St Breward to Advent

A circular walk from St Breward past the granite pillars of Devil's Jump to the 8ft Celtic cross and ancient churchyard of Advent at the foot of the moors, returning via the remains of the mediaeval village of Carwether to the Inn used by 11th century monks to build the highest church in Cornwall.

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From church, the walk crosses a network of small fields tucked between the moorland and river valleys. The route crosses the top of the gorge above Devil's Jump, before continuing through fields to the wayside cross at Tresinney. The walk reaches its northernmost point at Advent Church, turning back through Tresinney, and heading south, along the edge of the Camel valley, to the remains of the mediaeval village at Carwether. The walk continues along the Camel valley, returning to St Breward via the bluebell woodland at Tuckingmill.

Considerations

  • Some of the stiles on the route are fairly athletically-demanding (stone footholds over walls etc)

Reviews

I did the St Breward and Advent Church(es!) walk yesterday - excellent directions again, thank you! Please keep them coming...!!!
Another great walk taking in lots of history of the moors. Beautiful countryside and a peaceful walk. I didn't meet a soul! Bliss
Thank-you for another great walk yesterday, St Breward to Advent church.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 109
  • Distance: 6.4 miles/10.3 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: walking boots

OS maps for this walk

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)

Highlights

  • Panoramic views over Bodmin Moor from the remains of Carwether mediaeval village
  • St Breward Church - the highest church in Cornwall
  • Nice views over the Devil's Jump crags
  • Impressive 8ft tall wayside cross at Tresinney
  • Advent Church set in a churchyard dating back to Celtic times
  • Local food and drink at the historic Old Inn in St Breward

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Old Inn

Directions

  1. Follow the lane towards the Old Inn to reach a track with a Public Footpath sign on the left. Turn left onto this and follow it to reach a waymarked stile on the left.

    St Breward church claims to be the highest in the county. The tall tower can be seen easily, for many miles around. The church dates from the Middle Ages (1278).

  2. Cross the stile, then cross the field to a stile next to the gate.

    If you are crossing a field in which there are horses:

    • Do not approach horses if they have foals, make loud noises nor walk between a foal and its mother as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Generally the best plan is to walk along the hedges.
    • Horses will often approach you as they are used to human contact. If horses approach you, do not run away as this will encourage them to chase you. If you are uncomfortable with their proximity, calmly walk away.
    • Do not feed the horses with sweets or otherwise. Some food which is harmless to humans can be deadly to horses.
    • If you have a dog, keep it under close control in a visible but safe place, and as still and quiet as possible.
  3. Cross the stile and head across the field to a stile, next to the gateway, in the opposite hedge.

    The yellow flowers here in later summer are not dandelions.

    There are several quite common plants (catsear, hawkbit and hawksbeard) which all have yellow flowers similar to dandelion. Their main flowering period is later in the summer (late June and through July) than dandelion which itself peaks in April-May. If you want to have a crack and figuring out exactly which you are looking at, the leaves offer a good clue.

    Catsear is the most common, especially along the coast, and is the easiest one to tell apart as the leaves are hairy (hence the name).

    Hawkbit and hawksbeard both have non-hairy, deeply toothed leaves like dandelion but the leaves are narrower than dandelion. Hawksbeard has very well-defined "shark teeth" along most of the stem leading to the solid patch of leaf on the tip that all three have - these teeth are as wide as the widest part of the leaf. In hawkbit, these teeth are so tiny that the stem is nearly bare for about half its length.

    The first record of slang word "bunny" being applied to rabbits in from the late 17th Century. Prior to this it was in use as a term of endearment, recorded in a 1606 love letter as "my honey, my bunny...". The origin of this pet name is thought to be a dialect word "bun" which was a general term for small furry creatures which did include rabbits but also applied to squirrels. The use of the word "rabbit" for chattering is from the Cockney rhyming slang for "talk" (rabbit and pork).

  4. Cross the stile and head straight across the field to the right of a series of conifers, to a stile next to the gate.

    The number of cows in Cornwall has been estimated at around 75,000 (a lot of moo is needed for the cheese and clotted cream produced in Cornwall) so there's a good chance of encountering some in grassy fields.

    The Ramblers Association and National Farmers Union suggest some "dos and don'ts" for walkers which we've collated with some info from the local Countryside Access Team.

    Do

    • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
    • Be prepared for farm animals to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
    • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.
    • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
    • Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep.
    • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
    • If you and your dog feel threatened, work your way to the field boundary and quietly make your way to safety.
    • Report any dangerous incidents to the Cornwall Council Countryside Access Team - phone 0300 1234 202 for emergencies or for non-emergencies use the iWalk Cornwall app to report a footpath issue (via the menu next to the direction on the directions screen).

    Don't

    • If you are threatened by cattle, don't hang onto your dog: let it go to allow the dog to run to safety.
    • Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way around the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible.
    • Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.
  5. Cross the stile and follow along the right hedge, then continue across the field to the opposite corner to reach a waymarked stile to the left of the gate.

    Ribwort plantain is a common weed on cultivated land with unmistakable black seed heads on the end of tall stalks often with a halo of white flowers. Generations of children have worked out that by knotting the stem, the seed head can be launched as a projectile at unsuspecting adults.

    A tea made from the leaves is a popular herbal remedy used as a cough medicine. Care should be taken where the plant is harvested as it is not only highly tolerant of high metal levels in the soil but also accumulates these. It will even tolerate and accumulate arsenic which is normally toxic to plants. It therefore has the potential to be used for cleansing soils contaminated with mine waste.

  6. Cross the stile into a large field and follow the wall on the left to a waymarked opening in the corner.

    Cow pats can often be spotted (and therefore avoided) by the tuft of ungrazed grass surrounding the cow pat know as the "ring of repugnance". If it is left undisturbed, cows will avoid the area around a cow pat for a couple of years, allowing a bright green (well-fertilised) hummock of grass to form.

    The biological reason that the repulsion exists is to prevent cows from ingesting parasites from other cows. The reason that we find it repulsive too is due to our biological "wiring" to protect us from parasites.

  7. Go through the opening and then straight ahead across the field to a waymarked stile just to the left of the telegraph pole ahead.

    In Celtic times, fields were small and surrounded by banks or stone walls. The fields were used both for growing crops such as oats, wheat or rye, and for keeping livestock. The field shape was round or square, rather than rectangular, so that the stones didn't have to be carried further than necessary. The small size was because they needed to be weeded by hand, in many ways similar to a modern-day allotment.

  8. Cross the stile onto the lane and cross the stile opposite. Continue ahead through the gap in the embankment and then follow the wall on the right until you reach a corner with a telegraph pole. Then bear left slightly, downhill to a wooden stile.

    If there are sheep in the field and you have a dog, make sure it's securely on its lead (sheep are prone to panic and injuring themselves even if a dog is just being inquisitive). If the sheep start bleating, this means they are scared and they are liable to panic.

    If there are pregnant sheep in the field, be particularly sensitive as a scare can cause a miscarriage. If there are sheep in the field with lambs, avoid approaching them closely, making loud noises or walking between a lamb and its mother, as you may provoke the mother to defend her young.

    Sheep may look cute but if provoked they can cause serious injury (hence the verb "to ram"). Generally, the best plan is to walk quietly along the hedges and they will move away or ignore you.

  9. Cross the wooden and stone stiles and turn right onto the lane. Follow the lane along the edge of some woods until you reach a junction.

    Mosses reproduce with tiny spores rather than seeds.

    Many mosses use wind to carry their spores and produce tiny stalks with the spore-releasing equipment on the top in order to catch the wind - these can be seen as thread-like structures standing up from the moss. These spore-releasing devices often have a ring of teeth around the edge (visible with a magnifying glass) to control the release of the spores, allowing them to be released gradually over a period of time to catch gusts of wind of different speeds and in different directions.

  10. At the junction, bear left to stay on the lane. Follow it to a left bend where you can see a stile through the trees on the right.

    Water pepper grows along the lane, especially near the stream.

    Water pepper, as the name implies, grows on wet ground such as on the margins of lakes. The plant has a number of common names including "smartarse". As Emma Gunn points out in her foraging book "Never Mind the Burdocks", this is nothing to do with being clever: in the past, the dried leaves were added to bedding to drive away fleas etc. and the name comes from rolling over on a leaf in the wrong way. The leaves can be used as a herb and have have a lemony flavour similar to sorrel followed by heat which is a little like chilli.

    One of the birds that you're likely to see in this area is the robin.

    The Cornish name for the bird is rudhek from rudh = "red" (in Cornish, "dh" is pronounced like the "th" in "with"). Cornish place names like Bedruthan, Ruthern and Redruth are all based on the colour red.

  11. Bear right to the stile and cross it into a long, thin field. Walk along the length of the field keeping the bottom fence/embankment on your right to reach a waymarked stile in the far right corner.

    The hawthorn tree is most often found in hedgerows where it was used to create a barrier for livestock, and in fact haw was the Old English word for "hedge".

  12. Cross the stile and head straight across the next field to a stile.

    The farm on the hill on the right is called Cargelley.

    Cargelly was first recorded in 1332. OS maps show the name as Corgelly or Cargelley. The name is thought to be based on the Cornish words for fort (ker) and small wood (kelli). The location overlooking the valley would be consistent with some kind of hillfort being situated there in the Iron Age. Field names here such as "The Round" also support this but no physical remains have been found.

  13. Climb the stile and descend the steps to the track. Turn left onto the track and follow it uphill to a gate into Newton Farm.

    The settlement of Newton was first recorded in 1371 as Niwaton. The name is mediaeval English for "new farm".

  14. Go through the gate and follow the track past the house to join the driveway leading from the farm. Follow this until it eventually ends in a T-junction with a lane.

    From the farm lane, there are excellent views of Roughtor, to the right.

    Rough Tor is the second highest peak on Bodmin Moor. It is pronounced "row-tor" because the local dialect word "row" meant "rough". The summit of Rough Tor is encircled by a series of rough Neolithic stone walls which link natural outcrops, to form a tor enclosure. Also on the summit are the foundations of a mediaeval chapel, built into the side of one of the larger cairns.

  15. Cross the lane and take the footpath opposite, over the stone stile and through some trees to reach a stile.
  16. Cross the two stiles and go straight ahead across the field in the direction of the path rising on the opposite side of the valley. When you cross the brow of the hill, head to the left of the gorse bush and then towards the footbridge over the river to reach a gate.

    The huge granite crags either side of the valley are known as Devil's Jump.

    Granite is pretty hard stuff. It ranks at 7 out of 10 on the Mohs hardness scale. It's harder than normal steel but not quite as hard as hardened steel (which is 7-8). Cutting on granite worktops is therefore not a good idea as knife blades become blunt quickly.

  17. Go through the gate and cross the bridge. Bear left for a couple of paces to reach a junction of paths. Follow the path leading uphill until it ends on a track.

    The river appears not to be named on any maps but is mentioned in some places as the "Hannon River". This may be a corruption of Henon - a small settlement that the walk passes through later on. The river is a fairly major tributary of the Camel, collecting water from Stannon Moor and beneath Roughtor. It is joined by the overflow from Crowdy Reservoir at the top of the valley.

  18. Turn left onto the track and follow it to a fork. Keep right at the fork and continue uphill to a waymarked opening into a field.

    In 1988 at the water treatment works at Crowdy Reservoir, aluminium sulphate (which is used in very small quantities to remove suspended particles as part of the water treatment process) was accidentally poured from a tanker into the wrong hatch. Rather than going into a storage tank it went directly into the drinking water for 20,000 - 30,000 people and resulted in Britain's worst mass poisoning incident. One the contamination was discovered, the water supply was flushed into rivers feeding into the River Camel which resulting in the deaths of 60,000 salmon and trout. Fortunately the fish population has recovered since then and the Camel river system now has very good water quality and fish stocks.

  19. Turn left and follow the left hedge to a waymarked opening.

    The Birdsfoot Trefoil has yellow flowers tinged with red that look like little slippers and appear in small clusters. They are followed by seed pods that look distinctly like bird's feet or claws. Common names referring to the flowers include "Butter and Eggs", "Eggs and Bacon" and "Hen and Chickens", and to the seed pods, the delightful "Granny's Toenails".

    It is a member of the pea family and is poisonous to humans (containing glycosides of cyanide) but not to grazing animals and can be grown as a fodder plant. It is the larval food plant of many butterflies and moths including the common blue and silver-studded blue, and an important nectar plant for many bumblebee species.

  20. Go through the gap and head towards the top right corner to reach a waymarked gate in the far hedge.

    Betony is a grassland herb, common on the coast, with pretty purple anthers that stick out from the plant. The name is derived from the ancient Celtic words bew (meaning head) and ton (meaning good) as it was used as a cure for headaches. From Roman times onward, it was believed to be a cure for a number of things (the Romans listed 47!) including drunkenness; even as late as the 1800s, Richard E. Banks stated that you should "Eat betony or the powder thereof and you cannot be drunken that day" and John Gerard (1597) said that "It maketh a man to pisse well". Betony was also used to ward away evil spirits (hence it is planted in a number of churchyards) and also to make a dark yellow dye for wool.

    As you approach the gateway on the far side of the field, there are nice views of Devil's Jump crag on your left.

  21. Go through the gateway and head towards a wooden post in the far right corner of the field to reach a gateway.

    Bracken is both poisonous and carcinogenic to many grazing animals which will avoid it if at all possible. Eating bracken is not recommended as it is thought that the carcinogenic properties may also apply to humans based on the circumstantial evidence that Japan, where young bracken fronds are a delicacy, has the highest levels of stomach cancer in the world.

  22. Go through the gateway and turn left. Then cross the field to the gateway.

    Whereas many plants rely mainly on bitter chemicals to avoid being eaten by herbivores, thistles have gone one step further and evolved spikes. Despite this, the plants are still eaten by the caterpillars of the Painted Lady butterfly as they are rich in nutrients. The non-spiky areas of the plant such as the stem and leaf ribs can be eaten (with extreme care to avoid ingesting any harmful spikes) by people too: the ribs from the middle of the leaves are still harvested and sold in markets in some parts of the world. The flowers are rich in nectar and provide an important food source for bees and butterflies.

  23. In the last field, follow the right hedge to a gate. Go through this to emerge on a farm track.

    The farm dates to mediaeval times and was recorded in 1422 as Tor. It is thought to be a reference to the crags of Devil's Jump.

  24. Turn left on the track and follow it to where it ends in front the buildings. Then bear right to the gate of Tor Barn.

    Tors started out a lump of granite beneath the surface, which cracked vertically into squares and then part-way through horizontally to form something resembling a stuck-together stack of square pancakes. Millions of years of weathering then gradually rounded these off and widened the cracks between the layers to result in a more burger-like appearance.

    In some cases the horizontal cracks didn't go all the way through so the layers are still joined (the skewer through the brioche bun to stretch the burger analogy to its limit). In the cases where they did fully separate, a massive rocking stone such as the famous Logan Rock at Treen could be created, or the whole lot could collapse into a pile of huge rocks.

    The "basins" on the tops of some of the tors are also the result of repeated freezing and thawing of water which has collected on the surface.

  25. Go through the waymarked gate and continue between the buildings to reach a fence with a gate. Turn right before the gate to keep the fence on your left and keep following the path between the fence and wall to reach a stone stile consisting of footholds over the wall.
  26. Cross the stile and go straight ahead when you enter the field to meet the fence on the left, then follow along this to reach a wooden gate in the corner of the field.
  27. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge to a metal gate about half-way along where a small path departs into the bushes ahead.
  28. From the opening, follow the path until it ends at a gate onto a lane.
  29. Go through the gate and turn left. Follow the lane a short distance to reach a waymarked gate on the right.

    Trewint is thought to be from the Cornish for "windy farm" (the Cornish word for wind is guyns which sounds closer than it looks written down). The settlement was first recorded in 1292 but is likely date back to early mediaeval times.

  30. At the bend, go through the right hand (waymarked) gate, then through the gate immediately on the left. Follow the left hedge across the small field to a gate.

    The nutritiousness of nettle leaves makes it a preferred food plant for the caterpillars of many common butterfly species including the red admiral, tortoiseshell, peacock and comma.

  31. Go through the gate and along a short track. Just before the end of the track, climb the stone steps on the right and go through the gate into a field. Follow the left hedge to a waymarked stile in the corner of the field.

    The large trees on the opposite side of the field are oak and ash

    Ash trees can live for over 400 years and the life of the tree can be prolonged further by coppicing. Ash was traditionally coppiced to provide wood for firewood and charcoal. However, the name is nothing to do with this. It is from æsc - the old English word for spear. This comes about because ash is one of the toughest hardwoods and absorbs shocks without splintering. It is still used for making tool handles and sports equipment, including hammers, axes, spades, hockey sticks and oars.

  32. Cross the stile and bear right across the next field to a gate at the top of the far hedge.

    Buzzards breed once they reach 2-3 years old. During their breeding season in spring, male buzzards create spectacular aerial displays to impress females by soaring high into the air and dropping suddenly towards the ground. The birds then pair for life.

  33. Go through the gateway and turn immediately right to a stile. Cross this and the next stile into the field above. Then turn left and follow the left hedge to a stile fairly hidden in the bushes in the left corner, past the gateway.

    The first of these stiles has a top bar that lifts to make it a little less high to climb over.

  34. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge until you reach a waymarked stile, roughly a third of the way along.
  35. Cross the stile and head to a stile in the opposite hedge roughly ten metres to the right of the far left corner of the fence.

    The huge wayside cross in the field is known as Tresinney Cross.

    Tresinney Cross is a round-headed wayside cross in the parish of Advent. The cross is over 8ft high and has stood since Norman times beside the ancient path to Advent church.

  36. Cross the stile onto the lane, and the stile on the opposite side into a field. Cross the field to a waymarked stile on the right side of the churchyard.

    There are over four hundred complete stone crosses in Cornwall and at least another two hundred fragments.

    Crosses were sometimes used to mark sites of chapels and holy wells or as a signpost for the tracks the led to them. Often churches were later built at this holy site, resulting in the cross being within the churchyard or close by.

  37. Cross the stile on your left and go through the gate into the churchyard. Keep left along the path to reach the church entrance.

    Advent (St Adwenna's) Church is located in the parish of Advent on the north-west edge of Bodmin Moor, near Camelford. The church is dedicated to Adwen, one of the children of the legendary 5th Century Celtic king Brychan. It is notable for its high, eight-pinnacled tower which houses a ring of six bells. The church building you see today at Advent is mostly mediaeval with some Norman remnants - the greater part of the building dates from the 15th century. The interior was rebuilt when a snowstorm brought the roof down in Victorian times. The circular shape of the graveyard at Advent church suggests it dates back to Celtic times.

  38. After exploring the church, go through the black gates out of the churchyard and turn left to follow the track until it ends in a lane.

    Scholars speculate that the Celtic Cross (a crucifix with a circular ring) developed from the sun cross (a cross inside a circle), a common symbol in artefacts of Prehistoric Europe, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods. When Christianity came to the Celtic regions, Christians extended the bottom spoke of this familiar symbol, to remind them of the cross on which their new Saviour was crucified.

  39. Turn right onto the lane and follow it, passing a junction to the right, to a T-junction.

    The settlement of Tresinney was first recorded in 1320 as Tresyny. A book on Cornish Place Name Elements suggests that the "res" in the name might have been from the Cornish word ros meaning "hill spur" as the settlement is located on a topographical peninsula between 2 streams. Our suggestion is that the name may also possibly derive from the Cornish word enys - for island - which was also used at Ninnis Farm near Truro to describe it being surrounded by streams on three sides, although in this case it could also apply to the small island of land between the three roads.

  40. Turn left at the T-junction and follow the lane downhill for about quarter of a mile until you reach a public footpath sign on the left at a kink in the road.

    Crocosmia (also known as Montbretia) is a garden plant in the iris family and bright orange flowers. If has South African origins and was bred in France as a garden plant, then introduced into the UK in the 1880s.

    It has spread into the wild, particularly along the west coast of Britain and is extremely invasive. It is now a criminal offence to cause it to grow in the wild.

    Crocosmia means "saffron scent" and alludes to the smell of the dried leaves (the crocuses which produce saffron are also members of the iris family).

  41. Take the footpath to the left, up the bank and over a stile at the top. Cross the field towards the electricity pole with a loop over the top and then make for the stile when this comes into view.

    Until 2005 it was thought that grasses evolved around 10 million years after the dinosaurs became extinct, based on the earliest fossil of a grass-like plant. Consequently the BBC went to great effort to find filming locations with no grass for its ground-breaking computer animation series "Walking with Dinosaurs". Since then, fragments of a grass plant related to rice and bamboo have been found in fossilised dinosaur dung. Also the fossil remains of a rodent-like creature which appears to have grass-eating adaptations suggests that grasses could have been around as far back as 120 million years ago.

  42. Cross the stile into a field and follow the left hedge to a gateway in the left corner of the far hedge.

    Cows eat about 10kg of grass a day and a dairy cow produces around 50 pints a day on average rising to around 100 pints at their peak.

  43. Go through the gate that is facing you, ignoring the two before it on the left. Follow the left-hand hedge of the field to a gate in the far corner.

    Green dock beetles can sometimes be seen on dock plants. They have a metallic shimmer which can produce colours of gold, blue, purple, violet or red in sunlight. The sheen is produced by a stacks of microscopic reflective layers which create interference patterns in light causing different colours to appear at different angles. As the beetles mature, melanin (the "sun tan" chemical produced in humans to protect skin from the sun) pigments the layers and causes them to become reflective.

  44. Go through the gate and keep left to reach the ford. Cross the stone footbridge and follow the track to a gate on the other side.

    The ford crosses the river that you crossed earlier on the walk near Devil's Jump. A few metres downstream from the ford is the confluence with the River Camel.

    The River Camel runs for 30 miles from Bodmin Moor to Padstow Bay, making it the longest river in Cornwall after the Tamar.

    The River Camel is classed as a SSSI and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EC Habitats Directive. The river is a breeding ground for otters, Atlantic salmon and bullhead (a small fish that looks a bit like a blenny but is more closely related to lionfish and scorpionfish).

  45. From the gate, follow the track to reach a concrete area between buildings. Continue across this and up the stony track on the other side until you reach a barn on your right near the top of the hill.

    The valley with Devil's Jump has been recorded as the "Hannon" valley but is probably more correctly Henon valley after the settlement of Henon. Henon itself was recorded in 1201 as Hethenant. The name is thought to be from the Cornish words hetch (meaning either "barley" or "peace") and nans (valley). "Peaceful valley" is probably the most likely gist as the north-facing position of Henon is not a good location for arable crops.

  46. At the barn, bear left onto a narrow path and follow this to a gate.
  47. Go through the gate and bear right into a field. Follow the right-hand hedge until you reach a fence with a gate and a stile to the left of it.

    Carwether Village is the remains of a mediaeval hamlet, covering about one hectare of a hillside to the north of St Breward. It consisted of three longhouses, several ancillary buildings and some paddocks or garden plots. The buildings are arranged randomly along the valley side. Traces of ridge and furrow cultivation can be seen and the settlement is surrounded by an extensive strip field system.

  48. Go through the gate, then turn left and follow the fence to reach a stone wall with a waymark indicating the position of the stile.

    In mediaeval times, the Anglo-Saxon "stitch meal" technique was adopted in some parts of Cornwall. This involved dividing arable and meadow land into long strips called "stitches". Villagers would be allocated a (usually disconnected) set of strips so that the "best" fields were shared around as evenly as possible. The long, thin shape was ideal for ploughing with oxen. A typical stitch was one furlong in length and one acre in area, which could be ploughed by a team of oxen in a day.

    A similar, but not identical, system of strip fields known as "burgage" plots was also used in mediaeval times but these were associated with a row of houses along a road in a settlement. The burgage plots were effectively very long, thin back gardens that also contained about an acre of cultivatable land.

  49. Cross the wall via the stone stile, and bear left uphill slightly to follow along the edge of the gorse and reach another stile over a wall.

    Looking across the barren granite landscape of Bodmin Moor, it may seem strange that so many settlements can be found here from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. About 10,000 years ago, Bodmin Moor was almost entirely covered in forest, and the Neolithic tribes would have lived in forest clearings. During the Bronze Age, the majority of forest was cleared for farmland. The burning and grazing, over several thousand years, has resulted in poor soils which are naturally quite acidic due to the granite rocks. This, together with the exposure to the wind, is why the few trees on the moor today are generally stunted.

  50. Climb the wall via the stile, and head straight across the field to a granite post in the direction of the church tower on the skyline.
  51. From the granite post, keep heading for the church until you can see the barn. Then head to the waymarked gate on the left of the barn.

    Granite mostly contains slightly acidic chemical compounds, and consequently there is nothing to neutralise acids arising from plant decay and carbon dioxide dissolved in rainwater, resulting in acidic moorland soils.

  52. Go through the gate and follow the track away from the farm, past some animal pens. Before the track bends to the left, bear right to the rightmost gateway which is waymarked.

    Although it's obvious that you should ensure any gates that you open, you also close, what about gates you find that are already open?

    If the gate is fully open then leave it alone as it may well be providing livestock access to a water supply, and by closing it you could end up killing them.

    If the gate is ajar or swinging loose and not wedged or tied open then it's likely that the gate was left open by accident (possibly by another group of walkers). Properly closing the offending gate behind you will not only bring joy to the landowner but you can feel good about saving lives in a car swerving to avoid a cow in the road.

  53. Go through the gate and follow the left wall of this field until you see a gate in the bottom hedge; then make for this.

    Clover is a native plant and a member of the legume (pea and bean) family. It is also sown as a fodder crop and as "green manure" as it improves soil fertility. The two most common species are known simply as white clover and red clover, based on the colour of their flowers, with the latter generally being a slightly larger plant. Red clover leaves also have a white V shape.

  54. Go through the gateway onto a track. Turn right and follow the track until it ends in a T-junction with the road.

    Hematethy was first recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 as the manor of Hamotedi. The name is thought to be from the Cornish word havos meaning "summer dwelling". The implication is that settlement was initially a summer camp that gradually became a year-round dwelling. Eventually it became an extensive manor with a mediaeval chapel. Map evidence suggest that the original settlement might have been at Lower Hematethy and the larger Hematethy came into being during Victorian times.

  55. Turn left onto the road and follow it around the hairpin bend to the right and up the hill to where a track leaves from a grassy triangle the right, marked with a dead end sign with an attached gritting box.

    Where tracks met in a T-junction, this presented a challenge for horses and carts as these didn't have a tight turning circle. The triangular islands often visible on junctions of tracks and small lanes today were formed by the cartwheels cutting the corners of the junction. Eventually these cut corners were formalised as surfaced tracks with a grassy triangular island in the centre.

  56. Turn right and follow the track until you reach a waymarked footpath on the left, just before the house.

    The common earthball is a woodland fungus that looks a bit like a scaly white or pale yellow potato and its external appearance could be confused with a small puffball fungus.

    Earthballs have a slightly different approach to release their spores than puffballs. When mature, puffballs have a central opening in the top through which the spores puff out. With the earthball, the surface of the cap ruptures when the spores are ready to release.

    Since puffballs are edible and earthballs are poisonous, it is a common offender for stomach upsets arising from misidentification. This might seem strange as puffball flesh is pure white whereas the internal earthball flesh is dark (purple/brown/black) when mature. The potential for confusion arises because when very young, the earthball flesh is pale.

  57. Turn left and follow the path along the wall to a pedestrian gate. Go through this and keep following the path along the wall to reach a stile.

    Some estimates suggest the UK has up to half of the world's total bluebell population; nowhere else in the world do they grow in such abundance. However, the poor bluebell faces a number of threats including climate change and hybridisation from garden plants. In the past, there has also been large-scale unsustainable removal of bulbs for sale although it is now a criminal offence to remove the bulbs of wild bluebells with a fine up to £5,000 per bulb!

    As the name suggests, Wood Sorrel grows in shady places and as it spreads slowly it is used as an indicator of ancient woodland. It is recognisable by a carpet of bright green leaves that look a bit like clover. It is said that St Patrick used the three-lobed leaves to illustrate the Holy Trinity and therefore it's one of the plants dedicated to him and collectively known as "shamrock". Around Easter, wood sorrel produces delicate white flowers which gives rise to its European common name of Alleluia.

    The leaves and flowers fold up at night and reopen each morning, and they do the same during rain. This is a protection mechanism to avoid damage to the leaves when there is no solar power available, or pollen being knocked out of the flowers by the rain.

  58. Cross the stile and carry on to the end of the wall. Then continue ahead a few more paces to reach a waymark at a junction of paths.

    During periods of cold weather, spring flowers, such as bluebells, have already started the process of growth by preparing leaves and flowers in underground bulbs during summer and autumn. They are then able to grow in the cold of winter, or early spring, by using these resources stored in their bulb. Once they have flowered, the leaves die off and the cycle begins again.

    Other species (such as cow parsley or dandelions) require warm weather before they are able to germinate and grow. With the warmer springs induced by climate change, bluebells lose their "early start" advantage, and can be out-competed.

  59. At the waymark, bear left (not right, in the direction indicated). Then bear left again onto a path leading uphill and follow this until you reach a stone stile.
  60. Cross the stile and walk across the small enclosure to a gate on the other side.

    The noise that grasshoppers make is created by rubbing their hind legs against their wings. Crickets do something similar at night but just by rubbing their wings together.

    Grasshoppers "sing" for a number of reasons which include staying connected socially and sometimes simply because they are happy. Bad weather leads to grumpy grasshoppers and less singing.

  61. Go through the two gates and continue a short distance to a path. Turn left and follow the winding path across the common to emerge onto a lane.

    St Breward is on the northwest side of Bodmin moor and the parish covers both Roughtor and Brown Willy. The name of the village is said by some to come from the 6th century Cornish Saint Branwalader. Others say it is from a 13th century bishop of Exeter. Previously the village was called Simonward which, according to legend, was the name of the brewer to King Arthur's household although that might have been concocted in the Old Inn after a few ales.

  62. Turn right on the lane, towards the church and pub to complete the circular route.

    The Old Inn in St Breward dates back to the 11th Century when it provided shelter for the monks who built the neighbouring church, and claims to be Cornwall's highest Inn. There is an open fire in winter in the 11th Century granite fireplace. The pub was used as the setting for the TV comedy drama, Doc Martin, when the baby was born to the main characters.

Help us with this walk

You can help us to keep this walk as accurate as it possibly can be for others by spotting and feeding back any changes affecting the directions. We'd be very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • Any stiles, gates or waymark posts referenced in the directions which are no longer there
  • Any stiles referenced in the directions that have been replaced with gates, or vice-versa

Take a photo and email contact@iwalkcornwall.co.uk, or message either IWalkCornwall on facebook or @iwalkc on twitter. If you have any tips for other walkers please let us know, or if you want to tell us that you enjoyed the walk, we'd love to hear that too.

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