St Breward to Davidstow airfield

One of the many stiles

Another rain-free day took us out for the next leg of the Copper Trail. When I say rain-free, this does not mean that it did not rain heavily the day before, a fact that worried us as the guidebook was full of helpful remarks such as ‘after heavy rain it may provide you with a wet foot‘, ‘… this takes you into a very muddy field …’  We had a sweepstake on how soon we would have a boot full of water.

It would turn out to be worth the effort.

We left St Breward following one of those paths so typical of Cornwall: one which joined up a series of farmsteads to the local church (see the Coffin Path in W Penwith). These are one of the joys of a formerly celtic landscape in which the church stands at the centre of a parish of distributed farms rather than in a village. This path crossed fields and had a series of (slippery) stone stiles.

The path lies through the middle of this. Note the ‘hidden’ bridge

Of course the cows and horses had wanted to inspect the stiles and so we waded through mud to get to them.

Our first real challenge was a stile near Mellon Farm where there was a bridge which we were assured ‘… was only noticeable if the stream is running under it.’ It was and we suffered our first wet boot.

The path continued up a small valley and emerged onto Harpur’s Down with the bulks of Rough Tor, Brown Willy and the man-shaped hills of Stannon Clay works looming in the watery sunlight on our right. We were following something shown on the map as the Moorland Walk although there was no sign of any special signage on the ground.

Rough Tor, Brown Willy and Stannon Clay Works from Harpur’s Down

As we joined the road here, some stones were a reminder of  just how much archaeology there is remaining on Bodmin Moor. Anywhere else, these stones might have been ‘interesting’ but here they were two-a-penny and unworthy of mention in specialist literature.

Lichen on the trees at Watergate

Stannon stone circle was a short distance away up on the moor but we left it for another day, as we later left Advent church.

The route took us on an undulating route, down into a series of small valleys, across a bridge over another stream, and then up the other side. Each had their character and delight. Emerging from the first such valley, we passed some mysterious humps and bumps which may have been a medieval or earlier enclosure, past an interesting holed stone, and out onto a road near Furhouse.

This narrow road twisted and turned between bare Cornish walls constructed of granite boulders taking us past some small celtic fields and on, past a delightful and tiny Methodist chapel at Highertown. The way then descended into another valley and across a stream at Watergate (not, as far as we know, any relation). Here the air was so pure that lichen hung from the trees like wool discarded by the sheep who now inhabited the fields.

The Moorgate Long Stone

Following this stream up a short valley, we climbed a grassy field which was water-logged all the way up. This was a reminder of  how thin the soil is around here. Beneath, one could feel the occasional solid lump of stone or rock.

By now we were inured to the wet but it was helpful to have small field walls to take one out of the squelchy grass and avoid the problems of energetic tussock-jumping.

On the horizon appeared the next monument: the Longstone or Moorgate stone. At 3m tall this menhir is Bodmin Moor’s tallest. Nearby, buried in the grass was a series of other stones which may well have some connection, now lost.

We were now on something called the Watermill Walk but again, there was no local signage.

The River Camel

The route descended into the Camel valley where we joined a delightful path which wound along the river bank, passing the inevitable water treatment (output) plant with which our walks seem to be blessed, eventually emerging into the middle of the town of Camelford.

This was the formal end of this leg of the Copper Trail, after 6.5 map miles. The author may have chosen this as a natural break but this distance felt too short for a full day’s walk. Perhaps he had taken into account the very slow going through the muddy fields.

Crowdy Reservoir

We had decided to take a chunk out of the next walk, however, and continued on through the town, admiring the ‘varied assortment of shops‘ and made our way out onto the Rough Tor Road through Tregoodwill. After a steep climb, the route turned sharp left and followed the crest of the downs, heading for Crowdy Reservoir past yet another water treatment (input) plant.

The views of Rough Tor, Brown Willy and Crowdy were now quite splendid and filled the sky to our right. The path itself was … well ‘dull’ would be a good description: a dead straight road leading towards a series of fir tree plantations that have colonised the south side of the former Davidstow airfield.

Enough was enough. We had reached the north east corner of the Copper Trail and would now turn the corner and head south east. We had walked 9 map miles and 10.25 miles on the gps in 4 hours.

Yet again, the author had done us proud: he had guided us with some impeccable instructions through a lovely series of valleys (shame about the mud), some tantalising archaeology, a lovely walk along the Camel and much of it with the sky-filling views of the Moor and its great hills from the north. And all in beautiful winter sunshine. Now we turn south

 

Callywith to St Breward

It was good to get out and stretch our legs

We set out on a cold dry, windy January day with the objective of shaking off the effects of Christmas and to find some fresh air after a series of heavy storms and gales had passed through. It was sunny and cold with a stiffish wind blowing.

This stretch of the Copper Trail took us on a wide sweep westwards from Callywith, close to Bodmin, to meet the upper reaches of the Camel Trail before breaking away to head back up to the moor ending at St Breward.

Leaving the road near Racecourse Farm, we followed a series of tracks towards Copshorn. The mud was thick in places and we were grateful for the sharp frost which had stiffened the surface of the surrounding grass.

The trail often passed small settlements at the bottom of valleys, close to bridges. The first of these was at Clerkenwater where there used to be a woollen mill. A charming Old Laundry Cottage gave a hint of its original purpose.

The Camel Trail ensured there was always light at the end of the tunnel

At Copshorn, on the hill above, we encountered a large solar farm which was not mentioned in the guidebook and the paths had been altered. From here, the path descended by forestry roads through a wood where, after a momentary hesitation, we managed to join up with the Camel Trail.

The Trail was one of the two highlights of this walk. This section of the familiar was much less busy than the Padstow to Bodmin section and followed the Camel river at a slight distance, through some lovely woodland. We were glad to be out of the wind and walking on firm level ground for about 4 miles, passing Hellandbridge and eventually reaching Tresarrett.

We saw only a few cyclists, runners and walkers as we chuffed our way along the old railway track. Despite one’s childhood dreams, a career driving a steam train must have been a relatively repetitive process with cold mornings, rain, and constant smoke and coal dust. Yet some lines must have been a joy and this is surely one of them, watching the changing seasons in the trees and river as the line winds upwards between the outpost of Wenford and the busy metropolis of Bodmin.

The granite bridge which only crosses part of the river

From a road junction at Tresarrett a short uphill section led to some more muddy tracks which dropped down into another valley, across a narrow granite bridge, and up a steep slope emerging right beside the lovely Blisland church.  Here we settled down to a lunch which included some warming and welcome soup.

Tearing ourselves away from the delights of the village green, we headed north through Pendrift.

Our next objective was the area around the de Lank quarries, the second highlight of the walk. The evidence of the quarry’s work had been very evident as all the houses and cottages we had seen had been built of solid granite.

Pendrift moor. Spot the ‘solitary hawthorn tree’

We soon found ourselves back on waterlogged and very muddy ground, especially as we emerged onto the wide-open spaces of Pendrift Downs.

Somewhere here, amongst the dead and brown bracken, we were told to turn off at a ‘solitary hawthorn tree’. It is a mistake to use trees as waypoints, certainly in an area which was covered in hawthorns. We chose one and found something of a path which led in much the right direction and continued, hopping from tussock to tussock. ‘In winter this path can get wet underfoot’ said the guidebook. I should say it can.

The de Lank river

It was worth the effort however as we soon found ourselves crossing the de Lank river which gushed and tumbled over the boulders, heading for Wenford. The guidebook likens this to the Golitha falls.

Crossing the old quarry road, the path went through the muddiest possible field inhabited by some cold-looking cows. Thankfully, the hard surface was not far below the surface but our boots were now thoroughly caked with the resulting mud (as were some socks).

Eventually, we emerged on a road and were able to follow a path into the beginnings of the long string of hamlets that makes up St Breward. A final muddy path past the school and we had reached our destination: the Old Inn next to St Breward church.

The temperature was beginning to drop and we were pleased to be able to visit the church.

We had covered 10 miles (according to the guide), 11 miles (according to the map) or 15 miles according to our gps, in 5 hours. The heating in the car was very welcome.

 

St Neot to Callywith

Autumn was doing its very best and the countryside was covered with the rich browns of fallen beech leaves, the trees bare against the pale sky illuminated by a bright low sun. It was a fresh November day which threatened an occasional light shower.

We were back on the Copper Trail again, at last.

We rejoined the route at St Neot, where we left of, heading north towards Hilltown Farm before dropping down to the lovely Loveny river.

Colliford residents

The way took us on a cart track up over Penkestle Moor. The path here was muddy despite the lack of recent rain and we were soon jumping from tussock to tussock to ensure dry boots. A short sharp hail shower was the only actual rain we saw all day and not enough to slow us up.

Emerging at the bottom of Colliford Lake dam, we met some of the local residents before turning west towards Carburrow tor which was prominent for some time.

Although part of the Trail covers quite a bit of road, much of the stretches are short and very empty of traffic. This gives it a degree of variety and, in wet weather, the hard roads are almost welcome.

Above Treveddoe valley

Although all part of Bodmin Moor, the area consists of very green fields, wooded valleys and large patches of rough open moorland. much of it covered in scattered stones and remains of former settlements.

Carburrow tor is an archaeologist’s jigsaw puzzle of settlements with long house, cairns, and the remains of many round huts.

We drank a welcome cup of coffee at the foot of the tor before crossing Warleggan down and descending a road to to Treveddoe, a beautifully-situated house at the head of a wooded valley.

Wheal whisper – the ‘dry’

The path dropped down the field and past the remains of Wheal Whisper tin mine. Some small buildings, a landscaped quarry and some well-dressed walls are all that remain of a once-flourishing concern. There was more jumping over tussocks here.

We emerged onto a road and into the village of Mount.

Just outside Mount there was a wonderful signpost, very typical of the ones around Warleggan (‘twinned with Narnia’): great white slabs of wood on elegant posts. This one was held in place by an iron bracket and helpfully offered Bodmin as a destination on two of its three arms.

The inscribed crosses

The road passed the small Treslea Down cross and then two inscribed stones above Welltown. The latter were high up on the top of a Cornish wall at a crossroads and had surely been moved there in the past. Ancient stones continue to provide their usual purpose as waymarkers.

Crossing the unusually tidy greens at Little Downs, we headed towards the remains of Cardinham castle. Sadly, there is very little to be seen from the road. The route squeezes down a muddy track – a narrow ‘bridle path’ – past the old mill before rising up towards the village of Cardinham, the church tower very visible on the hill ahead. This must have been the main route from castle to church.

Cardinham church has some wonderful churchyard crosses and is well worth a detour.

After a bite of lunch, we set off for Cardinham woods. The excellent Copper Trail guide does like the word ‘eventually’ as in ‘follow the track which eventually comes out …’ It encourages confidence that the future will come true.

We ‘eventually’ reached a sign which confirmed that we were entering the woods themselves. We were warned to expect joggers, walkers, dogs and horses. We were not warned to expect a bunch of men wrapped up in leather jackets and goggles, driving open cars on a treasure hunt and beaming from ear to ear. There was no sign of any horses.

The neglected Callywith crosses

The final stretch up through Deviock wood was a long haul. By now the sun had lost its strength and we were walking in shadow. ‘Eventually’ we emerged onto a track said to be much frequented by rabbits – we saw none – the sound of the A30 a dull roar in the distance. A short way across a field, one of those really muddy gateways and a soggy track and we were back onto a tarmac  road past Callybarrett Farm and a waiting car.

A final joy was hidden under a hedge at the edge of a bramble patch, below a modern embanked road: two of the saddest-looking wheel-headed crosses we have yet come across. They stand side by side, apparently neglected. Leaving crosses in situ is clearly a preferred strategy but it seems sad that these two have not been given a more decent prospect than looking out at brambles and listening to the road of the A30 fifty metres away.

After 5 hours we had walked 11 miles (Google), 16.5 miles (our gps) and returned for a well-deserved hot bath. The Copper Trail is proving to be a well-thought out and enjoyable route.

Minions to St Neot

Cornwall Council does have a sense of humour after all!

A bright sunny day after a few days of heavy rain tempted us out to start the Copper Trail which had been on our agenda for some time. We decided to start at the beginning at Minions where we discovered that Cornwall Council does have a sense of humour after all.

On the roadside opposite the road sign stood the tall Long Tom wheel-headed wayside cross which may well be an original menhir.

This section of the trail was full of interest and variety, ranging from ancient monuments churches and holy wells, to C19 mining natural delights. 

The Hurlers

The real start of our walk was at the Hurlers and Pipers. The Hurlers consists of three Bronze Age stone circles close to each other: a rare formation but no help in understanding how and why stone circles were used.

The trail proper starts by following a disused railway/tramway south from Minions. Lumps of granite are marked with holes where the rails were originally connected. A short distance ahead, the track descends the former Gonamena incline, emerging eventually at Crow’s Nest. To the east, the remains of the South Caradon mine bespatter the side of Caradon Hill with its enormous television transmitter.

Trevethy Quoit

Our next monument was Scillonian portal tomb of Trevethy Quoit, possibly Cornwall’s oldest structure: an enormous neolithic dolmen. Sadly a row of houses rather encroaches on its setting but on a fine day, there can be few better sights.

The purpose of the hole in the capstone is unknown.

In the distance, the tower of St Cleer was visible above the trees and we took an overgrown bridleway which would never have accommodated a horse, down the hill to Trecarne (where the houses all seemed to have ‘Carne’ in their names). Here, we left the trail to take a detour to visit St Cleer with its holy well and church.

St Cleer holy well

The holy well, dedicated to St Clare of the order of Poor Clare’s – St Francis’ friend – is an elaborate structure which successive restorations has rather hemmed in with an inelegant wall. Its waters, we are reliably informed, will cure insanity but they are sadly inaccessible, which may explain a lot.

Alongside stands a C15 Latin cross.

We rejoined the main trail near South Trekeive. It would have been a short step to the C8 King Doniert’s Stone – or stones – with its inscription and lovely Celtic knotwork but we had already visited them on the way to Minions.

At South Trekeive we passed our third water treatment works of the day – always a delight – before crossing Bulland Downs and emerging at Draynes Bridge.

Golitha falls on the River Fowey

A short detour through some lovely woodland – a nature reserve – is highly recommended to view Golitha Falls. Here we found various people wandering around asking ‘are these the falls?‘ in the manner of someone expecting Victoria Falls on a charming Cornish river.

We can recommend the reserve for dog walking, adventures and picnics.

Back to the road and a steep climb up to the hamlet of Draynes  before an equally steep decline to the converted Methodist chapel at Lower Trenant. From here, the track took us into the lovely Periock Wood, following a stream up a muddy path towards Lower Bowden. Here the farmer had helpfully cut a track across an unharvested hay field to indicate the ‘right route’.

St Neot holy well

We emerged close to the almost invisible Berry Castle and cut across some open moorland before descending towards St Neot, hidden in the valley below. A quick detour to the hopelessly Victorian holy well brought us eventually to St Neot’s wonderful church with its incredible windows.

Here we ended the first stage of the Copper Trail. Our gps said we had walked over 12 miles in about 4.75 hours although Google Maps stubbornly suggests nearer 9 miles.

If the later sections of the trail are as full of interest as this section then we are in for a treat.

 

 

Cotehele to Cremyll Ferry

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Leaving Cotehele

We left our exploration of the Tamar valley somewhat hanging in the air after our walk to Cotehele. We had found somewhere to launch our canoes. It was all a question of waiting for the right tide and a gap in diaries.

The aim of this expedition was to canoe the tidal Tamar to Cremyll Ferry and thus to complete our circum-navigation/walk around Cornwall. Unusually, we had invited friends to join us as part of our joint exploration of Cornwall’s rivers.

IMG_0864A very early start saw us leaving Cotehele at 9:00 at the top of a spring tide. The water was lapping the top of the quay and the gigs were returning from their morning exercise as we set off. The river was already ebbing making our progress satisfyingly easy.

We could not have chosen a better day. There was no wind and although rain was threatened for late afternoon, we expected to remain dry all the way.

20170528_091704The first stretch past Chapel Farm and round an enormous bend to Hole’s Hole  and on to Cargreen was a joy. Great reed beds lined the right hand side of the river; shelduck were teaching their offspring to swim; an occasional swan preened its feathers; the water was smooth and we made good progress.

Approaching Cargreen after 5 miles, we went through the first of two strange patches of water.  Despite the strong tide which was straining at the buoys and moored yachts, the water was glassy flat. There was not a ripple on it, as though someone had ironed it smooth. The clouds were perfectly reflected in its mirrored surface. Was this, perhaps, some junction between fresh and salty water?

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Cargreen for coffee

A coffee stop at Cargreen was welcome, but short, as we did not want to miss out on the benefit of the fast-flowing tide.

Rounding West Point, the two great bridges came into view at the end of a long straight.

We passed the entrance to the River Tavy with its impressive railway bridge. It is a reminder of the free market at work in the Victorian age that neither this bridge, nor Brunel’s masterpiece allowed pedestrians or carts: the railway wanted to preserve its monopoly.

We met the second strange water feature just before we reached the bridges: a line of flotsam right across the river as though it had picked up a load from a single beach and was now transferring it out to sea. Not even our tame geographer could account for this. One only notices such features when close to the water surface.

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Brunel’s masterpiece

Crossing this line, we noticed a change in the conditions. A line in the sky hinted that the rain might be moving in rather earlier than expected, a gentle headwind emerged from nowhere and we had to start working for progress, despite the strong tide.

By the time we reached the bridges, the wind was strengthening and funnelling through the gap. Waves were beginning to appear. So much so that the passage under the bridges was through fast-flowing maelstrom of water, pulling us this way and that.

This was the beginning of some very different conditions. ‘Wind against tide’, is a familiar statement in navigation theory lessons, hinting at discomfort and hard work. We experienced both.

The stretch from the bridges down the Hamoaze, past the naval dockyards, was ‘everyman for him/herself’ with rough water in patches, standing waves, and a strong headwind. Individual canoes disappeared into troughs and appeared over crests at random. Had anyone capsized they would have had to fend for themselves.

Though there was no over-riding pattern to the water, beneath us, the river was moving inexorably towards the sea. We were just grateful that there were no large ship movements as we battled on.

Eventually, we had all passed the Torpoint ferry, heading for the green of the Mount Edgcumbe peninsular, Maker church peeking above the trees.

We were swept onwards towards Cremyll Ferry and landed, thankfully, at bang on 12:30. We had completed the journey in 3.5 hours with a ten minute stop. A total distance of just over 11.5 miles.

Celebrations were delayed until we had found some dry clothes, warmed our frozen fingers and loaded our canoes. We can recommend the carvery in the Edgcumbe Arms after a hard morning on the water. It was well-deserved: at least we thought so.

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Celebrating the completion of our journey down the Tamar

Thus, we had completed our circum-navigation/walk around Cornwall without having to walk through Plymouth.

Our next project will be to cross its width of Cornwall yet again, and to circle Bodmin Moor, while continuing our exploration of the county’s churches. Oh, and our friends are already talking of exploring yet another river or two.

Thanks to Pom, Jeremy, Yvette, Gordon for joining us on this trip.

Restormel to Lanhydrock

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Walking the Saints’ Way, as we were last weekend, makes one think more about the geography of the Bodmin-Lostwithiel corridor.

We are so influenced by modern communications that the two towns seem to live in their own bubbles. Bodmin hugs the A30 and is generally approached along it. Lostwithiel hugs the other major road in the area, the A390, which distributes traffic east and west.

Continue reading Restormel to Lanhydrock

The Saints’ Way 4

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Lanlivery church

It has been a wonderful spring with three weeks of dry sunny weather during April. The camelias, bluebells, azaleas and blossom seem to have gone on for ever and it is only now that they are beginning to look as though their flowering is drawing to a close.

At the beginning of May we took the chance to complete ‘the other leg’ of the Saints’ Way.

The Saints’ way splits at Helman Tor with the westerly route going through Luxulyan, St Blazey and Tywardreath to enter Fowey across the Menabilly headland. The easterly route heads for Lanlivery and follows the river to Golant, entering Fowey from the north. When we previously walked the Saints’ Way we had used the westerly route.

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Polyntor standing stone

We started at Lanlivery, having previously walked the Helman Tor to Lanlivery section on a warm summer’s day after a pub lunch at the (excellent) Crown Inn.

The way crossed a small valley, past a curious shrine to Humpty Dumpty, complete with lighting effects, to where a large standing stone stood, sited unusually on the side of a hill but within view of the church tower. This would have been a good waymarker for a passing saint.

There was another waymarker over the next hill where we encountered a wayside cross, set next to the busy A390 at a place charmingly called No Man’s Land.

After a short distance walking alongside this road, the way dived right and we took a steep lane down a field towards Milltown.

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St Winnow church

Passing a vain goose admiring her image in a greenhouse, we emerged on a small road running parallel to the river. All around, the vegetation was red, white and blue against a background of the fresh green of spring: campion, wild garlic and bluebells were doing their bit and the air smelled strongly of fresh garlic.

This was a lovely section and very easy going. In the distance, across the river, the sight of St Winnow church in its waterside setting just added to the delights.

The path turned off halfway up a hill and crossed a large ploughed field, heading for Golant. We stopped here to visit St Sampson church which gets a single star from Simon Jenkins. This is well worth a visit, if only for its hillside setting and putative links with the story of Tristan and Iseult.

P1090384Leaving Golant, the way then became a narrow path and quite the loveliest section of the day. The vegetation continued to be quite splendid: sadly our camera cannot do it justice. There is something about the colours of bluebells that modern cameras simply do not like. They also cannot capture the smell of fresh vegetation or the noises of the birds enjoying a sunny day.

We emerged at a small quay and followed the valley up through a wood to a small waterfall where we ate a sandwich, surrounded by the smell of garlic.

Across another hill – and past the inevitable water treatment works – and we descended a hill towards the Bodinnick ferry. Around us were the signs of the former railway station and its accompanying infrastructure. The station itself being converted into ‘apartments’. We hope they like views of a car park.

We walked through the narrow streets of Fowey – it was almost mandatory to wear Joules and SeaSalt – and arrived at the church formally to end our walk. It had been an easy 7.5 mile (9 mile on our gps) walk in 3 and a quarter hours.

 

Gunnislake to Cotehele

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Morwell wood

The final stages of our Tamar walk were a bit disjointed thanks to our discovery that launching canoes at Gunnislake did not appear to be on the cards (except at dead of night when the gamekeepers were not watching). We were faced with a series of short links instead of one long stretch.

To link Gunnislake to our new get-in spot of Cotehele Quay needed one of these short walks on a sunny January day. There was not a leaf left on the trees but the snowdrops, crocuses and daffodils were beginning to  appear from among the leaf-litter.

We started where we had left off, just south of Gunnislake, and walked on easy roads up the landmark of Calstock church. In the gorge below us the Tamar, now a mighty river, was winding its way past Morwell Woods and showing increasing signs of being tidal.

Calstock church was delightful and set, unexpectedly, on the site of a former Roman fort. We noted a ledger stone in the porch to a Griffin – an echo of entering Mylor church.

We shadowed the single-track railway as it twists and turns its way around the valley side, before dropping down past OkelTor Mine, holding our noses as we reached the river and its reedy bank close to the sewage works.

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Calstock viaduct

By now the Calstock viaduct (1904) was very visible in all its elegance, the town clutching the hillside on the north bank. It is something of a surprise that this little line – from Plymouth to Gunnislake – has survived successive railway closures but the winding river and lack of bridges means that communities like Calstock and Bere Alston are actually  rather cut off with few major roads.

Calstock appeared an attractive small town with come good quality houses. Others looked sadly neglected.

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Cotehele house

As a light rain began to fall, we followed the road along the river’s edge to the sharp Cotehele turn where we took to the woods and made our way up to the house. Cotehele (NT) is a fine Tudor mansion of a very domestic scale with wonderful views down to the river and viaduct below.

We wandered around the gardens and up to the folly on the hilltop. Built in the C18, this triangular tower sits on the top of the hill and was designed to look like a church tower from afar. The NT has thoughtfully provided a stair to allow one to reach the top.

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Cotehele Quay: Shamrock

Our walk took us down to Cotehele Quay on the river bank below. Here the Shamrock (1899), a Tamar barge, sits looking slightly disconsolate in winter, surrounded by glutinous mud. An NT cafe provided sustenance and shelter from the passing light drizzle.

Our return route took us past the little Edgcumbe chapel, built on the cliff edge close to where Sir Richard, a supporter of the future Henry VII, hid in the undergrowth to avoid his pursuers in ca 1483. He dived into the river to escape them. His pursuers, seeing his cap floating away, presumed him drowned and gave up the chase, allowing him to escape to Brittany. A charming story and a reminder of the perils of backing the ‘wrong’ side, as the Cornish gentry so often did.

A more direct route took us back up the hill and back to our car, the sun providing an entertainment of rainbows pointing at Kit Hill which really does need climbing one day.

Our Tamar walk is thus effectively complete: about 60 miles. The remainder of our ‘circumnavigation’ of the borderlands will be by boat (and reported here).

This circular walk of about 6 miles had taken us 3 hours of walking. We rewarded ourselves by visiting St Ive church on the way home.

Around Gunnislake

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Welcome to Gunnislake

We had planned to walk to Gunnislake and complete our journey down the tidal Tamar by canoe. A recce around Gunnislake soon disabused us of this idea. It is hard to imagine a more unnecessarily unwelcoming area than the banks of the river at Gunnislake.

We had previously run into bossy riparian owners a short distance up the river. It seems the same attitude prevailed here as the banks were littered with signs banning any activity at all.

The walk along the Tamar from the bridge passes through some woods filled with the remains of old industrial buildings being reclaimed by nature.

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Gunnislake weir

The remnants of the old canal and lock also become apparent as one reaches the weir which is the head of tidal navigation.

In the distance, as the river turns southwards towards the Morwelham bend, an attractive looking gorge appears, under Sheepridge wood.

It is a shame that one cannot access this area easily by boat and it is hard not to resent the prohibitions which are so uncharacteristic on a tidal river. We wondered what anyone would do if we had paddled upstream down the middle of the river.

We will have to walk on and launch further downstream.

Milton Abbot to Horsebridge

p1080463Having reached Milton Abbot, our route planning became a little uncertain. We had a mere 4 miles gap linking our last destination at Milton Abbot with Horsebridge which we had reached from the other direction. We kicked ourselves for not having stretched ourselves on some of the earlier, easy walks.

To fill in the gap, we started at Horsebridge and did a circular walk to Milton Abbot and back. The preferred route is along the Tamar Valley Discovery Trail which takes you through Sydenham Damerel although there is a straighter route through Leigh Cross which we used on the return journey. The Sydenham route had the advantage of going off-road for a stretch after the village but was otherwise unremarkable; except for a rather jolly penny halfpenny gate.

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Milton Abbot Old Vicarage

This was not a walk filled with incident or particular delights. The distant profile of Bodmin Moor and the familiar shapes of Rough Tor and Brown Willy were constant companions, as was Kit Hill to the south west. As usual, we wished we could walk closer to the river itself.

Milton Abbot, which we only seem to visit on grey days, is clustered around its church (St Constantine) and contains some good looking small buildings. The Old Vicarage, however, is a candidate for any horror film and reminds one of the status of a Victorian vicar.

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Leaving Milton Abbot

There was another stretch of off-road walking out of the village before we headed back to Horsebridge by the more direct route.

A journey through the landscape and history of Cornwall