A ambitious plan indeed

A typical view of the Copper Trail – muddy paths, and this is August.

This would be a day of two half and a very long one at that. In planning my walk around Bodmin Moor I had come up with a major problem insomuch that around the eastern side of the moor there were simply no buses. The only way to walk this section would be to park halfway along my route at Five Lanes and get an early start to walk the second part of my day’s walk first to Upton Cross where I hope to catch a lunchtime bus to Launceston. I would then have around three hours to kill in the town where I could have a hot lunch and visit the castle before catching an afternoon bus to Camelford and walking over twelve miles back to the car but could I do this before nightfall?

Starting out early from Wadebridge the weather was poor with plenty of showers around and with the early morning drive across Bodmin Moor on the A30, the skies now took on an angry look to the northwest. I was parked up at Five Lanes just off the A30 by 7.15am as the heavens opened and with no sign of any clearance in the near future. I sat in the car wandering what to do as to start the walk after 8am was really out of the question and I needed to get to Upton Cross prior to the 11.45am bus. This would mean a ten mile long leg of the walk but with this rain could this be the end of my adventure I thought?

By 07.30am there were signs of a clearance and so I donned full waterproof gear still wandering if I was doing the right thing. In five minutes I was off walking along a very wet road. Once under the A30 I followed a lane then a field path which was well signed, but I soon encountered a restless herd of cattle and a black bull. I diverted to follow the edge of the field to the next lane where I headed through the hamlet of Trenilk. Here I had problems with dogs but thankfully I was through the farm and heading out across the next field only to find another herd of restless cows. Escaping into the next field I came face to face with another herd of heifers that immediately took off to stampede up and down the field. I kept them at bay with under arm movements and shouting. I had hardly done a mile and I hoped this wasn’t the norm on this walk. Why was it that Cornish cattle seemed to stampede as soon as a walker entered a field? I put it down to the fact that the cattle hardly ever saw anyone. I was glad to join the lane at Tregenna, however I had more fields to cross and thankfully only horses grazing peacefully. With all the recent rain the ground was so wet and waterlogged and with the frequent showers I often had to get the map out at a spot with shelter then memorize the route. It wasn’t that easy today as I crossed several small fields. The route through Treberland wasn’t that clear and I soon entered a forested area which was overgrown with wet bracken which virtually hid the path. Thankfully I reached Newton at the right spot.

Careful reading of the map and my guide book instructions kept me on course as I followed a path through to open moorland but I mistook the track as a rivulet. Continuing on the watery way, I ascended to higher ground along a stony track ducking and diving around many gorse bushes. I walked through Clitters Plantation but the route wasn’t that clear and the track in places had been heavily churned up by cattle. At the end I paused for my morning break where there was a bit of cover as a heavy shower set in for awhile. I now planned out the rest of my mornings’ walk. I was still in good time but I couldn’t afford to take shelter during the heavy downpours which seemed to be the norm. The next bit of the walk beyond Tolcarne would be road walking and so I could keep up a steady pace. Indeed it rained through the hamlets of Tolcarne, Stonaford, and Trebartha and only really went off as I reached North Hill. The church was locked but I decided to stop for a brief break and here I planned and timed out the next part of my walk. I was still making good time and much of the route was along roads. If I did lose time, I could break off early at Henwood and cut down to Upton Cross meaning a longer walk the following day.

The Phoenix United Mine, is one of several such mines around Minions.

From North Hill I dropped down into a deep valley, soon joining a field path then crossed the River Lynher before a steep ascent. With all my waterproof gear on it felt quite warm. Reaching a road I turned left to descend to Berriowbridge before making a steep ascent on a narrow sunken lane to get to Henwood. With another break here I was happy that I was still making good progress and time to do my intended route via Minions. I continued following quiet lanes to Higher Stanbear before taking a path through a area of many disused mines and later veered around to the right before turning left on the road to Minions. Another shower was passing close by and for once this deluge missed me. At Minions it was a sharp left for the long descent down to Upton Cross. I estimated that I had ten minutes to spare to catch the bus to Launceston. On my descent I was stopped by a foreigner in a car who uttered the words ‘Cheesewring’ I gave him directions the best I could and continued on my way.

At Upton Cross I had ten minutes to spare and time to get out of those waterproofs. I wasn’t sure of the precise location of the bus stop as nowhere was marked as a bus stop but on instinct felt that the road towards Rilla Mill would be my best bet despite the B3254 running north towards Launceston. I asked several locals who didn’t have a clue where the bus stopped. Thankfully I chose correctly and was soon on my way to Launceston.

Launceston Castle – a diversion to the day after lunch.

I had some time to kill in the town so dived into the first cafe out of the rain for a hot lunch before visiting the town church, the castle and the Lawrence House Museum plus an ice cream to boot. At least by now the weather had improved somewhat with a few appearances of that round yellow disc in the sky.

Another rainbow, another shower. By now I was living in waterproofs.


Now for the second walk of the day but first I had to catch the bus from Launceston to Camelford which was running around a quarter of an hour late.
Alighting at Camelford I was behind schedule. My main concern was would I complete this twelve mile walk before nightfall. In theory I should, but what if I met problems or fields of restless cattle and bulls where I might have to divert. One thing in my favour was that much of this section was on quiet roads and only the latter part was across fields. It seemed a long drag out of Camelford to Higher Park Walls then left via a longer open road to Davidstow Woods. At least it was dry but there were big showers around and very little in the way of shelter. I did think of cutting the corner to walk through Davidstow Woods, and despite it being shown as open access on the map, there were stout barbwire fences bordering the wood. Turning east across the old airfield at Davidstow, a shower was bearing down and here was possibly the worse place to get caught in a rain storm. I donned waterproof gear prior to it starting but being late in the afternoon this was a dying shower and so for once didn’t come to much. The road walking was a bit tedious and I was glad to be on a track leading to the ruinous farm at Oldpark. A left turn took me across field back to a lane and cattle were grazing in these fields many which became restless as I passed through. Walking narrow but empty lanes took me through to the deserted hamlet of Bowithick. Beyond I entered open moorland and with time on my side I decided on a detour to visit the trig point on Bray Down. Despite showers around, it was the best part of the day with bright early evening sunshine. The ascent was up through areas of gorse and rough grazing and I was rewarded by good views at the top. With a visit to the trig point and summit cairn I made my way to a nearby tor to find some shelter to have a late tea. Was this really August! It felt more like the end of October. It was a lovely spot to sit to observe the deep blue sky and towering shower clouds all around. It was time to calculate how much longer it would take to complete the walk. Would I have time to visit Alternun Church at its ancient crosses towards the end of my walk?

A sheltered spot for tea on Bray Down. The best part of the day to watch all the shower clouds around you.

Some pleasant walking towards the end of the day, but it called for careful navigation across several small fields.

I had the company of’Bambi’ towards the end of the walk who bounded on ahead of me through several fields.

From Bray Down, I almost retraced my steps down to the lane where once more I set off eastwards through Trebray to West Carne. No one was around in this remote corner of Cornwall. At West Carne I had some field walking with no real issues except for cows in the first field that didn’t really notice me. Beyond, I rejoined a narrow lane to reach the deserted hamlet at South Carne where I took a muddy enclosed track before crossing several small fields. This was proving most pleasant and for a few fields I followed a solitary deer that kept bounding off on the sight of me only to reappear in the next small field. At last the hamlet of Trewint was in sight but in the final small field contained a lone cow and lone bull so I stuck around the edge before they took any interest in me. I was now virtually back at the car, but I had just enough daylight left to make the detour into Alternun. This meant a walk along a field path and later lane into this attractive village. Light was going quickly as I reached the church and it was too dark for any decent photographs. I wandered around the churchyard looking at the ancient crosses and all was peaceful except for the crows in the trees, and in the fading light this really did feel like a late October afternoon. All that remained now was a walk back along the lane to Five Lanes to reach the car. It had been an ambitious day to say the least and a good twenty two miles of walking completing a large chunk of the Copper Trail. What would await day three? The adventure continues…..