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Between Moors and Meadows at Camelford

Riverside, woodland and quiet fields in sight of wild moorland make up this charming circuit in North Cornwall.

Distance 5 miles (8km)

Minimum time 3hrs

Ascent/gradient 164ft (50m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Obvious, well-marked paths. Some field sections poorly defined, 28 stiles, some in triplicate and very high

Landscape Wooded riverside, fields and quiet lanes

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 109 Bodmin Moor

Start/finish SX 106836

Dog friendliness Dogs on lead through grazed areas. May find high, multiple stiles difficult

Parking Church car park at north entrance to Camelford, or small car park opposite the North Cornwall Museum

Public toilets Entrance to Enfield Park, Camelford, near Church car park. Car park opposite North Cornwall Museum

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1 From between the Town Hall and the Darlington Inn, cross the main street, with care, and turn up Fore Street for a few paces. Go left through a low archway, signed 'The Moors', and signposted 'To The River and Advent Church'. Follow the riverside path downstream.

2 At a surfaced lane and beside a bridge, turn right and uphill. At the top of a steep incline, just before Fenteroon Farm, go left and through a gate, signposted 'Public Footpath'. Follow the first field edge then cross the next field. Go over a very high stile and descend through woods towards the river. Ignore the stile first passed on the right and instead keep down to a signpost in the valley bottom. Cross the meadow ahead, then go left over a bridge and through a tangle of trees. Bear steeply up left, then go left again, by a signpost, to reach a stile into a lane.

3 Turn right, then, just past the entrance to Trethin Manor, bear off left over a stile, and go through a pleasant meadow and past a fish pond. Cross a granite clapper bridge and a stile, then go up the field to Advent churchyard.

4 From the east end of the churchyard, (on the opposite side of church to where you entered the churchyard) go over a wooden stile and slightly right across a field, to several stiles. Cross a meadow then follow right-hand field edges to three stiles in the hedge. Bear left across the middle of the next field to its far corner and into a surfaced lane. Turn left along the lane.

5 Turn left just before the stream and T-junction by Watergate Farm. Go over stiles and alongside the stream on stone flags. Pass a little enclosure, follow the stream for a short distance, then skirt high gorse and fenced-in trees to reach hidden stiles into a field. Go straight up the field slope and continue to a stile into the next field. Continue to the lane at Moorgate.

6 Cross the lane, go through several fields and then continue along a stony track to reach another lane at Aldermoor Farm. Turn left along the lane.

7 Turn right opposite buildings at Treclago Farm, and go up a lane. At a junction, keep straight ahead along a track. This section can be extremely muddy and mucky. Descend a meadow to a gate, cross a wooden footbridge over a stream, then climb steeply uphill to reach a surfaced lane. Follow the lane, College Road, to reach Camelford.

Camelford qualifies as a moorland 'capital', yet its immediate surroundings are entirely unmoorlike in character. The town nestles in a river valley on the western side of Bodmin Moor and the unexpected views of bare and rocky moorland hills seen during this walk are a pleasing contrast to the lush green countryside that surrounds the town. Camelford has a long and distinguished history. It originated as a strategic river crossing and was granted a Royal Charter as early as the 13th century, giving it the right to hold markets and fairs. The old coaching road to the west skirted the raw uplands of Bodmin Moor and passed through Camelford. Today the town retains its strong historical character although it is partly robbed of inherent charm by incessant through-traffic. A main road still squeezes through what is still, in terms of its narrow streets, the medieval heart of Camelford. Remarkably, however, the start of this walk delivers you instantly into leafy riverside shade and peace and quiet.

From Camelford's Town Hall you cross the narrow Fore Street and pass through an arched passageway called 'The Moors', another indication of an older Camelford that had immediate references to the great sweep of Bodmin Moor to the east. But here it is all wooded riverside paths that take you downstream alongside the River Camel. After half a mile (800m) or so, the route climbs away from the river through quiet meadows, including a wonderful trout pond meadow at Trethin, to reach the handsome Advent Church of St Athwenna. This is a fine isolated position for a church, but sadly St Athwenna's suffers because of this risky isolation and is kept locked, to guard against theft and vandalism.

From the church the route leads through fields and along quiet lanes with unexpected views of the dragon-backed rocky ridge of Roughtor (pronounced Rowtor) and its higher neighbouring hill the more rounded Brown Willy, the highest point in Cornwall at 1,377ft (419 metres). At Watergate, you pass through an intriguing area of old walls and terraces that may have been part of a mill complex; today the walls are muffled with velvety moss, the ground is thick with lush grass. Soon higher ground is reached at Moorgate, another name echoing the area's domination by Bodmin Moor. From here you head back towards Camelford, passing along some engagingly muddy lanes on the way.

What to look for

Keep your eyes peeled as soon as you start walking down the riverside path and you may spot the intriguing dipper, a small dark brown, almost black bird with an unmistakable white patch on its breast. The dipper haunts streams and can stay under water for a time, braced against the stream's flow while seeking out aquatic insects, water snails, larvae and even tiny fish. It can also 'swim' under water, using its wings.

Where to eat and drink

There are no refreshment opportunities on the route of the walk, but Camelford has many food outlets. There are a number of cafés and restaurants. The Mason's Arms and the Darlington Inn both do bar meals.

While you're there

Enjoy a visit to the excellent North Cornwall Museum in Clease Road, Camelford, the road that leads off right from the top end of Fore Street. Then walk down the adjacent Chapel Street with its cobbled rainwater gullies and look at the town's historic buildings such as the Town Hall, which has a weather vane in the form of a golden camel. The nearby Darlington Inn has 16th-century features, and although the interior was destroyed by fire in 1995, much has been restored to its original state. At the north end of Market Place is the attractive Enfield Park.

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