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Bodmin Moor and the Tamar Valley

Although Cornwall cannot boast a National Park it has plenty of well recognized areas of unspoilt natural beauty, the largest & best-known being Bodmin Moor
Bodmin Moor covers 80 square miles (208 square km) of marshy high moorland which drains into the Fowey, Tiddy, Inny, Warleggan and Camel Rivers. Bodmin Moor includes Cornwall’s highest point, Brown Willy, and its only natural lake, Dozmary Pool. Three reservoirs supply water for the whole county: Colliford Lake, Sibly Back and Crowdy Reservoir. Together they provide an important habitat for otters and waterbirds.

Liskeard is an old market town and one of the gateways to Bodmin Moor. Once a centre for the mining industry, it has a few fine buildings displaying its former glory.

The road from Liskeard soon climbs onto the bleak moor as it approaches Pensilva. Ancient burial chambers and standing stones dedicated to long-forgotten Celtic rulers are scattered across the moors and visited only by sheep. St Cleer has a fine example of a Holy Well, a sacred spring said to have healing powers beneath a 15th century granite shelter.

One of the best known places on Bodmin Moor is Jamaica Inn, immortalized in Daphne du Maurier’s novel of the same name. The desolate coaching inn still welcomes visitors to its pub, Smugglers attraction and Museum of Curiosity. Just down the hill, the small village of Temple got its name from the 12th century church built by the Knights Templar for pilgrim travelers.

The town of Bodmin is a bustling community in the centre of the county and is the starting point of the Camel Trail. Hire a bicycle and enjoy 18 miles of flat countryside before arriving at the north coast village of Padstow, best known for its fine fish restaurants run by celebrity chef, Rick Stein.

Walkers will enjoy discovering mediaeval farms, packhorse bridges, standing stones and small villages such as Blisland as they explore the windswept hills and river valleys at a slower pace. Camelford, a pleasant and prosperous town, stills clings to its claim as being the location of Camelot, home of King Arthur and Merlin.

The nearby village of Slaughterhouse has a stone allegedly marking the spot where Arthur fell in his final battle, hence the village name. Launceston with its 1000 year old castle in the centre of the town was once the capital of Cornwall. The narrow streets have a variety of local shops and galleries.

Tamar Valley

Heading east from Bodmin Moor, the scenery becomes more typically Cornish as the A386 bowls along through charmingly named communities such as St Ive (pronounced St Eve), Harrowbarrow, St Ann’s Chapel and down to the riverside town of Calstock.

Sip a pint of real ale in the pub garden beside the RiverTamar and watch the local boating traffic. Follow the river as it lazily bends around to Cotehele House. This well-preserved Tudor manor and gardens was mercifully saved from modernisation when the Edgcumbe family moved to the mansion of Mount Edgcumbe in 1553.

Whether your interest is walking, cycling, climbing, fishing, kayaking, antique hunting, ancient history or church architecture, Bodmin Moor and the Tamar Valley are rich in opportunities for outdoor recreation.

About Gillian Birch

Born in Cheshire, Gillian Birch moved to Cornwall at her earliest opportunity and never looked back. After 20 years, her ongoing discovery of popular attractions, quiet footpaths and local eateries has made her a fount of knowledge as she entertains readers with her informative articles on the hidden gems of Devon & Cornwall from a local point-of-view.

Find Gillian on Google+, and Twitter.

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