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Rough Tor Walk on Bodmin Moor

January 8, 2015 No Comments

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It was a glittering, sunlit day on Bodmin Moor. The light had a wintery, low-lying quality and the ground was crisp with frost and ice.  We were seeking something away from the coast, but equally as impressive as the ragged cliffs and golden sands. As it is, I think the moorland walk between Rough Tor and Brown Willy is just as dramatic a scene.

An hour’s drive from most of our Cornish Holiday Cottages, Rough Tor (pronounced ‘row’, as in argument) rises dramatically in front of you, dominating the landscape before you are even out of the car. At its top a scar of stark granite rose from the earth dramatically, enticing us towards it.

The ground lay crisp at our feet; the puddles still iced over in the winter sun as we crossed the stream onto the moorland and spotted the stone circles of Bronze Age farmhouses nestled amidst the long grass. Further up half wild ponies fed and played. We began to feel the wind clawing around the tors.

With hats firmly in place and our coats wrapped around us, we made our way up the wide expanse of the moor, up to the stacks of balanced rocks at the top. From there we clambered up on to the top of the tor. The view was beautifully panoramic. In the distance were Port Isaac and the sea, with a clay works mapped out in the near distance. All around lay the wild grass lands, forests and hills. Stunning. But on the other side of Rough Tor lay another challenge: Brown Willy.

We made our descent into the next valley, bouncing on the exposed rock as we went. At the bottom we negotiated the small stream and up into the medieval farmland surrounding Brown Willy, squelching in the mud as we went. Ascending the north side, the ground was still delightfully frozen, even at one in the afternoon and we took delight in cracking the surface with our feet. I can only imagine what the moorland looks like in the summer, buzzing with wildlife and teeming with the blues and pinks of wild flowers.

Rising above the hill is a pyramid of stone adding extra height. Standing at 1,378 feet, Brown Willy is the highest point on Bodmin Moor and Cornwall itself. This is where we caught our breath.

The walk is a five-mile round trip back to the car and by the time we got there we were more than a little hungry. A short distance from the Tor, near the village of Alternun, is the local pub and eatery The Rising Sun, which serves unpretentious, yet and tasty food – the scallops with elderflower dressing starter is a generous portion and an interesting take on the dish: this was the perfect end to the day.

Slowly, we drove west, back towards home and were greeted by a wonderful winter sunset. The hills glowed red and the sun was an ember, lingering on the horizon.

For a map of the walk with directions got to http://www.iwalkcornwall.co.uk/walk/roughtor_and_brown_willy