TORS OF DARTMOOR

a database of both lesser & well-known rocks and outcrops
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Combestone Tor

Comberstone Tor, Cumston Tor, Combeston Tor, Cumsdon Tor, Combstone Tor, Combstone Rock

This stunning tor, with long views of the River Dart, is also one of the most accessible on Dartmoor, having its own car park just a few metres away. The summit rocks present as an avenue with at least three distinct outcrops that stud the gentle spur of Cumston Tor Hill, on the far north-west flank of Holne Moor. The local pronunciation of the tor, hill and nearby farm is 'Cumston' but many modern visitors, based on the spelling shown on Ordnance Survey (OS) maps as 'Combe', often use the phonetic interpretation of 'Coombestone'.

Rock basins can be found on many of the rocks here and Eric Hemery (1983) advises that "large ones occur on the summit, some still forming and others in decay with broken edges." Two of the basins are particularly interesting as they have formed on what are now fallen slabs tilted at an angle. Tim Jenkinson and Max Piper rekindled the fascination of rock basins in their Dartmoor Magazine article from 2020 and give dimensions for these two examples; "one on the east side of the main pile measuring 57cm in length by 53cm width with an approximate depth of 10cm, and another smaller one amid the main rocks reaching 37cm in length by 35cm width and 11.5cm deep." Both Hayward (1991) and Thurlow (1993) were drawn to the western example, the former noting "a basin now in its vertical face."

For those that are interested Combestone Tor is also the site of an OS benchmark that is cut into the south face of the tor, that was used to register a recorded height of 1156.6 feet above mean sea level. There is also evidence of some rock splitting here with boulders being plundered for building purposes. Below the tor's modest clitter are two leat channels that contour the hillside: the first is the Wheal Emma Leat, now dry, and a short way below is Hamlyn's Leat (or Holne Moor Leat) which still flows. The leats here were constructed to supply water to a copper mine in Brook Wood and a woollen mill in Buckfastleigh respectively. To the north-east of the tor there is an unfinished millstone at SX 67122 71932, that is rather crudely cut.

It is the views from Combestone Tor that, above all else, set it apart. They are simply breathtaking. Embracing the valley of the River Dart as it pursues its rapid course south-westward, the valley sides steepen and what lies above each bank are densely blanketed wooded hillsides that are dominated by the interlocking spurs of Yar, Sharp and Mel Tors to the north. However, the observant visitor may even be able to make out the crags of Little Vag Tor and Vag Hill Tor that are set just above the treeline. The view down the gorge remains one of the most memorable sights on Dartmoor and it is notably special in autumn when the bracken is turning into shades of orange and red. Given its ease of access Combestone Tor often features in stories and programmes about Dartmoor on television. It is fairly safe to say that if you see any granite outcrops from Dartmoor on film or TV, they are usually from either Haytor or Combestone.

Combestone Tor
The map above is not a navigation tool and we recommend that the grid reference shown below is used in conjunction with an Ordnance Survey map and that training in its use with a compass is advised.
Grid Ref:
SX 6700 7180
Height:
356m
Parish:
Holne
Tor Classification:
Spur
Access:
Public
Rock Type:
Granite
Credit:
Ordnance Survey
Reference:
Ordnance Survey Maps
William Crossing (1912): Guide to Dartmoor
Eric Hemery (1983): High Dartmoor
John Hayward (1991): Dartmoor 365
George Thurlow (1993): Thurlow's Dartmoor Companion
Max Piper and Tim Jenkinson (2020): Dartmoor Magazine Issue 140 Winter: 'Lesser-known' Rock Basins

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