Thursday, 5 March 2015

The Getaway - Part I

- March -

Lambing season - Dogs on leads please!                  Swaling in progress - Stay well away!
Ground nesting birds - Do not disturb!

Phew! Well... I didn't want to visit Dartmoor anyway...

This month I have decided to escape from the normal haunts and hidey-holes.  To explore the nation, and try letterboxing in other UK hotspots.

Yesterday was the turn of Bodmin Moor.  For me, no trip to Dartmoor is possible without a drive over this patch of green.  On the A30 approach to Jamaica Inn, my eyes are always drawn North towards the highest and steepest visible land.  These are Rough (pronounced Row - this is Cornwall) Tor and the absurdly named Brown Willy - it's Cornish name is Bronn Wennili or 'Hill of Swallows'.  I will point out, steep and high are both relative.  Brown Willy is about as lofty as Cramber Tor, and about as steep as Leather Tor.  Not to poo-poo the peak though: Kernow's highest point puts it high in the English County-Top league table.  Ranked at number 13 in fact, just behind Worcestershire Beacon.

So having stared it from behind the wheel so much, it seemed appropriate to actually visit this mysterious moor with my walking boots on.  I parked at a sizeable car park at the end of Roughtor Road - at the end of a cul-de-sac that leads straight out of Camelford.  The view from here is dominated by a ridge with three rocky Tors atop - these being Showery Tor, Little Rough Tor and Rough Tor.

There have been letterboxes on Bodmin Moor for many years.  My OS map (from 2003) actually has one marked on Brown Willy's summit.  Though this is no longer the case (though there is a geocache there instead!).  I did have a handful of boxes to find courtesy of The Stationary Traveller's excellent off-Dartmoor letterbox list at Gamblenet.  With the first on the list on Showery Tor, it was to this outcrop that I headed first.

The scenery, though fabulous, was unfamiliar: factories, plantations, lakes and wind turbines pepper the surrounding landscape.  The geology and ecology were very familiar.  Very Western upland: granite, stubby grass, heather and gorse.  This was generally undisturbed ground.  Logan stones un-tipped.  Some densely vegetated slopes and generally few paths.

Missing letterboxes however suggest there is one thing in common with the Devon moor next-door.  I left Showery Tor bereft of any stamps,  though the next destination was clear.  Brown Willy loomed in the East (giggle).  There is no Dartmoor peak like this.  A stand-alone hill, an airy ridge.  A site of Special Scientific Interest, with remnants of prehistoric human habitation low down on both East and West sides.  Plus letterboxes, some of which were on site!  A great, historic spot to visit, and I highly recommend it.  I returned to the car via Rough Tor.  Many other walkers were enjoying the scenery and the great weather.  Or perhaps they were preparing for St Piran's Day. Cornwall's patron saint would be very proud of this place.  I like it a lot, and I hope to return again soon.  

Next week: The Lake District.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Lovely weather and scenery