A walking route around one of Bodmin’s prettiest villages

PUBLISHED: 14:31 29 January 2019

The church in the picturesque village Altarnun in north Cornwall. Picture by Thomas Marchhart, Getty Images

The church in the picturesque village Altarnun in north Cornwall. Picture by Thomas Marchhart, Getty Images


This walking route begins and ends at Altarnun, one of Cornwall’s prettiest villages

As well as fine views to Bodmin Moor, this walking route includes two historic bridges, 17th century Gimblett’s Mill and Laneast church, noted for wagon roof, ancient bench ends and pulpit where John Wesley preached. We begin and end at Altarnun, one of Cornwall’s prettiest villages. Its name is derived from its church’s dedication and means Altar of St Nonn. St Nonn’s is noted for its 33m (109ft) tall tower; Norman font; Celtic Cross and wonderfully carved 16th century bench ends.

As the shades of evening draw in, the 18th century King’s Head Hotel offers refreshments with a seasonally supernatural atmosphere: ‘Weird things happen here for no apparent reason,’ said landlady Mandy Bettison. ‘You can explain most of them away, but… well, let me tell you about some of them. My Aunty Judy, who ran the King’s Head for many years, often saw a little girl in a white dress. Once, Judy woke to find her sitting at the foot of her bed. A customer also saw the child late one evening, mistaking her blonde hair for my aunt’s. I told him he was mistaken – Judy had gone to bed ages before. This frightened him… he told me he was shaking like a leaf and wasn’t right for days afterwards.

‘Last time the paranormal group came to investigate they stayed overnight and the fire alarm went off twice, both times for no reason. I wasn’t best pleased by that, nor by the time all the bottles suddenly shot off the shelf in the dining room and exploded on the floor – though the customers thought this was hilarious!

‘The paranormal group invited me to join them once. A lady said she had contacted the daughter of a former landlord and began asking her all these questions using a crystal on a string, like a pendulum. She told the spirit to swing her pendulum one way for ‘yes’ and the other way for ‘no’. The lady was doing nothing more than holding the pendulum at the end of her arm, but it spun around like crazy and the lady started to cry. It was really creepy… and the lady was totally exhausted at the end of it all.

‘Strange things happen upstairs as well. We had a lady staying in room three, who was woken by six sharp taps on the window. She checked to see if it was the wind that caused the noise, but it wasn’t.

‘We had a long term resident staying in the same room, room two, who often saw a man in a black cape staring out of the window, though he never saw his face as he always had his back turned.

‘None of these things seem to put people off coming to the King’s Head,’ concluded Mandy. ‘It rather it draws them. The paranormal people, who’ve often been, tell me there are only good spirits left here at the King’s Head.’

Church of St Nonna, located in the picturesque village Altarnun in Cornwall. Picture by Thomas Marchhart, Getty ImagesChurch of St Nonna, located in the picturesque village Altarnun in Cornwall. Picture by Thomas Marchhart, Getty Images


1. Turn left out of the churchyard opposite the 15th century packhorse bridge. Follow the lane uphill out of the village. Take the first tarred lane on your right. Continue 500m to a Y junction. Do not take the footpath directly in front of you. Turn left and almost immediately right over a granite stile onto the second signed public footpath.

Follow the direction markers ahead carefully via fields, a copse and stiles to a metalled lane. Take the signed public footpath to Higher Tregunnon Farm.

2. Just beyond the farmhouse, turn left at a public footpath sign on a barn post. Cross the field to a stile.

Cross the next field and follow the steep path downhill to a lane. Turn right and follow the lane to the river Inny.

3. Continue to Laneast Church, Follow the lane for 100m to a sharp bend. Turn right at a footpath sign. Walk through the farmyard by gates and stiles. Cross the field ahead. Aim for bottom left corner of the next field. Cross the brook by a stone bridge and turn right.

The path follows stiles and fields to a lane at Trespearne. Turn right downhill to Gimblett’s Mill.

4. Cross the bridge (1847). Continue for 100m. Turn left at the public footpath sign and cross a stile. Continue to another stile. Cut half diagonally right across a field to a further stile. Follow the direction arrows across the next field. Turn right up to a green lane. Follow it left to Trethinna.

5. Turn right onto the lane and left at the T-junction. After only 20m, turn right into a footpath. Continue 300m to a waymark just before Trerithick Farm. Turn sharp right to a field gate.

The path continues over fields by gates and stiles. Follow the green lane into Trenarrett.

6. Turn left at Trenarrett and left 50m ahead onto a signed path at Little Trenarrett. Follow the path downhill to a bridge and uphill towards Oldhay. Skirt right of the farm and walk uphill to a field gate.

Continue ahead, following marker arrows over fields to Tresmaine. Follow signs through the farmyard. Take the footpath signed ‘Altarnun’ across fields and stiles. u

Fact file

Start/parking: roadside parking near Altarnun Church, SX223814

Terrain: Footpaths, bridlepaths and country lanes, generally well-marked, but attention needed to signs and map. Occasionally steep. Muddy and wet in parts after rain. Lots of stiles.

Child/dog friendly: Suitable for dogs on leads and older children

Refreshments: King’s Head Five Lanes

Public toilets: Altarnun


Distance: 10.5km (6 ½ miles)

Time: 3 ¼ hours

Exertion: Moderate

Points of interest

Fine views of Bodmin Moor

Two historic churches

Two historic bridges

Haunted King’s Head Hotel

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