The largest hill on north-east Dartmoor is now named ‘Cosdon’ on modern Ordnance Survey maps. It was called ‘Cawsand Beacon’ on the one inch to the mile maps when I was a boy. A recently discovered copy of the 1240 Forest of Dartmoor perambulation return was bound into a cartulary in 1335. It names the first mete in the north of Dartmoor as ‘hogam de (or ridge of) Costdonne’. The surveyors working for the Ordnance Survey in the early 19thC and even earlier cartographers were convinced that the perambulator’s ‘Costdonne’ was today’s Cosdon. I am not so convinced. I think the Belstone Ridge was the perambulator’s ‘Costdonne’. I consider this to be the case for four reasons:
- The Belstone ridge is the only major feature in the whole fifty-mile boundary that was not mentioned.
- The next mete was named as ‘hogam que vocatur pud houndetorre’ – namely the Hound Tor ridge. I consider that the perambulators named this mete whilst still standing on Belstone Ridge or by the Taw.
- As you will discover during this walk, Cosdon is not particularly friendly ground for a mounted rider, certainly not on the line the perambulators supposedly took up from the horseshoe ford over the Taw.
- The convex shape of the hill makes defining your location, and thus whether you are in the Forest or without it, very hard to determine at times. This would have made the policing role of the quarterman next to impossible. A much easier boundary line is the ride from the horseshoe ford directly to the Whitemore Circle.
I would be pleased to read any views you might have on which route the perambulators might have chosen to follow bearing in mind that the boundary would subsequently have to be policed.
The hill rises above South Zeal and is easily accessed from several directions. I recommend you start this trail from Belstone Village using the footbridge to cross the river Taw. The trail takes you around the hill at increasing heights and en-route you will encounter prehistoric and medieval artefacts. Binoculars will afford views for miles if the weather is favourable.
All of the caches are camouflaged 35mm film canisters except the last two atop Cosdon itself – they are small. NO PENS OR PENCILS ARE PROVIDED.
There are four puzzle caches within the first thirty caches. Each of the first 6 caches contains a clue written under the lid to enable you to find the seventh. Clues are repeated throughout so do not fret if you cannot find one or two caches. Caches 7 to 12 contain clues to enable you to find the thirteenth; caches 13 to 18 clues for the nineteenth; caches 19 to 24 clues to find cache number 25. The last two caches, 31 and 32, need clues from many of the earlier caches.
Cosdon is a fairly remote spot on Dartmoor and at its furthest point this trail is some 3 km from the nearest road. The weather on Dartmoor can change suddenly and unexpectedly and ALL types of weather conditions can be experienced. Please ensure that you have the correct clothing and map and compass (and know how to use them). Please do NOT rely solely on your GPS. Do not attempt to cross the area shown on maps as Raybarrow Pool.
Cache placed with the kind permission of the Dartmoor National Park Authority and in accordance with their geocaching guideline.