The Camelford Way

The walk enters Camelford's market square and then follows a footpath to the River Camel. The route then follows the river along a wooded valley to Fenteroon Bridge. The return route is on footpaths through fields and finally passing along Camelford's high street.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 109 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 1.8 miles/2.9 km
  • Grade: Easy
  • Start from: Camelford car park
  • Parking: Camelford car park. If you are travelling North on the A39 the car park is just past the bridge on your left. Travelling South it's just after Trefrew road on your right. Satnav: PL329PB
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes or boots

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Pubs and shops in the old market town of Camelford
  • Pretty riverside scenery along the River Camel
  • Wild garlic and bluebells at Fenteroon Bridge in spring
  • Views across the Camel Valley from the fields around Fenteroon Farm

Alternative walks in same location

Directions

  1. As you leave the car park, turn right onto Market Place towards the main village. Cross the road at the pedestrian crossing, so that you are on the same side of the road as the Mason's Arms, and continue uphill past the Darlington Inn to an alleyway between the Physiotherapy Centre and the Needle and Thread shop marked with a footpath sign to Advent Church.

    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!

  2. Turn left down the alleyway in the direction of Advent church and follow the footpath along the river for approximately 1km until the river goes under the road at Fenteroon Bridge.

    The River Camel runs for 30 miles from Bodmin Moor to Padstow Bay. The name Cam-El is from the Cornish meaning "crooked one". It is documented that only the upper reaches of the river, above Boscarne, were originally known as the "Camel". The section from Boscarne to Egloshayle was known as the "Allen" and below this, it was known as "Heyl".

    The River Camel is classed as a SSSI and Special Area of Conservation (SAC) under the EC Habitats Directive. Bullhead, Atlantic Salmon and Otters breed in the river.

  3. Turn right and follow the lane uphill until you reach a set of steps on the right.

    Fenteroon Bridge is a very sturdy version of an ancient form of bridge known as a Clapper Bridge built out of granite slabs spanning piers in the river. The exact age is not known though it is estimated to be some time in the 17th or 18th centuries as the engineering is impressively heavyweight and this has allowed it to be adapted for use as a road bridge. The strong bridge would have allowed heavy loads to be brought from the moorland villages into Camelford for sale in the market.

  4. Climb the steps and follow the driveway ahead, marked with a public footpath sign, to reach a pair of waymarked steps on your left just past the field gate.

    In spring, the woods either side of the lane are carpeted in Wild Garlic

    Wild garlic is best harvested in early spring before it flowers and the leaves start to die off. Unlike domestic garlic, the leaves are the useful bit rather than the bulb, so cut/pull off the leaves (don't pull up the plants). The leaves are quite delicate, so you can use quite large quantities in cooking; therefore, harvest it in the kind of quantities that you'd buy salad leaves from the supermarket. There are some lillies that look fairly similar (and some are poisonous) but the smell is the giveaway: if it doesn't smell of garlic/onions, then it's not wild garlic.

  5. Climb the steps and follow the path parallel to the fence to an iron kissing gate, to the left of the gateway in the bottom-right corner of the field.

    The Cornish language has at least 8 different words for "valley".

    • nans - valley
    • golans - small valley
    • haunans - deep valley with steep sides
    • keynans - ravine
    • glyn - large deep valley
    • deveren - river valley
    • coom - valley of a tributary or small stream
    • tenow - valley floor
  6. Go through the gate and cross the field to another iron kissing gate in the top corner of the hedge ahead.

    Clover is a native plant but is also sown as a fodder crop or as "green manure" as it is a "nitrogen-fixing" plant which converts atmospheric nitrogen into ammonium salts, improving soil fertility. The two most common species are known simply as White Clover and Red Clover, based on the colour of their flowers, with the latter generally being a slightly larger plant.

    The flowers and leaves of red clover can be dried to make a sweet tasting herbal tea. In order to get a good flavour, this needs to be infused for quite a long time (around half an hour) until a deep amber colour develops. Fresh clover doesn’t work so well as the drying process breaks down the cell walls of the plant.

  7. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge to a third iron kissing gate.

    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 must: 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.
  8. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge to a gateway.

    Camelford was quite big on the Methodist scene, helped by the fact that Camelford's parish church is roughly a mile to your left, nearly half-way between Camelford and St Teath.

    In the early 18th Century, a rift developed between the Cornish people and their Anglican clergy. Meanwhile in Oxford, the Wesley brothers began practising their rigorous holy lifestyle which was mockingly referred to as Methodism by their peers. The Wesley brothers arrived in Cornwall in 1743 and began preaching, bringing with them charismatic lay preachers who spoke in the dialect of the locals. Services were held in the cottages which was attractive to women who needed to look after young children, and in the many villages where the parish church was more than a mile away or at the top of a steep hill. A combination of these factors made Methodism very popular in Cornwall and through the late 18th and the 19th Century, many chapels were built (in the centre of the villages).

  9. Go through the gateway and follow the left hedge to join a path which emerges onto the road.

    Unfortunately Victorian Methodism didn't offer much improvement in terms of romance over buying wives in the market house.

    Documented in 1865, the following was supposedly an old Cornish tradition:

    To Choose a Wife: Ascertain the date of the month of the young woman's birth, and refer to the last chapter of Proverbs in the Bible. Each verse from 1st to the 31st is supposed to indicate, either directly or indirectly, the character, and to guide the searcher - the verse corresponding with her birth date indicating the woman's character.

    However, it's probable the rural traditions involving copious amounts of ale and cider have a much longer heritage and were possibly more conducive to wedlock.

  10. Turn right and follow the road back into Camelford.

    As you'd naturally expect from a market town, Camelford has some old pubs:

    • The Darlington is an 800 year old coaching Inn in the market square
    • The Mason's Arms is an 18th century building opposite the library

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 also very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • 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 useful as some single women can just about manage one or two but not a dozen.

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.

If you found this page useful, please could you
our page on Facebook?