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Discover the county of Cornwall with a Cicerone Guidebook - Sample Route

Cover of Walking in Cornwall
8 May 2015
17.2 x 11.6 x 1.0cm
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Walking in Cornwall

by Graham Uney
Book published by Cicerone Press

This guidebook includes routes to 40 day walks in Cornwall. From short, easy strolls to longer, wilder routes, there is plenty to appeal to both families and experienced walkers. The walks explore the interior and coasts, including walks through picturesque villages, old tin-mining areas and the Lizard and Land's End Peninsulas.

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40 half to full day rambles on the coasts and inland hills of Cornwall are explored in this guidebook.  Routes range from short, 2 mile strolls to long, wild walks of over 8 miles. With plenty of opportunities to combine routes together, this guide provides a wealth of variety for walkers of all abilities.

The guidebook is divided into 6 sections, including walks on Bodmin Moor (for which good navigational skills are required), the North Coast, Penwith and West Cornwall, the Inland Mining Districts, Land's End and the Lizard and Roseland Peninsulas. 

Cornwall has a lot to offer walkers; stunning coastal scenery and long stretches of wild moorland, with quiet estuaries cutting through high and rocky headlands. Birdlife and wildlife, from choughs to falcons to seals are found throughout the county, as are historical sites from the neolithic, to Iron Age hill forts and a long history of mining. The towns and villages of Cornwall, from the popular spots such as St Ives, Newquay and Padstow, to quiet inland hamlets and tucked away fishing villages are also included and provide perfect bases for going out to explore the country.

Alongside the 40 walking routes, this guidebook also includes plenty of practical information on getting to and around Cornwall, as well as details on each walk's distance, timing, terrain, ascent and nearest town. Throughout the walk descriptions, there are details of places of interest along the way, as well as annotated OS maps and stunning photography. The result is an ideal companion to stepping out and exploring the best of Cornwall.

  • Activities
    Day walks, both coastal and inland
  • Seasons
    There really isn't an off-season in Cornwall. The coastal walks are great at any time of year, as are the archaeological sites. Only Bodmin Moor is best left for the summer months.
  • Centres
    Good bases are St Just, St Ives, Porthleven, St Agnes, St Austell, Padstow, Boscastle and Bude.
  • Difficulty
    Most of the routes in this book are short easy walks following obvious paths and tracks, although a handful are more challenging. Walking boots and waterproofs are necessary, especially on exposed cliff-top walks, and for all the routes on Bodmin Moor.
  • Must See
    Explore the amazing cliff-top paths of the Cornish coast. Discover signs of ancient man at scores of archaeological sites. Uncover the history of the Cornish tin mines. Stride out across the wildest parts of Bodmin Moor.
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Industrial heritage
Cornish language
Cornish fare
Getting there
Getting around
When to go
Information sources
Using this guide
Bodmin Moor
Walk 1 The Hurlers and the Cheesewring
Walk 2 Twelve Men’s Moor and Trewortha Village
Walk 3 Brown Willy from Priddacombe Downs
Walk 4 Brown Willy from Garrow Downs
Walk 5 Brown Willy and the source of the River Fowey
Walk 6 Rough Tor and Brown Willy from the north
Walk 7 Bray Down and Leskernick Hill
The North Coast
Walk 8 Sharpnose Point from Coombe
Walk 9 Crackington Haven to Dizzard Point
Walk 10 The Strangles and Cambeak
Walk 11 Boscastle
Walk 12 Tintagel and Willapark
Walk 13 Around Port Isaac Bay
Walk 14 Pentire Point
Walk 15 Stepper Point
Walk 16 Trevose Head
Walk 17 Kelsey Head and Cubert Common
Walk 18 St Agnes Head and Beacon
Walk 19 Godrevy Point, Navax Point and Hudder Down
Penwith and West Cornwall
Walk 20 The Hayle Estuary Nature Reserves
Walk 21 Wicca Pool and Zennor Head
Walk 22 Zennor Hill
Walk 23 Gurnard’s Head
Walk 24 Hannibal’s Carn, the Nine Maidens and Mên-an-Tol
Walk 25 Chûn Quoit and Castle
Walk 26 Pendeen Watch and the Levant Mines
Walk 27 The Kenidjack Valley and Cape Cornwall
Walk 28 The Cot Valley from St Just
The Inland Mining Districts
Walk 29 The Porkellis Engine Houses
Walk 30 Carn Brea and Piece
Walk 31 Redruth and Gwennap Pit
Land’s End
Walk 32 Carn Brea, Carn Euny, and Bartinney Downs
Walk 33 Sennen Cove and Land’s End
Walk 34 Around Gwennap Head and Porthcurno
Walk 35 Lamorna Cove and Valley from Mousehole
The Lizard and Roseland Peninsulas
Walk 36 Porthleven and Trewavas Head
Walk 37 Halzephron Cliffs from Cury
Walk 38 Mullion Cove and Predannack Head
Walk 39 Around the Lizard from Cadgwith
Walk 40 Zone Point
Appendix A Route summary table
Appendix B Useful contacts

Sample Route

Brown Willy and the source of the River Fowey
Start/finishPark by the Penpont Water just south of Bowithick hamlet (SX 183 826)
Distance5¾ miles/9.25km
Total ascent850ft/260m
TerrainRough pathless moorland, very boggy in places; good navigation skills essential
MapOS Explorer 109 Bodmin Moor
Nearest townCamelford

This walk is ideal for those who really want to get into the wildest parts of Bodmin Moor. Note that the route is pathless throughout, and so is only really suitable for those who know how to take and follow compass bearings.

Start from the bend in the road on the south side of the Penpont Water, from where a track heads southwest through some marshy ground towards Buttern Hill. Follow this track to where it passes through an old boundary and bears sharply left. At this point you should abandon the comfort of the track and head just south of west above a spring and some old mine adits. To your left you’ll see a broad gully, from which the spring emerges; climb round the northwest side of this, then head more directly towards the summit of Buttern Hill at 346m.

If you’re finding the going wet and difficult at this stage, it is probably wise to turn back. To continue westwards to Brown Willy and the source of the Fowey is to get further into the wildest parts of the moor. If the ground underfoot is reasonably dry, and your navigation skills are up to the task, soak up the views from Buttern Hill then head west down to a broad (and occasionally damp) col at spot height 298m (SX 168 815).

The ground rises to the southwest in a gentle gradient, and you should aim for the cairns on High Moor at 354m, then descend just 12m (in altitude) to the southwest to gain the northern slopes of Brown Willy. Climb steeply but easily up the north ridge of Brown Willy to the summit cairn and triangulation pillar.

Brown Willy’s summit ridge from the approach over High Moor

The route on from the summit lies to the east. You may want to divert from the route slightly to explore the summit ridge to the south, and the second ancient cairn. Take a bearing down to Fowey Well, and then follow a compass bearing to the northeast across the moor to the source of the River Fowey.

The Upper Fowey is a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its wet heath vegetation and herbaceous valley mires. Plants to look out for here are sundews and butterworts, both of which are fascinating to find and thrive in very poor soils. Plants that do well in our uplands have evolved to cope with the typically acidic, nutrient-poor soils, so that for the most part only those species that can tolerate these conditions live there. The exceptions are sundews and butterworts, which take their nutrients from insects. They catch tiny insects on their leaves by attracting them with a sweet, sticky substance. Once the insect is caught, the plant slowly devours it.

As you approach the source of the Fowey, predictably the ground is going to get a bit wetter. Pick a careful way through the bog and you’ll find a little pool, seemingly among many others, where this major Cornish river begins its life. Cross to the east side of the valley, and walk around the southern slopes of Buttern Hill (or climb back over the hill if you prefer). Once you have made it safely around to the east side of Buttern Hill walk north down the broad valley that lies between Buttern Hill to the west and Bray Down to the east (see Walk 11). At the bottom of the valley you will reach the road where your car is parked.

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