Blisland to Lavethan Wood

The walk starts at the Blisland Inn, then heads through the churchyard and down a track to cross the Mill Race stream. The route then goes through Lavethan Wood, to emerge on a lane near Cock's Penrose farm. The walk follows the lane to Barlendew Farm and then across fields back into Lavethan Wood, emerging onto a lane near Bridge Cottage and following it past the Holy Well to Blisland.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 109 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 2.2 miles/3.5 km
  • Grade: Easy-moderate
  • Start from: Blisland Inn
  • Parking: On roadside beside village green. Satnav: PL304JY
  • Recommended footwear: walking boots

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Pretty Saxon village of Blisland with a village green and manor
  • Local food and drink at Blisland Inn - winner of the CAMRA National Pub of the Year
  • Impressively ornate 15th century church
  • Nature reserve of ancient woodland in Lavethan Wood, with bluebells in spring
  • Winding country lanes lined with pretty flowers in spring and summer

Directions

  1. From the lane in front of the Blisland Inn, cross the village green towards the church, to the gate into the churchyard.

    The Blisland Inn lies on the north side of the village green of Blisland, located on the western flank of Bodmin Moor. The pub is renowned for real ales, winning the CAMRA National Pub of the Year in 2001; there are at least 6 real ales on tap at any one time. The landlord has had his own wooden barrels made by a retired cooper, which he sends to the local brewery to fill.

  2. Go through the gate and follow the path, through the churchyard, to the church entrance.

    The parish church of Blisland is located at the south edge of the village green, which lies on the west flank of Bodmin Moor. Blisland church is impressively ornate: thought to be on the site of a Saxon church, it was a slate and granite Norman building, but was rebuilt in the Perpendicular Gothic style in the 15th century (and restored in the 19th). It is unique in being dedicated to St Protus (known locally as St Pratt) and St Hyacinth who were brothers martyred in the late 3rd century AD. No one knows why this church was dedicated to them in the 15th century. If you have the chance to visit on 22nd September, there is a feast day procession to St Pratt's Cross and Holy Well.

  3. From the church entrance, bear right onto the path opposite the church entrance, down some steps and follow it until it ends on a track.

    Notice the sundial above the church door. This is calibrated for the position of the sun in Blisland and would run fast if taken to London. Blisland is roughly 5 degrees west of the Greenwich median and therefore the true time here is about a quarter of an hour behind GMT. It's therefore possible to arrange to meet someone at the church at a particular time, stop for a pint at the Blisland Inn on the way and technically still arrive early!

  4. Bear right along the track, through a gateway marked with a public footpath sign, and follow it until it ends in a field entrance.

    The wildflowers along the track provide a nectar source for butterflies and bumblebees in the Spring and Summer.

    A popular misconception is that a butterfly was originally called flutterby. In fact, the name stems from the Old English word buttorfleoge which literally means "butterfly". Exactly why they were associated with butter is a bit of a mystery. One theory is that they were seen hovering over pails of milk and thought to be stealing or protecting the butter. Another is that the Yellow Brimstone was the species for which this name was first devised. The term "flutterby" is thought to have been coined by Shakespeare.

  5. Cross the field to a stone footbridge in the bottom-left corner, following a path which becomes gravelled as it approaches the bridge.

    Bumblebees were originally called "humble bees" and this name was still in use until early 20th century. There is an urban myth that according to aerodynamics, bumblebees should not be able to fly, leading to statements by US presidential candidates such as:

    It's scientifically impossible for the bumblebee to fly; but the bumblebee, being unaware of these scientific facts, flies anyway.

    You may not be too surprised to discover this assertion was based on flawed calculations in the early 20th Century that neglected to include the bees flapping their wings. In fact, during flight, they beat their wings around 200 times every second. However, the buzzing sound they make is not from the beating wings but from the bee's vibrating flight muscles. On cold days, by using their flight muscles, the bees are able to warm up their bodies to temperatures as high as 30 Celcius. In spring, queen bumblebees need to visit up to 6,000 flowers per day to gather enough nectar and pollen to establish their colony.

  6. Cross the footbridge and bear right slightly across the field to a wooden gate opposite leading into the woods.

    The river is a tributary of the River Camel which it joins about a quarter of a mile downriver at Tresarrett. It is fed by a number of small streams from the Trehudreth and Kerrow downs and was used to power the mills of Waterloo and Lavethan Mill at Tresarrett.

  7. Go through the gate and follow the path a short distance to a crossing with a waymark. Turn right and follow the path to a junction where it meets another path.

    Lavethan Wood lies just south of Blisland on the north-facing slopes of a river valley. Lavethan Wood is managed by the Woodland Trust and is designated a Planted Ancient Woodland Site and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Most of the wood stands on the sloping, freely draining, rich brown earths underlain with Devonian slates. Bluebells are prolific in the wood between April and June. Two public footpaths cross the wood and a permissive path along the stream links the two.

  8. At the junction, bear left up through the woods until the path ends at a stile into a field.

    Look to your right as you walk through the woods to see Lavethan Manor on the opposite side of the valley.

    Lavethan (originally Le bidhen meaning "the meadow") is an old manor house near Blisland, listed in the Domesday Book. The current building incorporates parts of an earlier 15th century house, and was partly remodelled in the 1650's. The Kempe family moved their residence here from Trevelver in 1475 and for the next 200 years, they were the chief landowners in Blisland, being Lords of the Manor of Barlandew, which in 1654 consisted of twelve messuages (dwellings), six cottages, two water corn mills, two tucking mills, sixteen gardens, sixteen orchards, 400 acres of land, 50 acres of wood, 50 acres of moor, and 300 acres of furze and heath! Much of the surrounding Lavethan Wood, originally belonging to the manor, is now maintained by the Woodland Trust, although the house still retains 35 acres of gardens and fields.

  9. Cross the stile into the field. Follow alongside the bushed on the right to a stone stile, to the right of the gate, near the top-right corner.

    The Woodland Trust was founded in 1972 and is dedicated to providing a UK rich in native woods and trees. They summarise themselves as "the RSPCA of trees" and have set themselves the ambitious target of doubling native tree cover throughout the UK over the next 50 years. They now look after more than 1,100 woods and over 110 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and are committed to providing free public access wherever possible.

  10. Cross the stile and turn left along the lane. Follow the lane around a sharp bend to the left. Continue on the lane for half a mile, until you reach a public footpath sign, next to the sign for Barlendew Farm.

    If you are crossing fields in which there are cows:

    • Do not show any threatening behaviour towards calves (approaching them closely, making loud noises or walking between a calf and its mother) as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Generally the best plan is to walk along the hedges.
    • If cows approach you, do not run away as this will encourage them to chase you. Stand your ground and stretch out your arms to increase your size.
    • Avoid taking dogs into fields with cows, particularly with calves. If you can't avoid it: if cows charge, release the dog from its lead as the dog will outrun the cows and the cows will generally chase the dog rather than you.
  11. Turn left down the track marked with the public footpath sign. Follow the track past the farmhouse and continue ahead towards the end of the stone wall, in front of a large barn.

    "Barlendew" (or "Barlandew") means "above God's enclosure" in Cornish because, at the time of building, there was a clear view of the Blisland church from here.

  12. Join the waymarked path and follow it alongside the wall to a kissing gate.

    From Tudor times onwards, the majority of farming in Cornwall was based around rearing livestock with dairy cattle being predominant. This is reflected in traditional Cornish dairy produce including clotted cream and, later, ice cream and in the North Cornwall dialect where the pejorative for "farmer" was a fairly graphical description of the act of milking before the introduction of milking machines which rhymed with "bit fuller".

    Since 1984, the European Common Market agricultural policy - to restrict milk production - has reduced dairy herds and prompted shifts to beef and lamb production, and arable crops - particularly maize and oilseed rape. Two large buyers of Cornish milk - Rodda's for their clotted cream and Diary Crest for the production of Davidstow and Cathedral City cheeses - have helped to buffer the Cornish dairy industry from this to some degree. Post-Brexit, there is speculation that Britain may become more agriculturally self-sufficient and this could change the dynamics once again.

  13. Go through the kissing gate into a field. Follow the left hedge of the field to a gate in the corner.

    The name "Kissing Gate" is based on the way that the gate touches either side of the enclosure. Romantics may however wish to interpret the name as part of the walk instructions.

  14. Go through the gate and cross the stile on the opposite side of the track. Follow the left hedge then head for the stone stile approximately 30 metres from the corner of the field.
  15. Cross the stile and bear right to the far right corner of the field where there is a stone stile.

    In fields with crops where the footpath doesn't run along the edge, if there is a well-trodden path then follow this to avoid trampling any more of the crops. If there appears to be no path through the crops then follow around the edge of the field if possible to avoid damaging the crop.

  16. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to a stile.

    Since prehistoric times, a year of fallow was used to allow soil nutrients to recover before planting a crop the following year. By the end of the Middle Ages, a three-year scheme was in use with alternating crops allowing production two out of three years. In the 18th Century a four-crop rotation was introduced (wheat, turnips, barley, and clover) which not only resulted in continuous production but included a grazing crop and a winter fodder crop, providing food for livestock throughout the year. Crops used in the rotation had different nutrient demands, giving the soil chance to recover. In particular, bean crops and clover impart nitrogen into the soil and are therefore a key part of modern rotation schemes. As well as balancing the use of soil nutrients between years, by staggering the rotation in adjacent fields, the spread of pests and diseases is reduced.

  17. Cross the stile and follow the path through the woods until it ends at a stile beside a lane.

    On the left of the stile leading onto the lane is a gate leading to a path along the river. It's quite a pretty spot if you fancy a small detour for a few photos or a picnic. Return to the gate and stile to continue the walk onto the lane ahead.

  18. Cross the stile to reach the lane. Turn left and follow the lane over the bridge and uphill to reach the Blisland village green.

    At the corner, where the lane bends to the left, St. Pratt's Cross and Holy Well can be seen on the right side.

    St Pratt's Cross lies beside the lane between Blisland and Trewint. It marks the site of St Pratt's Well which is used as the source of holy water for christenings at the parish church.

  19. When you reach the village green, cross over the green to end the walk at the Blisland Inn.

    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.

Help us with this walk

You can help us to keep this walk as accurate as it possibly can be for others by spotting and feeding back any changes affecting the directions. We'd be very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • Any stiles, gates or waymark posts referenced in the directions which are no longer there
  • Any stiles referenced in the directions that have been replaced with gates, or vice-versa
  • If you have a large dog, let us know if you find problems with the stiles on this walk (e.g. require the dog to be lifted over). A rough idea of how many problematic stiles there are is also useful.

Take a photo and email contact@iwalkcornwall.co.uk, or message either IWalkCornwall on facebook or @iwalkc on twitter. If you have any tips for other walkers please let us know, or if you want to tell us that you enjoyed the walk, we'd love to hear that too.

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