Rough Tor and Brown Willy, Bodmin Moor, North Cornwall
This walk could be described as the ascent of Cornwall's "Twin Peaks", and although that may sound a little daunting, provided you pick the right day, take your time and take plenty of provisions then you will have a glorious day standing on top of the highest points in Cornwall.
Before I describe the walk, a word of caution. Take a careful note of the weather forecast, if there is any likelihood of rain or mist then postpone your walk for another day. A couple of years ago fog descended while a family were walking this area and they were completely disorientated and had to be brought down by a rescue team.
To get to the start of the walk, if approaching from the west take the A39 to Camelford, after you pass through the centre of the town you start to drive up the hill, then look out for a sign for Tregoodwell and Rough Tor on the right. If approching from the east by the A39 about 2 miles from Camelford look out for a sign on the left for Crowdy Reservoir and Rough Tor then follow the signs. From the Camelford turning proceed to the hamlet of Tregoodwell, pass through and you come to a single track road. This road is single track with passing places, and I swear is the longest straight piece of country road in Cornwall ! After about a mile and a half you come to the National Trust car park at the foot of Rough Tor.
Proceed out of the car park and cross the little clapper bridge and Rough Tor rises up directly in front of you. At this point look to the right and you will see a stone memorial. This marks the spot where a young girl was murdered in the spring of 1844. The full inscription reads "This monument erected by Public Subscription in memory of Charlotte Dymond who was murdered by Matthew Weekes on Sunday April 14th 1844". The pathway is not marked, but is clearly visible. My advice, if you are not a regular walker is to take it in easy stages. Take time to investigate a number of early stone settlements, probably Bronze Age that you can find on the way up. As you near the summit the view starts to broaden, the lake to the west you can see is part of The Stannon China Clay works, now closed. In its heyday it produced 50,000 tons a year of china clay slurry which was piped down to the dries at Wenford. Looking north you can see the plantation woodland of Crowdy Woods, beyond that is Davidstow Airfield (now abandoned).
As you come to the summit, branch left to go to Little Rough Tor with its stone formations. These tors are a common site on a number of hills throughout Cornwall, probably the most spectacular and certainly best known is at The Cheesewring, Near Minions. Their characteristic shape was formed naturally over the millenia, the granite blocks which were left after the ice ages were exposed and wind, ice and water have entered the natural fissures in the granite to form their present shape. They held a special significance for early settlers and you can find evidence of habitation around many of the tors.
From Little Rough Tor head south west to Rough Tor itself. There is evidence of early settlement all around this area, including hut circles and on the south side an early field system. Look out for Logan Rock which is perched atop the tor and is said to rock, rather like the other Logan Rock near Penzance. The view to the south reveals Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall.
After you have fully investigated this area it is time to go on to Brown Willy. From Rough Tor go back to the pathway between Rough Tor and Little Rough Tor and descend the slope to the bottom. Here you will pass Fernacre Stone Circle, a collection of 56 stone megaliths, some now scattered, fallen and partly buried. At the bottom of the incline you will come to a small bridge over the De Lank River, after which is a gate and stile. Start the ascent of Brown Willy. Rough Tor is owned by the National Trust, but Brown Willy is private property with a permissive path to the summit. This area is actively farmed and you should make sure you keep to the path at all times, though the path is clear as this walk is well used. As you reach the summit you will cross another stile and from there it is a steep climb to the top. Your efforts will be well rewarded as from this, the highest point in Cornwall you can see the moor spread out before you. On a good day you can see all the way across Cornwall, from Tintagel in the north to Fowey in the south. You will notice there is an OS bench mark on the summit denoting the height as 420m (1375 ft), however some enterprising souls have built a cairn a good 6 feet higher!
Time now to leave Brown Willy, so retrace your steps back down to the De Lank river, then up to Rough Tor again, down the other side to the car park. Please note the time of sunset as you don't want to be caught out in the gathering dusk.
I think that this walk allows you to experience the essence of Bodmin Moor. Its history, geology and culture can all be found here. Have an enjoyable walk and let me know about your experience - use the contact link below.
This walk has been personally walked by me but the directions given should be considered as a guide only and not as a definitive route plan. You are responsible for your own safety and I therefore recommend you take with you a suitable map (Ordinance Survey Map 109 from the Explorer series covers this walk) together with sufficient refreshments, water and adequate clothing.
The De Lank River at the base of Rough Tor
Rough Tor Summit
Memorial Stone to Charlotte Dymond
Weathered Stones atop Rough Tor
Brown Willy from Rough Tor
Brown Willy summit
View from the top of Brown Willy