and Sittaford Tor to the South West.To the west the distant Granite blocks of Watern Tor, like giants standing sentinel, silently watching over the moors. Then comes Wild Tor, Hound Tor and Cosdon Beacon to the North West.
To the East is the track leading over Scorhill Hill, to the small car park at Scorhill Gate, from which is the quickest and easiest route and a good starting point for many a walk. This easy access making Scorhill the most visited and well known circle on the moor.
Two old tracks cut through the middle causing deep scars. One can only imagine that a number of the original stones have been robbed by local stone cutters over the years.
Jeremy Butler guesses the original number of stones to have been around 60
He also mentions a small double stone row close by, but almost impossible to find, hidden in the long grass and turf.
|The Tolmen Stone|
This is a large megalithic complex, stretching over Shovel Down, consisting of a stone circle, at least 6 stone rows, 5 of which are double rows, one of the double rows ending at two large fallen stones (one marked with the GP of Gidleigh parish) before a fourfold cairn circle. There are gaps and missing stones throughout the rows, some no doubt robbed to make the nearby enclosure walls, others simply buried beneath the turf.
Shovel Down Stone Circle is another hard one to find, with only 3 stones left standing and at least 4 fallen, hidden in the long grass.The diameter is 17.7m, it is situated on sloping ground about midway between Scorhill Circle, about a mile to the North and Fernworthy Circle, a little over a mile to the South. There is a distinctive gorse bush,which I always used to locate it, which of course isn't much help to anyone else !!
|The distinctive gorse bush........|
|Two of the Three remaining uprights of Shovel Down Stone Circle|
|Shovel Down Rows looking towards Batworthy Corner|
|The Fourfold Cairn Circle|
Have a quick look up on Kestor for two rock basins, which have been formed by natural weathering and the repeated freeze/thaw action of water accumalating in a small hollow in the granite.
If you have time, have a look over in the enclosed fields just to the NE of Kestor, where a local farmer has erected his own stone circle.
|The Newest Dartmoor Circle|
Once across it's a short but steep climb up the other side and out onto the road near Gidleigh village. Here turn left and follow this quiet country lane, past the hamlet of Berrydown to Scorhill Gate ( you can alternatively turn right on the lane at Berrydown and follow it back to the car at Buttern).
If you have opted to go via Scorhill Gate, you will find yourself back out on the moor. Follow the drift path up and then follow the enclosure walls to your right over Gidleigh Common.
|Chambered Cairn on Gidleigh Common|
From here, just follow the countour of the hill back to the Buttern enclosures, keeping just above the boggier area to your right, then retrace your earlier steps down past the farm to your car.