CORNWALL WALKS TO...BODMIN MOOR
PUBLISHED: 15:37 27 July 2015 | UPDATED: 13:00 30 August 2017
Discover Bodmin Moor's ancient past and its recent industrial history on this figure of eight walk near Bodmin
Join ROBERT HESKETH in a walk through thousands of years of Cornish history and heritage,
Discover Bodmin Moor’s ancient past and its recent industrial history on this fine figure of eight walk. During the Victorian copper boom 4,000 miners toiled around Caradon and Minions and the area was loud with the gasps and whistles of engines, the pounding of stamps and the shouts of men.
Now silence punctuated with birdsong predominates, but the Cornish miners have left many stark reminders of their tough and dangerous working life. Ruined engine houses, chimneys, tramways and spoil tips litter the landscape around Minions, eloquent memorials to Cornwall’s pioneering place in hard rock mining, when Cornish mine engines and engineers were internationally renowned.
Also en route is Cheesewring Quarry, which supplied stone for local mine buildings, plus London’s Westminster and Tower Bridges. These works took a massive chunk out of Stowe’s Hill. Fortunately the Early Neolithic (c4000-3500 BC) enclosures above survive. So too does the Cheesewring, a 6m tall granite pile sculpted by wind and weather and so called because of its fancied resemblance to a cheese press. Nearby is Gumb’s Cave, where stone cutter and self-taught astronomer Daniel Gumb (1703-73) lived with his wife and nine children – though room must have been tight!
Possibly Gumb was drawn here by the Hurlers, three Bronze Age stone circles, which Alexander Thom asserts were aligned with the sun and the stars Vega and Arcturus. Legend has it the Hurlers were men petrified as punishment for hurling on the Sabbath, whilst the nearby standing stones called the Pipers were men similarly punished for impiously playing tunes on a Sunday.
Distance: 11.4km/7 1/4 miles
Time: 3 1/2 hours
Points of Interest
• Splendid moorland views
• Industrial history: mines, engine houses, chimneys, railways and quarries.
• Minions Heritage Centre with displays and finds.
• Hurlers Bronze Age stone circles.
• Cheesewring and Neolithic enclosures on Stowe’s Hill.
Boots on? Let’s go!
1. Take the track signed 'Hurlers' from the car park. Reaching the Hurlers, follow the rough path north north-east to Rillaton Barrow, a Bronze Age tomb that yielded a skeleton, dagger and golden cup (the tomb’s carefully placed granite slabs are on the eastern side of the barrow at SX26034 71921).
2. Continue on the path, veering north north-west to cross the sunken trackbed of Liskeard and Caradon Railway (1844-1917). Starting from Kilmar Tor, this carried ores and stone to Moorswater for onward transport to Looe harbour, via the Liskeard and Looe Union Canal – later superseded by the Liskeard and Looe Railway. Continue to Gumb’s Cave, which lies near the western lip of the quarry, just below the Cheesewring. Hike carefully over boulders to the Cheesewring. Explore Stowe’s Hill and its two stone enclosures. Retrace your steps to the Cheesewring.
3. Continue past Gumb’s Cave around the lip of the quarry to a track crossing. Turn left towards Caradon mast. Continue downhill to a stony track. Bear right onto the railway track with its stone sleepers. Follow it as it slopes gently downhill.
4. At end of the track, bear right to Houseman’s Engine House, with its fascinating local historical and geological finds and displays. Continue west to the Hurlers. Retrace your steps to the start for the second (longer) loop of this walk. Turn left out of the car park. Walk 100m along the road. Turn right onto a public footpath just before the Cheesewring Hotel – or stop for refreshment. Continue through a gate and along the stone sleepers of the old railway track. Continue past a wind turbine, through cuttings to a stile.
5. Cross the stile. Turn immediately left down stone steps. Cross the small valley. Bear right to an engine house. Continue ahead on the same course to a track. Divert 100m right to Jope’s Shaft, with its engine house and chimney.
6. Return to the track. Follow it east and uphill between ruined buildings. Continue east on a broad track past mine tips to the car park at Tokenbury Corner.
7. Turn left onto a track parallel to the road, then left and uphill towards (but not as far as) a house. Turn right past a mine tip. Join another former railway track. When it forks, take the upper track. Walk gently uphill for 2km. Continue past two engine houses and then along the embankment to a road. Turn left and follow the road to the start.