East Moor to Newton

The walk starts on the lane from Tregrenna, where it heads onto the moor to Fox Tor. After climbing to the summit, the route descends to a series of ring cairns, then across to a line of boundary stones which it follows to the Nines Stones Circle. The walk then follows more boundary stones to some woods, then along footpaths and tracks to Newton farm. From here, it crosses fields and wooded areas to Treburland farm and finally across a field and back onto the lane towards Fox Tor.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 109 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 3.8 miles/6 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: the lane from Tregrenna to Fox Tor
  • Parking: Side of lane. From the Kings Head pub in Five Lanes, turn left and follow the lane to the end. Turn right and follow the road for about 100 metres then turn left, passing under the A30, to a roundabout. Take the first exit at the roundabout signposted to "Trevague" and follow the lane, turning right at the junction down the lane marked as a no-through road. Continue over a bridge and up the lane until you see a gate on your left. Park on the grass verge opposite the gateway. Satnav: PL157SB
  • Recommended footwear: walking boots

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Panoramic views across Bodmin Moor from the summit of Fox Tor
  • Nine Stones Circle - a restored Neolithic monument
  • Pretty woodland around Tolcarne and Treburland
  • Hut circles, boundary stones, cairns and other ancient remnants of a Bronze Age civilisation

Directions

  1. Facing the gateway, turn right along the lane and follow it to a sharp right corner, after which the road goes through a gate.
  2. At the bend, bear left onto the track that continues straight ahead and follow it to an iron gate.
  3. Go through the gate and bear left, following the track through a small spring and around a bend left where there is a short fork to the right, heading up towards the summit of Fox Tor.

    The ponies on Bodmin Moor are semi-feral: they are all owned by farmers, but allowed to roam free on the moor. Many are not microchipped and look similar to others, so for people other than their owners, it can be difficult to tell to whom they actually belong. During the winter, natural food is scarce so the farmers supplement the ponies' diets; this prevents the ponies wandering off altogether.

  4. Bear right off the track and head up the hillside to the triangulation point at the summit of Fox Tor.

    From the summit of Fox Tor, look left from the direction you climbed to see the peaks of Dartmoor on a clear day, and right to see Buttern Hill and Brown Willy.

    Brown Willy is a tor on the north-west area of Bodmin Moor.The name "Brown Willy" is actually a distortion of the Cornish Bronn Wennili which means "hill of swallows". The summit is the highest point in Cornwall, at 420m above sea level, but only 20m taller than Rough Tor.

  5. From the summit of Fox Tor, continue ahead in the same direction towards the summit of a small hill in line with the lowest point in the skyline ahead. At the summit of the hill, head for a ring cairn which looks similar to a lunar crater, now that the stones themselves haven fallen over.

    The piles or rings of stones known as cairns, were built for a variety of purposes: some ceremonial including burials, some practical such as markers in a calendric sundial. Although much speculation has taken place, the reason for the construction of each is now unknown. When radiocarbon dating was done on nine of the cairns on Bodmin Moor, eight gave average date ranges between 2162 to 1746 BC, suggesting the early Bronze Age was the main building period. The remnants you see today are in many cases a small fragment of the original structure as the rocks from many cairns have since been "re-purposed" for use in drystone walls, buildings, roads etc. The Cornish word for cairn is karn or carn (from karnow, meaning "rock piles") and Cornwall (Kernow) itself may actually be named after the cairns that dot its landscape.

  6. From the ring cairns, turn left and head towards the summit of the large smooth sloping hill now ahead of you on the skyline. As you approach the dip in front of the hill, bear left slightly towards a large round stone balanced on its edge.

    Boundary stones are robust physical markers that were placed to identify either the start or change in direction of land boundaries. On Bodmin Moor, they are granite rocks typically about 3 feet tall. Around the Nine Stones Circle near Fox Tor, they are about 50 metres apart and are the only visible stones, other than the circle itself. While some are still standing, many have fallen over.

  7. At the large stone, turn left and head in the direction of the edge of the stone, passing some other smaller boundary stones, until you reach Nine Stones Circle.

    The Nine Stones Circle, near Fox Tor, comprises a ring of 8 stones with the ninth in the centre. It was reconstructed in the nineteeth century from stones of local granite, although some of the stones have since fallen again or are leaning at precarious angles. Alexander Thom proposed the circle is in lunar alignment with the nearby border stone row which leads towards some cairns, although this has been considered doubtful as the row is likely of mediaeval construction.

  8. From the circle, continue to follow the line of boundary stones over the brow of the hill, then head for the nearest corner of a walled copse of trees.

    It is not fully understood what function the stone circles served, although excavation of some monuments has shown an association with burials. Some circles also appear to have been used to mark the passage of time and seasons, which is indicated by the alignment of stones with landmarks, to mark important solar or lunar events such as the sunrise and sunset at the winter or summer solstice. Where excavated, they have been found to date from the Late Neolithic to the Middle Bronze Age (2400-1000 BC).

  9. Go through the gap in the wall and follow the left hedge, down through the woods, until you reach a gap in the hedge, just before a wire fence.

    Scattered across the moor to your left, are a number of prehistoric hut circles.

    Looking across the barren granite landscape of Bodmin Moor, it may seem strange that so many settlements can be found here from the Neolithic and Bronze Age periods. About 10,000 years ago, Bodmin Moor was almost entirely covered in forest, and the Neolithic tribes would have lived in forest clearings. During the Bronze Age, the majority of forest was cleared for farmland. The burning and grazing, over several thousand years, has resulted in poor soils which are naturally quite acidic due to the granite rocks. This, together with the exposure to the wind, is why the few trees on the moor today are generally stunted.

  10. Go through the gap in the left wall and follow the hedge along the bottom of the field to a waymark at the end of the hedge.
  11. Bear right at the waymark and follow the path along the side of the hill until you reach another waymark.
  12. From the waymark, bear right onto the track and follow the track downhill a short distance to a second waymark. Turn left along the track (which often has a small stream flowing along it) and follow it until you see a stile on the right.
  13. Cross the stile and follow the waymarked path through the woods until you reach an overgrown field, then turn left along the line of the trees to reach a ladder stile next to a gateway.

    The idea of eating something that can sting you seems wrong until you realise that nettles lose their sting as soon as you cook them, and they taste like spinach. Wearing gloves, strip off the young tender leaves, discarding any large coarse leaves and stems. Use lightly boiled, steamed or wilted as if it were spinach (though not raw unless you want to live dangerously!). All the usual spinach flavour combinations apply (e.g. with ricotta). Nettles are extremely nutritious, containing high levels of vitamin A and C, large amounts of iron and a significant amount of protein.

  14. Cross the stile and turn right, along the track, following it until you reach a stile on the left, marked with a public footpath sign.

    A well-known country remedy for the stings of nettles is to rub the sore area with the leaf of a dock plant. A common misconception is that dock leaves are alkaline and neutralise the acids in the nettle sting but, in reality, docks contain a mild (oxalic) acid. Also the formic acid in nettle venom is at a concentration that is too low to cause a sting, and it is instead a combination of neurotransmitters (histamine, serotonin and acetlycholine) in the venom which causes skin irritation. Although dock is claimed by some to contain a natural antihistamine, no scientific evidence has been found for this. It is thought that it is simply the rubbing and moisture in the leaf which provides a short-term relief/distraction whilst the sting itself is diminishing over time. The most effective relief is likely to be from an antihistamine cream but only if applied quickly enough. Alternatively, almost any moist leaf should provide a little relief, with the exception of another nettle leaf!

  15. Cross the stile and at the junction of paths, go straight ahead, following the path along the left edge of the fir trees until you reach a stile over a wire fence.
  16. Cross the stile and go through a wooded area to a second stile in front of a stream.

    The stream is one of the upper tributaries of the River Lynher.

    The River Lynher (pronounced "liner", as in ocean) is just over 20 miles long, rising on Bodmin Moor and joining the Tamar in its estuary near Saltash. The name dates back to mediaeval times, being recorded as "Lyner" in 1318. It is also known as the St Germans River at the point where it widens into a broad, tidal channel, close to its mouth. The river's resident species include otters, brown trout and Atlantic salmon which breed in its major tributary, the Tiddy.

    During Victorian times, the river was polluted by copper mining waste and during the late 20th century, runoff from intensive dairy farming and an increase in arable farming were found to be affecting water quality and silting the gravel beds needed by spawning salmon. In the early 21st century, a number of these issues were addressed under the Cornwall Rivers Project.

  17. Cross the stile and the stream via some stepping stones, then cross the field passing in front of the small building ahead and bearing left to meet a bank, at the end of which is a waymark.
  18. From the waymark, bear right across the stile and continue to reach a crossing of tracks. Go straight ahead, passing a house on the left and through a gateway, following the track until you see a waymarked stone stile set into the hedge on the right of the track.
  19. Cross the stile into a field and then head straight across the field towards the bottom corner, where there is a waymarked stile behind a telegraph pole about 50m up the hedge from the bank along the bottom of the field.

    If you are crossing a field in which there are horses:

    • Do not approach horses if they have foals, make loud noises nor walk between a foal and its mother as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Generally the best plan is to walk along the hedges.
    • Horses will often approach you as they are used to human contact. If horses approach you, do not run away as this will encourage them to chase you. If you are uncomforable with their proximity, calmly walk away.
    • Do not feed the horses with sweets or otherwise. Some food which is harmless to humans can be deadly to horses.
    • If you have a dog, keep it under close control in a visible but safe place, and as still and quiet as possible.
  20. Cross the stile and descend onto a lane. Turn left on the lane and follow it until you reach the start of the walk.

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.

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