The Cornwood Maidens is a stone row located on Stalldown Hill on the edge of Dartmmor. It consists of over 80 stones, 62 of which remain standing, 17 of which are fallen, with the remainder being buried or missing. The tallest stones are at the northerly end, and rise as high as 2.6 metres.
The row runs in a north/south direction, rising up the southern slope of the hill, with the northern end passing over the crest and meandering for a short distance down the northern slope.
The stone row was subject to restoration work in the late 19th Century, so it's debatable how much of the alignment is in its original position. This is particularly subject to speculation, since the alignment in its present form doesn't follow a straight route.
The Cornwood Maidens contains the tallest stones of any row on Dartmoor. Some of these megaliths are spectacularly impressive up close, positively oozing character. It's quite a surprise to see them hove into view when ascending the hill. Their scale is an unexpected pleasure. Walking the row from the southern end, it seems to stretch on forever. In fact, it runs for about 500 metres - although originally it may have extended to around 800 metres.
Cresting the top of the hill, the larger stones become visible. Stunning in their own right, the effect is further enhanced by the breathtaking vista of the Erme Valley and Stall Moor that opens up behind them. For those intending to strike out in search of Kiss-in-the-Ring, the view is quite daunting.
For my money, this is the most impressive stone row on Dartmoor - both in size and aesthetics. Although located on the edge of the moor, there's still a palpable sense of remoteness and seclusion.
For me, The Cornwood Maidens felt like gatekeepers marking the boundary between two worlds, with the true wilderness lying ahead. From here, you can strike out across the moor towards the (relatively) nearby Kiss-in-the-Ring stone circle, leaving civilisation well behind - an adventure of an entirely different magnitude.