The Unexpected Bodmin Moor

This had never crossed my mind, but someone suggested that I blog about my travels / adventures. I’m little scared of this as my writing may not be of the greatest standard but I’ve decided to take the plunge.

With that in mind I was invited on holiday this past week down to beautiful East Cornwall. When I was told where I would be staying, this didn’t make my heart purr with enthusiasm. It gave me an opportunity to explore a part of my country that in my memory I had never visited. I do have memories of parts of Cornwall most recently when cycling across it as part of my Lands’ End to John O’Groats tour. I cycled across Bodmin moor on the A30. After driving this road, my heart skips a beat at how mad a thing that was. It also highlighted to me that, although I cycled through the heart of the moor, I hadn’t explored it.

On my first proper day there, I ventured nowhere near it, but took a local train down to the coast to enjoy the rare and record breaking bank holiday sunshine. My destination was Looe, a beautiful fishing town on the Cornish coast, could be described as being a typical Cornwall destination. As beautiful as this town was, bathed in sunshine and with crowds flocking to it, it had sadly lost its charm. Standing on the edge of the harbour looking back up into the town you had the beauty on one side, picturesque houses overlooking the town and down to the sea and river, but the other side of the river a commercial hub of activity that wasn’t appealing. Tourist shops overflow onto the pavements as visitors cram to get their essentials for a day at the beach, blissfully unaware of the beauty that is around them. Coming away from the Hustle and Bustle there were some beautiful narrow, winding streets, where it was lovely to walk through as you were it was great to escape knowing that you walk without getting mowed down by a car and avoid the crowds. I may have a different opinion of this town on a cooler day but, sadly, on a hot bank holiday Monday with a very hot and bothered dog I was glad to leave.

The next few days were by far my favourite; these were spent exploring Bodmin Moor. This isn’t a national Park and didn’t raise any alarm bells as a place that I must visit, but after closer inspection was stunning and that at moments took my breath away. Maybe a challenge for next year is to read an OS map so that I can plan a few more walks. Sadly, and it pains me to say it, I was left in the hands of google search and the results it delivered which were spectacular. I had a day dodging the intermittent

showers to walk the dog up Stowe’s Hill. The views from the top of this hill showed an unspoilt wilderness, stones and rocks almost camouflaged by an abundance of heather and accompanied by a lonely tree every now and again. The backdrop to this wild haven was the noticeable bits of its history dotted around.  You could actually see the history before your eyes, from the beginning of time and the ancient stones circles, to the ruins of mills used during past industrial years, but the evidence of modern industry with quarries (some of them disused) and local farm life. At the summit of the hill is “Cheesewring”, a towering formation of large rocks balanced on top of each other to provide the perfect view point. Not great with heights and with the wind blowing forcibly I managed to climb these rocks to truly appreciate the view. On returning down the hill, it was a fitting reward to indulge in a Cornish cream tea in the small village of Minions. Well deserved, and thoroughly enjoyed-did have to check with the waiter what was the correct way to eat the cream tea. He ensured us that the Cornwall way, was to spread the jam on the scone and cover this with an unhealthy helping of clotted cream.

The next day I was greeted by unexpected sunshine, going against what the weatherman had forecasted. I was not going to waste the opportunity and navigated my way to Golitha Falls. It was a pleasant surprise and great pleasure that all this was free. This put an extra spring in the step as I set off with the dog. He was in Heaven, spending a day jumping in and out of water and as for me it was likewise though I wasn’t swimming in the waterfall. As we set out the path started off naturally following the river bed, but as we got deeper into the falls it became apparent that this wasn’t going to last and that we had to make our own path. This just built up a truly wonderful experience, climbing rocks, trees, doing my best not to slip or fall over in pursuit of those perfect pictures of flowing water. It was amazing to get close and personal with this natural flow of water. Sadly, with so many waterfalls that I have visited in this country, health and safety has got involved or the opportunity to make money from it deters you from experiencing the true emotion.

The next day was an unpredictable English summer’s day which they promised to be dry in the north of the county and wet everywhere else. The best part of the day was first thing, so got the dog out and headed back to Minions to try and get a better shot of the stone circles and to allow Rolo to run around for as long as possible in the dry. For the rest of the day, I drove through the moors in search of some other ‘dry’ activities to occupy us. This lead me to find the Trevethy Quoit, Dozmary Pool, the village of St Neot, Jamaica Inn and we ended up in Bodmin. One felt the need to visit Bodmin after enjoying the beauty of Bodmin moor.

On arriving in Bodmin and being deterred by roadworks, the signs all pointed to the steam railway line. Another part of this country’s past has become a real attraction to these lands as old lines and engines are restored to give you a feel of what transport used to be like. I planned to enjoy an open-air theatre showing of Macbeth in the evening and relive some of my youth. Sadly, I never made it due to persistent rainfall.

My final day of this week, was blessed with wonderful sunshine which was surprising as we were now in the first day of autumn. I took the car, dog, camera and picnic and went off on an exploratory drive along the coast. We followed the railway line used on Monday from Liskeard down to Looe, crossed the river and climbed out of there towards Talland Bay. This was a wonderful discovery because I had followed the signs for an abbey, which on the outside proved to be disappointing. Spent an hour walking up the cliffs out of Talland bay to get a stunning view of the Cornish coastline. The picture here doesn’t do the view justice; turquoise waters; almost felt like you were in a foreign country and not England. Left here and headed towards a ferry route that was going to take me to Fowey. This was a stunning find. Immediately after the river crossing and disembarking the ferry I found a car park. Paid up, Rolo on a lead and camera in the other hand I explored, the narrow winding streets of Fowey. This was a beautiful Cornish town located on the river. I would compare it to Dartmouth in Devon, just lacking the steam train coming past every now and again. After a whistle stop tour, back to the car, and onwards towards Charlestown. On the way stopped at the top a hill to get fantastic views of the St Austell Bay and beaches whilst hoovering up a well-earned picnic. My final stop took me to Charlestown, a historic Georgian port. Beautifully maintained, although a sense of commercialism appears to be taking over. Moored in the harbour were a couple of tall ships, maybe recognisable from some TV shows. The dog didn’t appreciate the harbour as much as I did, so off we went in pursuit of some dog friendly water for him to enjoy. This gave me the fantastic view of the harbour looking down from the hill we climbed.

Any place on earth is worth exploring. This beauty, although not on my door step, was an unexpected pleasure. Cornwall is always a fantastic place if the English weather is kind to you. I managed to make the most of what weather was dealt to me. It was with a little sadness that I left to return to the daily grind. What it has done is made me appreciate more the country in which I live, and how much of it there is to explore. As someone very wisely said to me, you could spend a year’s travelling in this country and not see it all. The challenge is to ensure that I don’t leave it another year before exploring part of my country again.

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