|Bryony on Leskernick Hill|
This post is another that is long overdue... in fact Sheron Vowden and I did the route in September 2019, so I'm about a year and a half late, but never fear, I'm slowly catching up!
It was a hot day. Sheron had driven us down to the foot of Trewint Tor where we parked considerately at the roadside. We were undecided about whether or not we would leave Trewint Tor till last, but just in case we had little energy by the end we thought it safer to bag it first.
Sheron had visited before, like most other features on this walk, but was happy to give me a tour.
The tor is quite lovely and despite the constant roar from the A30 and easy accessibility possesses a unique sense of openness. The tor boasts fine views and decent outcrops along with feather and tare in evidence, a common practice that was used to split granite for building purposes.
We descended the tor to the west where Sheron had spotted an outcrop in a field, at SX 20387 80157, which naturally I also became instantly interested in. Now, on Bodmin Moor, in comparison to Dartmoor, there are few tors that remain unmarked on Ordnance Survey (OS) Maps, but you get odd ones like this that despite their prominence go unnamed.
We wanted a better view so headed onto the moor at Westmoorgate in the hope of reaching the outcrop. Based on its proximity to Hendra Farm below, it felt apt to christen it 'Hendra Tor', and sure enough, this is the name that Sheron had in mind, too! It is quite nice but does reside within what is most probably private land, although from my best memory no animals nor privacy were disturbed and we didn't linger. If you wish to see it, you can get decent enough views from Trewint Tor, or by the nearby stroll leading to the entrance to the field immediately to the north of Hendra Tor. I wouldn't bother getting up close like we did.
We handrailed the wall, failing to find all of the OS benchmarks that I had intended to, but we reached another tor, one that is called Black Rock. This is a beautiful outcrop, small but characteristic, that Sheron had remarked to me resembles a "mini Fur Tor!" I have to agree; its block-like appearance is begging to be sat on and so the art of tor sitting began! The views are worth it.
It was a gradual ascent to The Beacon, the highest point of the day, but en route I spotted what looked to be a ruined kistvaen or cist, at SX 19660 79443.
|Cist below The Beacon?|
The top of The Beacon actually resides beyond this boundary fence that we had been following so we needed to cross it. We found a gate but, and this is from memory now, it was locked, so we scaled it. This hasn't been the only instance on Bodmin Moor of a locked gate connecting contiguous open access land; I can only suspect that it is to stop people from leaving them open, but if so why not provide a stile? It would be sad to find if it was because the landowner did not welcome visitors on land we are legally allowed to walk on.
However lovely the views are, and they are far-reaching, the summit is underwhelming with a small outcrop crowning the top alongside the remains of barrows. As you will see below Sheron could not contain her excitement!
Views from The Beacon are exhilarating and encapsulate the high moor, from Brown Willy (Bronn Wennili) and Roughtor to the ridgeline tors of Trewortha and Kilmar. The open expansiveness between here and Roughtor took me by surprise; I was not expecting it to be so exposed, and reminded me somewhat of the view northward from Great Mis Tor (albeit on a much smaller scale) where the valleys are the main distinguishing factor from hill to hill.
We descended south-easterly at first to visit two (supposedly) trigged stones before striking west to the excellently-named Elephant Rock. This could be loosely described as a tor but its comparatively small size is not what makes it unique, that is the shape of the outcrop. Look on its top to find some fantastic rock basins.
|Rock basin on Elephant Rock|
I now wanted to take Sheron to what could be a new outcrop, one that I had noticed on Google Satellite Imagery appearing as a rock field of large rocks at SX 19175 79020. The rocks were disappointingly low but covered a large area with some interesting sections amid the sparse trees. Their position directly above Trezelland meant it made sense to acknowledge this name and dub the granite 'Trezelland Rocks'.
We turned north to reach another awkward gate before heading north-west to a recumbent stone circle.
|Recumbent Stone Circle No.1 SX 18815 79620|
We crossed the track that leads to Leskernick from Westmoorgate. Leskernick is a lonely house that to me is the Nun's Cross Farm of Bodmin Moor. It is so isolated from everything else.
We visited a succession of prehistoric features, namely a stone row, barrow and another recumbent stone circle. Sadly, the stone row had been partly interfered with and destroyed as it is at the site of workings (I presume peat or tin maybe). It is still traceable for the most part, though.
|Little stone row SX 18704 79859|
|Barrow SX 18682 79827|
|Recumbent Stone Circle No.2 SX 18580 79927|
We pressed on up through the extensive settlement on the southern slopes of Leskernick Hill, but it was getting hot now and we felt the need to refresh with a snack and bottle of water. Cresting the hill on its west flank we sat on one of the hill's outcrops. For a brief period my mind froze and I felt sick and dizzy, but strangely this was short-lived but I honestly can't say what had caused me to feel like it. Thank goodness I drunk plenty of water.
Leskernick Hill is basically the Whittenknowles Rocks of Bodmin Moor but with a much better tor remnant, a huge area of broken granite outcrops, slabs, boulders and clitter that prehistoric man has taken great advantage of in the Bronze Age. The hill is pretty remote and on all sides you are met with moor. Perfect.
|Leskernick Hill, looking southward|
We made the decision to visit Buttern Hill, a place Sheron had not been to before. From Leskernick we took a visual bearing but this led us into a deep gully - and I mean deep! It was basically a huge excavation in the col that we had to walk into, unless we had been sensible and gone either left or right where there are crossing places, but no, that would be boring!
If only we'd brought ropes...
It was a slog up to the top of Buttern Hill with only the views compensating for the effort. It was really getting hot now and we had to make sure we watched out for adders. There is no tor on Buttern but what it lacks in natural granite it makes up for in regards to its magnificent cist. I was not expecting such a huge burial chamber to be up here! For that alone it is well worth a visit, but the views once again saw different angles of the highest tors and the long, hazy, distant fields of North Cornwall.
|Buttern Hill Cist|
|Large slab on Buttern Hill|
A pool of water and bog sat beside the prehistoric monument that helped to cool down Bryony's feet, and remarkably she is very good at regulating temperature, a trait that seems to be commonplace among black labs.
Next on the cards was Bray Down, so we set off in an easterly to meet Penpont Water at a ford, another opportunity to cool off. This is a lovely glade, and in this heat the temptation was to go for a paddle, but it wouldn't make the walk back to the car any easier!
Up the bank it made sense to pass through the gate by the wall corner in the hope of cutting out some distance while still achieving the goal, handrailing the wall whilst gaining elevation before cutting left over to the summit, which to my surprise comprised of not only a trig point and cairn but a splendid tor of two parts. The outcrops are close to the top but rest on the west slope above a clitter that indicates it used to be much grander.
The views are stupendous because, being on the edge of the high moor, you can appreciate your altitude by looking over the various fields that stretch off infinitely.
|Bray Down Summit Cairn|
|Rock basin on Bray Down 'Tor'|
|Bray Down 'Tor'|
|Bray Down 'Tor'|
|Bray Down Trig Point|
It was unbelievably hot now, actually unbearable, and I could sense the energy that was being sucked out of all of us. Had we known it would be this hot Bryony wouldn't have accompanied us, but she seemed to be dealing with it far better than Sheron and I. Getting back to the car now was critical in our survival!
We headed almost due south to a gate in the wall before bearing south-east to a point where two streams meet. The lack of a breeze was showing and I felt a little fatigued, but nevertheless morale was just about existent knowing we had little distance left to traverse.
|Another stream crossing|
The route to Westmoorgate was easy now, simply heading east-south-east across short turf. We passed some bizarre square-shaped patches of grass that I believe are remnants of the peat extraction industry on the moor. They look like grassy cairns with odd perimeters like a moat.
|Peat extraction remnants|
|Peat extraction remnants|
|Peat extraction remnants|
Blimey, what a relief to reach Westmoorgate! That was one eventful walk which took in a wonderful part of the moor, where hardly a sole was seen, if anyone, and the tors were very nice if a bit (well a lot) smaller than the beasts of Kilmar, Sharp and Rough. We encountered few fences which was a joy, the views were excellent but the heat was unbearable towards the end and dampened our spirits somewhat.
My thanks go to Sheron for not only accompanying me on this walk but for being my transport to and from the moor. Were it not for her I would not have been able to enjoy this new area.