Jacobstow to Poulza

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The walk begins at Jacobstow then follows country lanes and tracks to the farm hamlet of Poulza. A footpath departs from the farm tracks, through woodland and meadows, then meets a lane to reach South Dinnicombe with views across the fields to Week St Mary. The return route is along a country lane with nice valley views towards Jacobstow.

Reviews

★★★★★ Easy to follow.
A nice, relatively easy walk. You need sturdy boots as at this time of year (October) there are some very muddy parts in the walk.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 111 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 3.4 miles/5.5 km
  • Grade: Easy-moderate
  • Start from: Jacobstow church
  • Parking: Village hall car park EX230NG
  • Recommended footwear: waterproof boots (involves lanes with fords)

OS maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Panoramic views of the rolling countryside between Poulza and South Dinnicombe
  • Winding country lanes and tracks lined with wild flowers in spring and summer
  • Historic buildings including Jacobstow church
  • Woodland rich in wildlife at Poulza
  • Local food and drink at the nearby Old Wainhouse Inn

Directions

  1. From the Parish Hall, turn right onto the lane and follow it downhill to a junction opposite a cottage with a wagon wheel on the wall.
  2. Turn right and follow the lane to a ford at the bottom of the valley.

    The river is the same one you'll cross towards the end of the walk. North of Wainhouse Corner, the valleys on this side of the A39 all feed water into a major tributary of the river at Bude, which merges with the River Strat at Helebridge. Jacobstow is in the upper reaches of this catchment area.

  3. At the ford, cross a small bridge to the left to rejoin the track. Follow the track uphill until you reach a barn on your right.

    Being somewhat away from civilisation, originally, post wasn't delivered to Poulza, but instead to a farm off the Headon Cross main road, consequently known as "Lower Poulza Post". Although no longer the postal hub for Lower Poulza, Lower Poulza Post has carved a new niche for itself as Britain's only naturist farm campsite. Don't bother packing your binoculars though - this walk doesn't pass very close.

  4. Continue past the barn and follow the track around a bend to the left to reach a fork.
  5. At the fork, bear left to stay on the track and keep following it until you see a waymark on the left about 50m before the track ends at a gate.
  6. Turn left at the waymark and follow the footpath into the woods, keeping right along the wall until you reach a stile.

    The woods contain plant species such as wood sorrel, with clover-like leaves and delicate white flowers, which are indicators that the woodland here is ancient. Mixed deciduous woodland such as this is an important habitat supporting a lot of wildlife.

  7. Cross the stile and continue ahead to the metal gates. Go through these by removing the metal pole in the centre then follow the right hedge to a gate in the far corner.

    The number of cows in Cornwall has been estimated at around 75,000 so there's a good chance of encountering some in grassy fields. 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.
  8. Go through the gate and turn left onto a track. Follow the track until it emerges onto a lane.

    In June, there are foxgloves along the track and lane which attract bumblebees.

    The common name "foxglove" dates back many hundreds of years but the origin is unknown. The "gloves" almost certainly refers to the shape of the flowers, and the latin name Digitalis (fingerlike) is along similar lines. The curious part is the "fox" and many different suggestions have been made as to where it came from. It is likely that it is a corruption of another word; possibly "folks" which was once used to mean "fairies".

    Foxgloves are reliant on bumblebees for pollination and bumblebees are much more active when the weather is good. As an insurance policy against bad weather, foxgloves have evolved to stagger their flowering over several weeks, starting with the flowers at the base of the stalk and working up to the top, where the higher flowers protrude over other vegetation that has grown up in that time.

  9. Continue ahead to join the lane and follow it, passing South Dinnicombe farm, until it ends at a T-junction opposite "Little Dinnicombe".

    The pheasant is named after the Ancient town of Phasis (now in West Georgia) and the birds were naturalised in the UK by the 10th Century with introductions both from the Romano-British and the Normans. However, by the 17th Century they had become extinct in most of the British Isles.

    In the 1830s, the pheasant was rediscovered as a gamebird and since then it has been reared extensively for shooting. The pheasant has a life expectancy of less than a year in the wild and it is only common because around 30 million pheasants are released each year on shooting estates.

  10. At the T-junction, turn left and follow the lane back towards Jacobstow until it also ends at a T-junction.

    At the bottom of the valley, the lane crosses a stream, alongside which, wild garlic grows.

    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.

  11. Turn left at the junction, signposted to Jacobstow, and follow the lane to the church.

    The Saxons had a stronghold in northeastern Cornwall, which is reflected in many of the place names (-stow, -bury, -ton, -worthy, -cott, -ham, -ford etc). As you move further west, the Celtic place names (Tre-, Pen-, Lan-) become more common.

  12. From Jacobstow church follow the lane uphill to return to the Parish Hall.

    Jacobstow parish church is dedicated to St James and there is evidence of a former Saxon church on the same site. An ancient altar stone is in the south aisle chapel: it was the main altar stone up to about 1550, in the reign of Edward VI. At this time, the Church of England was becoming more Protestant and an Act required that all altar stones should be removed. This one became a footbridge over a stream. It was found and moved back to the churchyard as a seat in the 1800s, and installed in the south aisle chapel in 1972.

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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