We started the sixth and last leg of the Copper Trail on one of those May days when one is not sure whether it is going to shower with rain or burn you to a frazzle. It turned out to be a lovely day for a walk: no rain and with enough cloud to prevent over-heating or burning.
There had been copious rain after a long dry spell and the hedges and fields were filled with lush green growth. The last of the bluebells, campion, three-cornered leek (wild garlic) and cow parsley providing a charming red, white and blue accompaniment to the green of the hedgerows.
We picked up where we had left off, close to Trevague, following a familiar path through a wood and out onto the moor in search of the Nine Stones stone circle. On our previous walk we had been unable to find this stone circle, as though the piskies had spirited it away. We had searched random stones in search of the boundary stones which led to the circle, but without success. This time, we soon found the line of boundary stones with their comforting letters ‘A’ (for Altarnun) and ‘N’ (for North Hill) carved on them.
The stones themselves were easily spotted, alone on a wide sweep of moor which seemed to contain no vestige of the C21, the distance hills being shrouded in morning mist.
The small Bronze Age circle consists of eight stones around a single central stone. It has been restored over time but retains its lonely charm. Sadly, cattle seem to have used the stones as rubbing posts and they are all surrounded by deep muddy patches which are no doubt pools in winter.
It would be splendid to meet the men who built this stone circle, even for a moment, or to watch them working or carrying out rituals within it. Just for a moment our various guesses would be confirmed or denied and our understanding would be extended.
We returned to the lonely house of Clitters which bordered a small virgin wood. In amongst the trees were boulders covered in moss and the relics of previous trees, seemingly twisted into the shapes of great serpents, their mouths gaping, awaiting unsuspecting humans. As night falls this would become a magical and fearful place.
Much of this walk was on roads but quiet roads with almost no traffic which made the going easy. Many of the settlements reminded us of the contrast between West Carne and South Carne on our previous walk: some houses set in manicured gardens, others very much rough working farms apparently collecting scrap metal and the occasional dead car. Stonaford contained both.
We were soon approaching the once-great estate of Trebartha, the former home of the Rodd family. The house has gone but there is evidence of careful planting and some lovely buildings clustered around the Home Farm.
By now we were in the valley of the Lynher and a very fine valley it is too. The moor reaches up one side but the valley itself is lush and well cared-for.
A straight stretch brought us into the village of North Hill in time for a cup of coffee. We sat in the churchyard, admiring the wildflowers that survived in God’s acre. Inconveniently, the church was in use for a service and we could not visit, but returned later in the day.
Our way took us out of the village and across a field: the book excelling with its directions as usual ‘… a stile into the woods, just left of the tall trees’ (it was).
A steep climb through some ancient woodland took us back to the edge of the moor on the west bank. Again, we speculated whether one of our ancestors would recognise the virgin forest through which we were walking, for the C21 seemed to have changed little.
From here our way was dominated by the rugged outline of Sharp Tor while off to our right were apparently the hidden remains of various mine workings and quarries.
Crossing the Lynher once again at Berrowbridge, we walked up and over a ridge, descending to Henwood which almost boasted a village green. Sitting on the granite seat in the middle of a traffic island, we could admire views of the rolling countryside, across the Lynher and Tamar valleys towards the tors of distant Dartmoor.
The evidence of mining activity increased as we made our way on the last leg of our journey, mostly the remains of the Phoenix United Mine whose engine house still stands amidst a decayed landscape.
The Cheesering was evident on a hill above us with people clustered around it. We resisted the temptation to divert from the approved route (why does it not go that way, we wondered) and headed along the road, avoiding various feral sheep, until we were within the village of Minions and close to a welcoming cafe. We had circumnavigated Bodmin Moor.
We had walked 8.8 miles (gps) or 8 miles (Google) in 3 hours 45 minutes.