Blisland to Newton Downs

A circular walk from Blisland through Waterloo and across the Trehudreth Downs with panoramic views of Bodmin Moor, returning via the moorland brooks and downs of Newton and Metherin.

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The walk starts out from the Blisland Inn, passes the mediaeval church, and heads down into the Lavethan valley. The route departs from the lane, passing a wayside cross and Holy well, to the river confluence at Waterloo. From here, it climbs out of the valley to Trehudreth Downs, which it crosses to Newton Downs, before dipping into the river valley. The return to Blisland is through fields to Metherin and lanes through Carwen, finally passing Blisland Manor, before reaching the Saxon village green.

Due to footpath issues, this walk currently involves climbing over a fence and down the side of a wall.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 109 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 4.9 miles/7.8 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: Blisland village green
  • Parking: On the edge of the village green PL304JA
  • Recommended footwear: waterproof boots

OS maps for this walk

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)

Highlights

  • Pretty Saxon village of Blisland with a village green and manor
  • Impressively ornate 15th century church
  • Panoramic views from Newton Downs
  • Ancient riverside woodland with bluebells in spring
  • Blisland Inn - winner of the CAMRA National Pub of the Year

Directions

  1. From Blisland Inn, bear left across the village green passing to the left of the swings to reach the lane where a tarmac path crosses the green towards the church.

    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.

  2. Turn left onto the lane and walk past the shop and down a steep hill until you reach a footpath sign and wayside cross on the left.

    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.

  3. Bear left of the road at the footpath sign and cross the stile into a field. Cross the field to the far hedge to reach a gap in the right corner of the far hedge by the fence.

    Many of the fields were arranged in long, thin strips which have subsequently been merged in places to form still relatively long, rectangular fields.

    In mediaeval times, the Anglo-Saxon "stitch meal" technique was adopted in some parts of Cornwall. This involved dividing arable and meadow land into long strips called "stitches". Villagers would be allocated a (usually disconnected) set of strips so that the "best" fields were shared around, as evenly as possible. The long, thin shape was ideal for ploughing with oxen. A typical stitch was one furlong in length and one acre in area, which could be ploughed by a team of oxen in a day.

  4. Go through the gap into the next field and follow the right hedge to a stile.

    In August, blackberries start to ripen on brambles.

    According to folklore, you should not pick blackberries after Michealmas Day (11th October) as this is when the devil claims them. The basis for this is thought to be the potentially toxic moulds which can develop on the blackberries in the cooler, wetter weather.

  5. Cross the stile, descend the steps to the lane and turn right. Follow the lane across the river, and uphill to a junction opposite Waterloo Cottage.

    The river is a tributary of the River Camel which it joins at Tresarrett Bridge near Merry Meeting and was used to power a number of mills. The rest of the walk circles the catchment area of the river on the Newton and Metherin Downs. All the small streams crossed by the walk are tributaries of this river.

  6. Turn left and follow the lane over the stream, past the Old Forge and Trehudreth Mill then up the hill until you eventually reach Poldue Farm then continue a bit further to the very top of the hill to a track on the left leading to a gate by a triangular grassy island.

    The manor of Trehudreth was first recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 as Trewoeret with "land for 2 ploughs, pasture 100 acres". It is thought that other than tre, meaning "farmstead", the place name is based on a personal name which may explain why it has changed so much since mediaeval times.

    Poldue is from the Cornish words pol which could be used to mean either "pool", "pit" or "stream", and dhu, meaning "black". It was first recorded in 1284 as Poldeu.

  7. Turn left at the junction and go through the gate of Wallhouse. Follow the track until you reach a cattle grid.

    As you cross the brow of the hill, there are excellent views of the tors of Bodmin Moor. The rocky one in line with the track is Roughtor. The other distant one with multiple peaks is Brown Willy.

  8. Follow the track left, over the cattle-grid, and continue until you reach a stile on the right.

    Whilst it's fairly obvious why cows are reluctant to cross a cattlegrid, you might be surprised to learn that cows will also not cross a "virtual" cattlegrid composed of dark and light lines painted on a completely solid surface. This even works with wild cattle who have never encountered a "real" cattlegrid before and so is unlikely to be learned behaviour. It is thought that the reason is due to the limitations of cows' vision, specifically their limited depth perception means that they cannot discriminate between bars over a pit and a series of light and dark lines.

  9. Cross the stile on the right and follow the left-hand hedge to a gateway.

    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.
  10. Go through the gateway and cross the field to the gateway opposite.

    The settlement of Wallhouse was recorded in 1302 as La Walles. The walls mentioned in the name might refer to some of the nearby prehistoric remains.

  11. Go through the gateway and cross the field to a wooden stile to the left of the metal gate opposite.

    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.

  12. Climb the stile and carefully cross over the stream to the grass opposite. Then make for the footbridge on the other side.
  13. Cross the footbridge and bear right slightly, to the rightmost pile of rocks on the horizon.

    The piles of rocks, known as field clearance cairns, consist of the granite boulders that were originally strewn across this field.

    The word granite comes from the Latin granum (a grain), in reference to its coarse-grained structure. Granite forms from a big blob of magma (known as a pluton) which intrudes into the existing rocks. The huge mass of molten rock stores an enormous amount of heat so the magma cools very slowly below the surface of the Earth, allowing plenty of time for large crystals to form.

  14. Turn right at the rocks, and head across the field, in the direction of the tor in the distance, to reach a granite boulder below the fence.
  15. Cross the fence wherever you can. Once in the next field, head towards the clump of trees. As you approach, head towards the wall to the right of the trees to reach a tarmac track.
  16. Turn right onto the track and follow it away from the farm. Follow it across the moor until it ends in a T-junction onto a small lane.
  17. Turn left and follow the lane through the settlement and across the moor until it also ends in a T-junction.
  18. Turn left and follow the lane for just over a mile until it ends in a junction in Blisland.
  19. Turn left then almost immediately right to follow the lane along the edge of the green to the Blisland Inn.

    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.

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).

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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