Monday, 14 September 2015

Away day

Back in March I said I hoped to return to Bodmin Moor after a day's (successful) letterboxing around Cornwall highest peak, Brown Willy.  A while ago, the opportunity arose to check out the area again, this time in the company of a regular visitor.  A seasoned geocaching and letterboxing pro in the form of Steve B.  Steve lives just off the moor, and often walks these paths.  With prepared lists, plenty of local tales, and knowledge of hidden letterboxes, this day was sure to exceed March's Bodmin Moor letterbox haul of 1!

Parking up in light mist at the village of Minions, it was a surreal start to what would be a great day's letterboxing.  I'd never been to this 'Warner branded' settlement before, and I haven't letterboxed with anyone in years.  First stop was Tregarrick Tor.  I was quickly reminded of how much this place has in common with Dartmoor - bogs and streams to cross on our path.  Steve pointed out the Poldark filming location.  The track to Tregarrick played the role of "Road to Illogan" in series 1, which made me chuckle.  After success at Tregarrick Tor, we headed to the Cheesewring, which is a popular tourist attraction round these parts.  A natural rock stack that defies logic, gravity and belief atop a giant quarry.  I was in my element.  The weather was beautiful, the pace of the walk was perfect, and the Letterboxes kept coming!  We turned North towards consecutive ridges of mysterious rugged tors.  At lunch on what I learnt was the appropriately named Sharp Tor, I was introduced to Bearah Tor and Kilmar Tor and the infamous High Rock.  Letterboxes on all of them, I was told.

The afternoon was spent confirming this was true.  Bearah Tor was breathtaking in it's scale.  An elongated series of outcrops stretching almost a kilometre.  As I observed at Rough Tor in March, the landscape appeared immaculate, as if undisturbed for centuries.  I mean that on the macro scale, not just in the geological sense.  Granite had weathered, crumbled, and lay untouched in small caves. Erosion, apart from in the peat near water sources, and near gateways wasn't obvious.  Ferns, grasses, and other upland plants grew tall between boulders.  The absence of feet - human and animal - and hands (Letterboxers) was staggeringly clear.

Approaching Kilmar Tor, the legacy of the Cornish quarrying industry came into focus.  Steve pointed out perhaps the last active quarry in the region high on Bearah Tor, and then the old railway line.  I had one landmark in sight though: High Rock.  From below, it didn't look that high, but on closer inspection, this was at least as impressive as the Cheesewring.  A teetering, balanced, natural wonder on the very apex of the ridge.  That I may find a letterbox upon it's summit was the only incentive I needed!

Kilmar Tor itself is another knife edge ridge of rough granite and even rougher vegetation, with a trig point hidden among it's outcrops.  At this point, Steve and I decided to call it a day.  We walked 15 miles, and found 19 Letterboxes.  I was once again bowled over by this diminutive Moor, and am already planning my next adventure.

Cheers Steve!