(Photo by Kevin Walsh)
This is an Area of outstanding Natural Beauty in Cornwall and is a world heritage site. The moor has many hundreds of miles of trails which are available to everyone. There is a great amount of heritage that Bodmin moor holds dear. This landscape has been home to humans for years, all the way back to the dawn of time. In more recent times the tin mines have left long scars and cuts on the land where they have dug down and along the surface of tin deposits.
The Siblyback Lake has a 3.5 mile "Round the lake" walk and not far away there is a great walk through woodland to Golitha Falls.
Walking in the Moor
Much of the moor land has open access status that means members of the public have the right to walk freely within designated areas without having to stick to laid out paths, giving walkers the freedom to explore inaccessible places. As you walk through this ancient place you will see many marks on the land that have been left by the centuries that man has inhabited the moor.
Legends and Literature
Dozmary Pool is the lake that the faithful Sir Bedivere returned King Arthur’s sword to. For centuries the lake and moor has collected many stories that are associated to King Arthur giving this land a regal and mystical feel.
(Photo by treehouse1977)
There are ghosts that lurk here as well. One is Jan Tregeagle, an unpopular 17th century steward who was condemned for eternity to empty the bottomless pool with a leaking shell. On the other side of the moor stands the stone circle of The Hurles, it is said that it’s a man frozen in time for playing sports on the Sabbath.
Other legends that are associated with the moor are the smugglers of the Jamaican Inn, plying their illicit trade in 1700s. Also in E.V.Thompson’s “Catch the Wind” it focuses on the moor from the point of view of the mining families in the 19th century.
There is a monument to Charlotte Dymond marking the sport where her murdered body was found in 1844, not only that a young Matthew Weeks was hanged at Bodmin Gaols for a crime that he did not commit.
Landscape and Wildlife
The granite Tors have been weathered into precarious towers of rock
– chief amongst them is the extraordinary Cheesewring which is something you have got to see when visiting Bodmin moor. These unique stones are home to ravens, fens, lichens and mosses. While on the clitter-stewn slopes below linnets and stonechats thrive amongst the gorse and stunted thorn trees.
The moor land is made up from mash land and mires so be care if you’re a walker as this can trip you up if your not paying attention. Here there is a wide selection of rare plants including bog orchids, coral necklace and needle spike-rush. When you get up to the higher grassland, Golden plover and curlew prefer it with Skylarks flying amongst the grass.
There are many bat roosts- including the rare lesser and greater Horseshoe bats that spend there day hanging in the wooded river valleys and disused mine shafts. The two rivers that run through the moor are the D Lank and Fowey rivers, they are nationally important rivers for otters that occupy the water. Just up the river is Golitha Falls National Nature Reserve where apart from the water fall you may get a glimpse of the spotted woodpecker and grey wagtail.
One creature that you should always look out for is the Beast of Bodmin – some people say it’s a puma or maybe a panther but others say it’s a mythical beast that is like nothing else.
When you climb to the summit of Stowe’s hill you will have left the 21st century behind you. For more than 6000 years man has lived on this land and you can see this evidence on every Tor and valley that you see. When you visit try and imagine the landscape as described below.
The view over the moor would have been very different in 4000BC. Oak trees would fill the valleys and much of the exposed moor land would be covered with hazel scrubland. As man began building various items, wood was the main structural element so the forests where cut down to use in buildings,
boats pretty much anything of that age.
Metal tools where replacing stone tools after 2500BC and man was no longer building just for shelter, but also for rituals. All over the South West teams of labourers erected circles of standing stones “The Hurles” and these were used for important occasions. To the south of Bodmin Moor is the chieftain’s burial mound of Rillation Barrow; inside is a stone cist containing a skeleton, bronze dagger and a ribbed cup of gold.
In 1000Bc the Moor was being farmed extensively with thousands of thatched round houses, with outbuildings and walled fields. There was a change, with the climate getting colder and the soil not being so fertile the farmers where abandoning the moor,
so it was only used for summer grazing.
In the middle ages a few farmers returned to the moor but they where farming strip fields, today they can clearly be seen on Bray Down and Brown Willy with many of the farms being occupied into the 21st century.
In the Mid 18th century the moor began to fill with men starting to dig for tin and copper. It first started with surface and then went on to deep shaft mining for Phoenix and Carbon in the 19th century. Cheesewring quarry workers mined up until the 1930’s.
Bodmin Moor is still used as farm land for grazers to come and live on through out he year and apart from that it is a multi use trail for walkers, cyclists and horse riders. There is a 60 mile circular walk along footpaths, tracks and lanes around the whole of Bodmin moor. It leads you through the remains of the Cornish hard rock mine industry and has now been given a world heritage status.
This Moor truly has stood against the test of time. Over the century’s this moor has witnessed the rise and fall of many men and will do long into the future.
Although the moor appears wild, it is a part of managed farm land so please help to protect Bodmin Moor. Guard against risk of fire, leave gates as found, keep dogs under control and disturbance to a minimum.