This riverside walk from Calstock takes you along the River Tamar, and into the woodland to reach the Okel Tor mine. It was a very last minute and unplanned walk. I had just done this walk from Gunnislake, but had a long wait for the next train back to Plymouth, so I jumped on a bus to come wait out my time in Calstock with a viaduct view.
I sat down on a bench, and had a snack whilst looking up at the viaduct. When I finished eating, I still had a long wait, so decided to go have a wander along the river. I decided to track it and take photos, just in case it was worth writing about.
What was the riverside walk like from Calstock to the Okel Tor Mine?
It was so worth writing about. Sometimes I find these totally unplanned, on the fly walks are the best ones.
It’s an easy walk, first along a lovely ridgeway type trail next to the river. Then it’s into woodland to reach the ruins of the Okel Tor mine, which was also a sight to see. The woodland section is a bit more uneven under foot, with some tree root sections, and some steps to walk up. Then for the walk back along the riverside, you get that impressive view of the Calstock Viaduct ahead.
If you want, you can just walk the first riverside section without going to the woodland and mine. It’s lovely enough on its own. The Okel Tor Mine adds a little bit of adventure at the end, if that’s what you are after.
The Okel Tor Mine
I didn’t know I was heading to this until I was nearly there.
The Okel Tor Mine has changed about a bit. First it was used for lead, then copper, then tin, before settling on arsenic. The poisonous stuff. You only need to ingest about 1/4 teaspoon to die, but the miners handled the stuff with only a cloth to cover their mouths.
In its heyday, it employed nearly 200 people, including children as young as 9.
Source: The information board on site.
When you google Okel Tor Mine, everything that comes up is about a cottage you can stay in there.
Logistics for the riverside walk from Calstock to the Okel Tor mine
- Start/Finish: Calstock
- How to get there: Calstock is located in the Tamar Valley in Cornwall. It has a rail station on the Tamar Line, which is a branch of the Great Western Railway line. Journey time from Plymouth is 30min. The trains only run every 2hours or so.
- Distance: 2.7 miles there and back
- Time: Under an hour. For the riverside walk from Calstock, I went slow and chill, but when I decided to take the walk further and into the woods, I sped up. I didn’t know how long it would take me, and it would have been tragic if I had missed that train back to Plymouth.
- Terrain: Dirt, grass, mud, tree trunks, steps.
- Difficulty: Easy. There is a little hill into the woods, and at the Okel Tor Mine, but they are minor.
- Type: There and back
- Amenities: In Calstock you have some pubs, a coffee shop and ice cream place. Some viewpoint benches around the Okel Tor Mine.
- Time of year: I did this in spring
- Dog friendly: The first river section out of Calstock is. When you get nearer to the Okel Tor mine, there are warning signs of contaminated land and unstable structures, so your dog will want to be under close control. No Stiles.
Map for the riverside walk from Calstock to the Okel Tor Mine
More walk ideas (with links to guides) near Calstock and in the Tamar Valley will be at the end
A Guide To The Riverside Walk From Calstock To The Okel Tor Mine
Starting from the River Tamar, with the Calstock Viaduct to the right, you should see a little riverside trail leading along the grass on the left. Go onto that trail, and keep going, It’s as simple as that to begin with.
Walk along the Calstock Riverside trail
This trail takes you right alongside the river, with gorgeous bushy tree vibes on the other side. You will walk past a big area to you left, which the sign says has quick mud or quicksand. Probably quick mud.
You will walk past a cute riverside home on the other side, and you might feel a little jealous. Then you will walk over a wooden bridge. The trail curves around with the river, and then you will see a mine chimney thing ahead.
My initial plan was to just walk this section of the river, but when I saw that, I decided to keep going.
Walk to the Okel Tor Mine
You will walk through a gait at the end of the riverside section of the walk, with some arch ruins to the left. Continue straight up the road hill.
This will lead you into the woods, then at the trail split, take the right one to walk to the Okel Tor Mine.
There is a wooden gate along here, which is quite a stiff one to open. I needed to put a lot of force in with both hands to pull the metal lever. There is however a gap to the left which you can squeeze through. I discovered this on the way back.
This bit of woodland trail is easy walking, as it leads you to the mine area.
Walk around the Okel Tor Mine
When you reach the ruins, there is an information board if you want to learn some things. You will also have a great view from here, across the tree tops of the Tamar Valley, and to some more mine chimney things. One of them in the distance is a bit wonky. It reminded me of an elephants trunk.
From here you will be doing a loop. You can go either way. I took the right trail, but if you want to avoid walking up steps, you should take the left one. As I went right, I will describe the route from that perspective.
This is the bit of trail that becomes uneven under foot. You will walk downhill and under tree cover, and then have lots of tree roots. There is a well place bench down here, looking through an opening in the trees to the mine chimney.
The trail will lead you around in a loop, and as you loop around, there is a trail split coming up. I guess you could take either. I took the right one. This is the one that leads to the steps to go back up to the top.
Walk back to Calstock along the riverside trail
Once up the top, you simply walk back the way you came. When you reach the road, you have the option to turn right, which is a quicker way to walk back to Calstock. I don’t know what that route is like, but it’s a road, so that was enough for me to not take it. The riverside trail back is lovely though, so I was looking forward to getting on it again, and now seeing things from a different perspective. Including a view to the Calstock Viaduct at the end.
More walk ideas near Calstock in the Tamar Valley
Gunnislake to the Devon Consuls – This is a really lovely walk, first along river, and then through varying woodland. You will walk up a hill to reach the old mine ruins, and will have a fantastic view across the Tamar Valley. Fun fact: this walk is part in Cornwall, part in Devon.
Bere Alston circular walk – You will also get to see the Calstock Viaduct on the walk, and will even get to walk right under it. During the right time of year, this walk has an abundance of wild garlic.
Drakes Trail – This one is just outside the Tamar Valley, but nearby. You can get to the start of it on the number 79 bus from Calstock. It’s also really easy. You might spot some Dartmoor ponies.
For a more detailed side by side comparison, you can read about the Tamar Valley walks. If you would like to explore more of Dartmoor, then check out the best walks in Dartmoor National Park.
For more activities and walk ideas near Calstock, you can check out the Tamar Trails website.