Bodmin Moor, Rough Tor and Brown Willy

Somewhere different this week and one I was looking forward to. It was about time I headed to the highest point in Cornwall, for some reason I had never made it this far north on Bodmin Moor but today was about putting that right. I’d previously walked around the Minions area of Bodmin Moor, which is a fine area, loads to see and some mighty tors. For some reason the tor outcrops on Bodmin are far larger than those on Dartmoor. I’m thinking specifically of Bearah Tor and Kilmar Tor. Well I can add Brown Willy and especially, Rough Tor to that list. Huge outcrop, enormous boulders, stacked high with big drop offs. That said there is a problem with this part of Bodmin Moor, fences and a lack of a path. The fences are everywhere, criss-crossing what is an open access moorland area, which is more than you can say for the paths. There are gates in the fences but they tend to be located away in the distance and clearly placed to make walking and creating a route more difficult. The signs claim the fences are to stop the farm animals from wandering too far, but some of the gates on a clear path were locked and the only real proper path was between Rough Tor and Brown Willy in truth and whilst parts are owned by the National Trust, its clear that the farmers rule here. It leaves you a bit disappointed in what should be an enjoyable walking area. So for me the better part of Bodmin Moor is around the Cheesewring and Minions area.

Start – Jamaica Inn roadside parking

Route – Codda – Tolborough Tor – Codda Tor – Pete’s Rock – Brown Willy – Maiden Tor – De Lank river – Showery Tor – Little Rough Tor – Rough Tor – Rough Tor Stone Circle – Brown Willy – Catshole Tor – Jamaica Inn roadside parking

Distance – 10.5 miles    Start time – 9.30am    Time taken – 6hrs Highest Point – Brown Willy 420 metres

Weather – Sunshine and lots of it, warmer eventually but very breezy

© Crown copyright 2021 Ordnance Survey FL 2021 SF
I’d found a nice little bit of roadside parking. The A30 and Jamaica Inn junction is about 100 metres to the right here. Hendra Downs is in the distance and the A30 itself on the right
Tolborough Tor. I’m following the road to Codda
Leskernick Hill in the centre with Codda Tor on the hill on the left. I was heading there first however at this point it was clear that there was no way through the patchwork of fields. I decided to ascend Tolborough Tor first to get a better vantage
Looking back down towards Codda as I climb
On Tolborough Tor now looking to Colliford reservoir with Brown Gelly, the hill behind
First proper look at Brown Willy from here. I could see from here that a huge fence, went 90 degrees across me and then headed for Brown Willy. I saw a path descending Tolborough Tor towards the fence so followed it. As it turned out I should have gone away left to the corner where there was a series of gates which would have put me in the right enclosure. As it was I hopped the fence instead
Codda Tor looking north
There’s a rocky outcrop between me and Brown Willy. And as it turned out two more fences, one with a gate, one with no sign of one, and probably would require me returning back to the fence in the corner near Tolborough Tor about a km back the way I’d come. I hopped the fence again.
Pete’s Rock, and the first semblance of a path leading from here to a gate in a fence and on to Brown Willy
Climbing Brown Willy, Catshole Tor is centre right and I will be there last
I had Brown Willy summit to myself, until two others turned up. By then I’d descended to the left a bit, out of the brisk wind and enjoying a coffee, biscuit and views to Rough Tor beyond the trig. Also to allow the other two to take their photos as if no others were around. They however plonked themselves by the trig and got out the refreshments. Spoiling the photo opportunity for the others who turned up after Id left.
Summit cairn and a view along the ridge
Can’t remember the name of the farm down there, but there are signs all around it saying not to enter. I’m guessing they may be one of the fence erectors in this area. I’m looking west here across some fine scenery
Maiden Tor is a little outcrop which is worth the detour away from the busier Rough Tor – Brown Willy path. Rough Tor is on the left beyond the outcrop and Showery Tor to the right
The valley holds the nicely named De Lank River, the tor in the distance is Garrow Tor
On Showery Tor now, Brown Willy left and Rough Tor right. Little Rough Tor is the left outcrop on the right, with Rough Tor the right outcrop on the right. Clear? Good!
Showery Tor has a lovely weathered outcrop reminiscent of the Cheesewring and all around a little wooden and metal models reminding you of the Cornish past
The lakes of the china clay workings near Highertown were more blue than the sky, which says a lot
One more look at the Showery Tor outcrop and Brown Willy in the distance
Rough Tor summit looking back to Little Rough Tor and Showery Tor behind that
All the way to the north Cornwall coast and the Atlantic Ocean
Memorial on Rough Tor
Rough Tor outcrops, again these stacks are huge
Garrow Tor in the distance and before that is the stone circle to the south of Rough Tor, heading that way next. I’d hoped to join the path behind the stone circle and walk that across towards Brown Willy. However the farm signs clearly stated no access so I retraced back to the main path between Rough Tor and Brown Willy
Rough Tor stone circle. Garrow Tor again in the distance
Plenty of signs of settlements here, Rough Tor looked massive from down here
The path that links Rough Tor and Brown Willy is on the left here. I decided to head over to the eastern side of Brown Willy and look for a path towards Catshole Tor
That path on the left heads off to Pete’s Rock, there is a narrow path heading right towards Catshole Tor. That’ll do me
The path lead to these gates and clearly this side of the gate is another path. However the gates are padlocked. Clearly someone doesn’t like walkers here. That’s Brown Willy up there
Catshole Tor
Catshole Tor looking to Brown Willy
I’m heading down to the right here as there are 3 or 4 fences meeting in a corner with a fair few gates should you need them. Middle right is Tolborough Tor and Hendra Downs on the left. The position of the gates down in the right hand corner appears to be the only way in or out of the Codda Tor enclosure that I could find, which is on my left here
Think this was called the Long stone on my GPS map. Either way that’s my last look at Brown Willy
The path back down towards the Jamaica Inn. The end of a frustrating walk, too many stupid fences and not enough gates to help you navigate. The tors are magnificent here and they deserve better in my opinion. Open access, don’t make me laugh.

9 thoughts on “Bodmin Moor, Rough Tor and Brown Willy

  1. Yep, I encountered the same problem when walking from Lanlavery Rock to Maiden Tor but elsewhere it has been a nuisance at times. What gets me is that the gate between Pete’s Rock and Brown Willy is pretty dilapidated and any farm animal could get through it. I’ve been planning Tolborough, Catshole and Codda from the south-east but may have a rethink after seeing your struggle.

    As you say, Bodmin’s tors are something else, but the awkward access to many of them is more effort than climbing the tors themselves. It makes you appreciate how easy it is to walk from one place to another on much of Dartmoor, and I wish that someday the same happens at Bodmin but it won’t. I believe the locals are highly opposed to Bodmin becoming a National Park which is why it hasn’t, and with such poorly signed and maintained rights of way in places you can see how much trouble it would cause.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Spot on Max, If the signed a couple of nice circular walks in the area provided a couple of extra, well placed gates then that would solve lots of the problems I had in this area. When you compare Bodmin to others such as Lake District, Peak District and Dartmoor it simply doesn’t deserve the tourism and will impact the locals in their pocket. However I fear that the locals are those that perhaps have moved there having made money elsewhere and don’t want the tourism to spoil the area

      Liked by 1 person

  2. There are some lovely bits, but I fear it illustrates what might have happened to Dartmoor if it hadn’t been so well guarded and became a National Park.

    Liked by 2 people

  3. Gorgeous views and scenery, such a shame it’s spoiled by inconsiderate and selfish landowners. You saw in my last post about how fragile Access Land really is.
    I’ve walked onto Rough Tor from the West as a short walk to end a coastal day on my way home from Cornwall and it’s a superb spot. Like you the area around Minions is the only other area I’ve walked and is also packed with interest stuff. Bodmin Moor has so much to offer if the locals would see sense

    Liked by 1 person

    • The locals are so opposed to it becoming a National park, I guess because at the moment they can play bully and get away with locking gates on paths plus it would open up the fences a bit to help with the access


  4. Congratulations on such an interesting and informative website !
    As a Cornishman living in Devon I’m pleased to say that I have spent considerable time walking on Dartmoor and Bodmin Moor. I must agree with your comments on accessibility on Bodmin Moor, and echo your comments on the ease of choice of walking routes on Dartmoor. I must add, however, that since the Covid outbreak Dartmoor has been overrun with campers (not wild campers!), beauty spots have been trashed with firepits, rubbish and human waste, and the fire brigade have had to deal with several moorland fires. Ancient woodlands have been vandalised as well.
    I’m not aware of many similar problems on Bodmin Moor and wonder if the problems with access could be part of the reason. Maybe we can’t always have our cake and eat it !
    Hopefully when Covid wanes we may find that more considerate people give our free spaces the respect that they deserve.
    Keep up the interesting work.

    Liked by 1 person

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