Bodmin Moor scenic drive

The route reaches the Moor at Roughtor, Cornwall's second-highest Tor and continues via Davidstow to Altarnun - the cathedral of the moors. At this point you can opt for a shortcut along the A30 coaching route passing Jamaica Inn made famous by Daphne du Maurier or take the longer route which climbs up to Minions with its many engine houses, standing stones and curious tor in the shape of a Cheesewring before descending to Golitha Falls National Nature Reserve and St Neot, returning to Jamaica Inn via Dozmary Pool and the Loveny nature reserve around Colliford Lake. You then rejoin the return route which is through the saxon village of Blisland with its ornate church and St Breward where the moor is studded with the remains of Neolithic and Bronze Age settlements.

  • Longer route:60 miles round trip (2.5 - 3 hours driving time)
  • Shorter route:42 miles round trip (1.5 - 2 hours driving time)

Map of the route


The outbound route is in blue; the short route is shown in red and the longer route is in yellow; the return route in both cases is in orange. You can double-click to zoom in and drag to scroll the map, and click on any of the icons for more information. You can also view a larger version of the map in a new tab/window.

Directions

King Arthur's stone near Slaughterbridge in North Cornwall
Arthur's stone
Camelford - a market town in North Cornwall - during the 750 year charter celebration
750 year charter celebration
Dawn over roughtor
Dawn over Roughtor
Roughtor on Bodmin Moor in Cornwall
Roughtor
The road to Roughtor from Camelford on Bodmin Moor
The road to Roughtor
Bodmin Moor
Bodmin Moor near Davidstow
Crowdy reservior at dawn
Crowdy reservior at dawn
Alternun
Altarnun
Alternun in Autumn
Autumn colours in Altarnun
Medieval carvings at St Nonna's in Alternun
Medieval carvings
Norman font at St Nonna's in Alternun
Norman Font
Horse grazing on Bodmin Moor near Minions
Horse grazing on Bodmin Moor
Cheesewring near Minions
Cheesewring near Minions
King Doniert's Stone
King Doniert's Stone
River cascades at Golitha Falls
River Fowey at Golitha Falls
Path under beech trees at Golithia Falls
Beech avenue at Golitha Falls
River cascades at Golitha Falls
Golitha Falls
The village green in Blisland
Blisland Village Green
The church in Blisland
Blisland church
The elaborately decorated screen in Blisland Church
Decorated screen
Jubilee Rock near Blisland in Cornwall
Jubilee Rock
View over Bodmin Moor near St Breward
Bodmin Moor near St Breward
Old Inn at St Breward
Old Inn at St Breward
Casehill near St Breward
  • Turn right onto the B3263 and drive down Trewarmett Hill and up the valley passing slate quarries on either side. At the top of the road is a sharp bend to the left of which is Condolden Barrow (access is up a lane to the left).
  • The location, overlooking Tintagel, and massive proportions of Condolden Barrow suggests that a figure of considerable importance is buried here. Thomas Hardy presented it as the final resting place of Queen Isolde in his play, The Famous Tragedy of the Queen of Cornwall, about a pair of doomed lovers, Tristan and Isolde, who were much like Lancelot and Guinevere.

    Many scholars believe that the barrow is the burial place of Cador, the sixth century king of Cornwall. In the 12th century poem The Dream of Rhonabwy, Cador is described as one of Arthur's knights and is said to have led the British warriors in their rout of the West Saxon army at the Siege of Mount Badon. Cador is also mentioned in Geoffrey of Monmouth's History of the Kings of Britain as Arthur's sword bearer at his coronation and a caretaker of Guinevere.

  • Follow the main road round the sharp bend to the right and to a T-junction. At the T-junction turn left on the B3314 towards Camelford.
  • The road comes out at a staggered crossroads, go straight across towards Slaughterbridge.
  • Slaughterbridge, located north of Camelford on the road from Delabole to the A39, a very old settlement which is said to take its name from two battles which took place nearby during the Early Middle Ages. A sixteenth-century traveler noted the discovery of the armour and bones of many soldiers while ploughing the meadow at Slaughterbridge. However the name of the bridge is ambiguous as 'Slaughter' could mean 'muddy' from the old English translation - a number of sites of archealogical interest still being excavated may confirm the battles here.

    Just before you reach the bridge is the Arthurian Centre. Here, beside the river at Slaughterbridge is a 6th century memorial stone known as "Arthur's stone" inscribed in Latin and ogham (Celtic script) commemorating a Celtic chieftan. Legends link the stone to the Battle of Camelan where the tales say Arthur slay Mordred and was himself fatally wounded.

  • Cross the bridge and turn right at the bend. Follow Trefrew road which ends in a T-junction in Camelford. There is a free car park just to the right of the junction if you want to stop in Camelford.
  • Camelford is a market town on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Camelford gained its status as a town in 1259 after being granted its first Charter by King Henry III. In the town centre, the library was once the Town Hall; the cobbled area that it stands in used to be the market square. Camelford Town hall was erected in 1806 over the Market House, where in the early 1800s, a wife could be bought for 2-3 shillings!

  • From the junction from Slaughterbridge turn left, taking the A39 north out of Camelford and take the next right (Roughtor Road) which as the name suggests leads to Roughtor. At the far end is a Car Park from which you can walk up Roughtor if the fancy takes you (it's about half a mile walk to the top).
  • Rough Tor is the second highest peak on Bodmin Moor. It is pronouced "row-tor" because the local dialect word "row" meant "rough". The summit of Rough Tor is encircled by a series of rough Neolithic stone walls which link natural outcrops, to form a tor enclosure. Also on the summit are the foundations of a mediaeval chapel, built into the side of one of the larger cairns.

  • Backtrack on Roughtor road and take the first right at a crossroads, this road passes Crowdy Reservior
  • Crowdy reservoir is situated within the Bodmin Moor Site of Special Scientific Interest and is fed by run-off and drainage from surrounding moorland. The banks, except around the Nature Reserve, are open for walking and picnicking and a bird hide, open to all visitors, is a pleasant 20 minute walk from the car park along the north bank. There are often Nearctic waders in autumn and spectacular flocks of starlings around Davidstow in the winter. The lake is stocked with rainbow and brown trout. Provided you have a rod licence you can fish for free by spinning, fly or bait. In recognition of the high conservation value of this lake, no other activities, apart from free wilderness trout angling, take place at this location.

  • The road then follows one of the WW2 runways from Davidstow airfield
  • The paved areas on Davidstow Moor that the road runs alongside and form an intriguing pattern on satellite maps are the remains of RAF Davidstow Moor, and the main control tower is still clearly visible. Constructed during World War 2, RAF Davidstow Moor was used as an airbase from late 1942 until December 1945. The air base was used mainly by the Americans and Canadians for training in the run up to D-Day and were visited by General Eisenhower during 1944. However, the frequent moorland mist rendered the base unusable for much of the time which is why it was closed after the war.

    After the airfield closed, it became a motor racing circuit, known as Davidstow Circuit. In the early 1950s, three Formula One races were held there (the Cornwall MRC Formula 1 Races), including the first success for the Lotus marque.

    Today, part of the airfield is still used by the Davidstow Flying Club (on the less misty days), and the Davidstow Airfield and Cornwall At War Museum has been set up to commemorate the work and people of RAF Davidstow Moor.

  • The road ends in a T-junction, turn right and follow the road across the moor to a sharp bend with the Rising Sun Inn - a 16th century inn built originally as a farmhouse which serves locally brewed beer.
  • Just past the corner take a right turn and follow the road through Treween and into Altarnun.
  • Altarnun is a pretty village to the north-east of Bodmin Moor. The name "Altarnun" is a corruption of "Altar of St Nonna" although the village was originally known by the Cornish name Penpont (hence the name of the river - Penpont Water). The Old Rectory near the church was featured by Daphne Du Maurier in "Jamaica Inn".

  • Follow the road through Altarnun and into Five Lanes.

If you want a shorter route, you can skip the section below between the dotted lines by turning right onto the the A30 until you reach Jamaica Inn. Otherwise follow the directions in this section for a longer route via Minions and Golitha Falls:

  • Take the second left at the roundabout to Trevague and follow the lane. When you reach a fork, follow the left fork (not the dead end) to Trevague (don't turn right down next dead end, just follow the windy lane).
  • The lane comes out in T junction on a B road; turn right towards Callington ingoring all the turnings until you reach Congdon's Shop (the last turn before Congdon's Shop is a right turn to Trethorne).
  • At Congdon's Shop turn right towards Liskeard at the crossroads by the war memorial and follow the B3254 (signposted to Liskeard) until you reach Upton Cross.
  • In Upton Cross, turn right to Minions at the crossroads and follow the lane up the hill to Minions
  • Minions is a small village on the south-east corner of Bodmin Moor. Near the car park, one of the engine houses of the South Pheonix mine has been converted into the a heritage centre which interprets the history of the surrounding landscape. The area surrounding Minions offers a wealth of archaeological interest from early Bronze Age to the Tin and Copper Mining which finished early in the last century. Most of the village is over 300m, and Minions claims to be the highest village in Cornwall, rivalling St Breward.

    The Cheesewring is a tor on Stowes Hill near Minions. The tor gets is name because it is topped with a natural rock formation that looks like the press with a stack of weights that was used to make cheese (and also cider as the apple pulp was known as "cheese"). The cheesewring was a well-known landscape feature by Tudor times and it featured in large illustrations in the margins of Cornwall maps at the end of this period. The granite slabs, which appear to have been balanced, were created by erosion over many thousands of years.

  • Follow the main road through Minions until you reach a junction. Turn right (you can optionally take a short diversion to the left to see Trethevy Quoit and then double back to this junction).
  • King Doniert's Stone, located near Golitha Falls, consists of two stone fragments of an ancient memorial cross which is thought might have originally been topped with a wooden cross. It dates from the 9th Century and commemorates the death of Dungarth the King of Cornwall, who drowned in the River Fowey nearby at about the time when the Anglo-Saxons were gaining control of eastern Cornwall. The shorter stone has an Anglo-Saxon inscription which has been translated as "Doniert has asked prayers for his Soul".

  • Pass King Doniert's stone on your left and turn right to golitha falls. The road forks; take the left fork signposted Golitha Falls. Go over a bridge and the car park is on the right.
  • At the Golitha Falls National Nature Reserve, the River Fowey cascades through a pretty valley covered in a mixture of ancient woodland and a beech avenue. A circular path of about 1km runs around the reserve. There is also a shorter paved route of about 400m.

    In spring, the valley is carpeted with bluebells and in autumn, the trees are vivid colours. In summer, look out for woodland butterflies such as the orange and black silver-washed fritilliary; the males are attracted to orange items including car indicators and Sainsburys' carrier bags!

  • Turn right out of the Golitha falls car park; follow the lane uphill and down into two valleys and up a steep hill. Go straight on at the crossroads up another steep hill. At the T junction turn right to St Neot and Colliford lake.
  • It is likely the village of St. Neot, sheltered from the roughest of gales, owes its origins to the Celtic saint, Anietus. He lived in the area that bears his name in the ninth century and the present church is dedicated to him. In the Domesday Survey, St. Neot is first recorded as "Neotstow" and it tells us that there was a religious house here, recorded as held by "Godric the priest".

  • Turn right again to colliford lake. Follow lane climbing up onto the moor with views across the moor to roughtor and brown willy.
  • When you come to a T junction take the right turn signposted to Dozmary pool.
  • Dozmary Pool is located on the southern part of the moor near Bolventor. It is Cornwall's only natural inland lake which has no visible inlets, and is fed by rivulets underneath the heathland peat. Locals once said it was bottomless, but in the 19th century this was proved to be false when the bottom was revealed during a drought. Another legend was that the giant Treheage was made to drain it using a limpet shell - a task he achieved with such vigour that he flooded St Neot. Tennyson's famous poem on the "Mort d'Arthur" featured Loe Pool as the location for a ghostly hand rising from a lake to grasp Arthur's sword Excalibur, but many people claim that Dozmary Pool is a more likely location for the legend.

  • Pass Colliford lake on your left and Dozmary pool on your right.
  • The Loveny Reserve is an area of Bodmin Moor to the south of the A30. The nature reserve is an important ornithological site which includes Colliford Lake and surrounding moorland. It is jointly owned between the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Cornwall Birdwatching and Preservation Society.

  • Follow road all the way to Bolventor where it ends in a T junc near Jamaica Inn
  • The Jamaica Inn near Bolventor is a coaching inn built in 1750 that was made famous by Daphne du Marier in her book of the same name. Weary travellers using the turnpike between Launceston and Bodmin would stay at the Inn after having crossed the wild and treacherous moor. The Jamaica Inn is said by some to be founded by a retired Jamaican settler - whose 'bold venture' of building an inn may have given Bolventor its name. Others think the Inn may have got its name because it did a considerable trade in rum! Attached to the pub is a museum dedicated to Cornish Smuggling and Daphne du Marier.

  • Turn left onto the A30.

The shortened route resumes here:

  • Follow the A30 from Jamaica Inn until it turns into single carriageway. Ignore right turn to st breward and pass temple fishery on left and carry on up the hill
  • Turn right at the crossroads to Blisland and St Breward.
  • The lane ends in a T junction. Turn right to Blisland.
  • Blisland is a small village which lies on the western flank of the Bodmin Moor, perched above the valley of the River Camel. Unlike most other Cornish villages, the houses of Blisland are grouped around a village green indicating Saxon origins. On the corner of the green is Blisland Manor which is much more recent, dating from the 16th Century. There are 7 wayside crosses in Blisland (out of 360 in Cornwall) including one near the village post office.

  • Follow lane passing a turning on right to Waterloo, over a bridge, up a hill past a wayside cross until you reach Blisland. In Blisland the church is on your left and the green on your right.
  • Located near Pendrift on the northern edge of Blisland, Jubilee Rock is a large natural granite boulder which originally supported another large balancing rock (known locally as a logan stone). It is now a Grade II listed monument as it is covered with carvings of Britannia, royalty, and Coats of Arms. It was originally carved in 1809-10 for George III's Golden Jubilee by Lieutenant John Rogers. It was updated with new carvings in 1859 and 1887 for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and the carvings were restored for the 2012 Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. A brass plate now in Bodmin Town Museum was originally fixed to the rock containing lines of verse composed by John Rogers. In 2010, the plate was temporarily reattached to the rock for a 200 year celebration which involved attempts at singing the verses John Rogers had composed.

  • Take Tregenna Road out of Blisland to St Breward (the turning to St Breward is on the opposite side of the green from the Church past the manor house)
  • Go straight up the lane (not left to Waterloo). Further along the lane you reach a crossroads. At the crossroads bear right signposted St Breward and Temple.
  • Follow the lane across moorland and the take the left turn to St Breward and Camelford.
  • In St Breward, go straight over the crossroads.
  • St Breward is on the northwest side of Bodmin moor and the parish covers both Roughtor and Brown Willy. The name of the village is said by some to come from the 6th century Cornish Saint Branwalader. Others say it is from a 13th century bishop of Exeter. Previously the village was called Simonward which, according to legend, was the name of the brewer to King Arthur's household although that might have been concocted in the Old Inn after a few ales.

  • Follow the road through St Breward past the pub and church on your right, then follow signs to Camelford. Turn right and right again onto the B3266.
  • Turn right onto the B3266 and follow it north back towards Camelford where it joins the A39.
  • As soon as you join the A39, take the left opposite Valley Truckle garage and then follow the road back to the Camelford Station crossroads, where you turn left towards Delabole onto the B3314 at the crossroads, then immediately right towards Tintagel which leads you back past Condolden Barrow to Trewarmett.