St Breward to Advent

From church, the walk crosses a network of small fields tucked between the moorland and river valleys. The route crosses the top of the gorge above Devil's Jump, before continuing through fields to the wayside cross at Tresinney. The walk reaches its northernmost point at Advent Church, turning back through Tresinney, and heading south, along the edge of the Camel valley, to the remains of the mediaeval village at Carwether. The walk continues along the Camel valley, returning to St Breward via the bluebell woodland at Tuckingmill.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 109 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 6.4 miles/10.3 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: St Breward Church
  • Parking: On roadside next to church. Follow signs to the Old Inn. The church is next to the pub. Note that the pub car park is for customers only. Satnav: PL304PP
  • Recommended footwear: walking boots

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Panoramic views over Bodmin Moor from the remains of Carwether mediaeval village
  • St Breward Church - the highest church in Cornwall
  • Nice views over the Devil's Jump crags
  • Impressive 8ft tall wayside cross at Tresinney
  • Advent Church set in a churchyard dating back to Celtic times
  • Local food and drink at the historic Old Inn in St Breward

Directions

  1. Follow the lane towards the Old Inn to reach a track with a Public Footpath sign on the left. Turn left onto this and follow it to reach a waymarked stile on the left.

    St Breward church claims to be the highest in the county. The tall tower can be seen easily, for many miles around. The church dates from the Middle Ages (1278).

  2. Cross the stile, then cross the field to a stile next to the gate.

    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.
  3. Cross the stile and head across the field to a stile, next to the gateway, in the opposite hedge.
  4. Cross the stile and head straight across the field to the right of a series of conifers, to a stile next to the 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 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.
  5. Cross the stile and follow along the right hedge, then continue across the field to the opposite corner to reach a waymarked stile to the left of the gate.

    Ribwort plantain is a common weed on cultivated land with unmistakable black seed heads on the end of tall stalks often with a halo of white flowers. Generations of children have worked out that by knotting the stem, the seed head can be launched as a projectile at unsuspecting adults.

    A tea made from the leaves is a popular herbal remedy used as a cough medicine. Care should be taken where the plant is harvested as it is not only highly tolerant of high metal levels in the soil but also accumulates these. It will even tolerate and accumulate arsenic which is normally toxic to plants. It therefore has the potential to be used for cleansing soils contaminated with mine waste.

  6. Cross the stile into a large field and follow the left hedge to a waymarked opening.
  7. Go through the opening and then straight ahead across the field to a waymarked stile just to the left of the telegraph pole ahead.

    In Celtic times, fields were small and surrounded by banks or stone walls. The fields were used both for growing crops such as oats, wheat or rye, and for keeping livestock. The field shape was round or square, rather than rectangular, so that the stones didn't have to be carried further than necessary. The small size was because they needed to be weeded by hand, in many ways similar to a modern-day allotment.

  8. Cross the stile onto the lane and cross the stile opposite. Follow the wall on the right until you reach a corner, then bear left downhill to a stile.
  9. Cross the wooden and stone stiles and turn right onto the lane. Follow the lane along the edge of some woods until you reach a junction.

    Mosses reproduce with tiny spores rather than seeds. Many mosses use wind to carry their spores but Spagnum (peat) mosses use compressed air to launch theirs. To get an idea of the acceleration that the spores are launched with, an astronaut in a rocket launch experiences an acceleration g-force of about 3-g and the maximum in a fighter jet is about 9-g. Spagnum moss spores are accelerated at 36,000-g! If that caused you to spill your cider, mosses are also able to absorb around 20 times their own weight in liquid.

  10. At the junction, bear left to stay on the lane. Follow it to a left bend where you can see a stile through the trees on the right.

    Robins are able to hover like kingfishers and hummingbirds and use this skill when feeding from bird feeders, which they are unable to cling to. Robins are also able to see magnetic fields. Receptors in their eyes make magnetic fields appear as patterns of light or colour which allows them to use the Earth's magnetic field for navigation. The tradition of robins on Christmas cards is thought to arise from Victorian postmen wearing red jackets and been nicknamed Robins.

    The Cornish name for the bird is rudhek from rudh = "red" (in Cornish, "dh" is pronounced like the "th" in "with"). Cornish place names like Bedruthan, Ruthern and Redruth are all based on the colour red.

  11. Bear right to the stile and cross it into a long, thin field. Follow the right fence then bear left to stay in the field and pass an opening. Continue along right-hand hedge of the field to reach a waymarked stile.

    The hawthorn tree is most often found in hedgerows where it was used to create a barrier for livestock, and in fact haw was the Old English word for "hedge".

  12. Cross the stile and head straight across the next field to a stile.

    The farm on the hill on the right is called Cargelley (which has hardly changed since 1332 when it was recorded as Cargelly). The name is thought to be based on the Cornish words for fort (ker) and small wood (kelli). The location overlooking the valley would be consistent with some kind of hillfort being situated there in the Iron Age. Field names here such as "The Round" also support this but no physical remains have been found.

  13. Climb the stile and descend the steps to the track. Turn left onto the track and follow it uphill to a gate into Newton Farm.

    The settlement of Newton was first recorded in 1371 as Niwaton. The name is mediaeval English for "new farm".

  14. Go through the gate and follow the track past the house to join the driveway leading from the farm. Follow this until it eventually ends in a T-junction with a lane.

    From the farm lane, there are excellent views of Roughtor, to the right.

    Rough Tor is the second highest peak on Bodmin Moor. It is pronouced "row-tor" because the local dialect word "row" meant "rough". The summit of Rough Tor is encircled by a series of rough Neolithic stone walls which link natural outcrops, to form a tor enclosure. Also on the summit are the foundations of a mediaeval chapel, built into the side of one of the larger cairns.

  15. Cross the lane and take the footpath opposite, over the stone stile and through some trees to reach a stile.

    The huge granite crags either side of the valley are known as Devil's Jump.

    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.

    Granite mostly contains slightly acidic chemical compounds, and consequently there is nothing to neutralise acids arising from plant decay and carbon dioxide dissolved in rainwater, resulting in acidic moorland soils.

  16. Cross the two stiles and go straight ahead across the field. When you cross the brow of the hill, head between the trees to the footbridge over the river.

    The river appears not to be named on any maps but is mentioned in some places as the "Hannon River". This may be a corruption of Henon - a small settlement that the walk passes through later on. The river is a fairly major tributary of the Camel, collecting water from Stannon Moor and beneath Roughtor. It is joined by the overflow from Crowdy Reservoir at the top of the valley.

  17. Cross the bridge and bear left to reach a junction of paths. Follow the path leading uphill until it ends on a track.

    In 1988 at the water treatment works at Crowdy Reservoir, aluminium sulphate (which is used in very small quantities to remove suspended particles as part of the water treatment process) was accidentally poured from a tanker into the wrong hatch. Rather than going into a storage tank it went directly into the drinking water for 20,000 - 30,000 people and resulted in Britain's worst mass poisoning incident. One the contamination was discovered, the water supply was flushed into rivers feeding into the River Camel which resulting in the deaths of 60,000 salmon and trout. Fortunately the fish population has recovered since then and the Camel river system now has very good water quality and fish stocks.

  18. Turn left onto the track and follow it to a waymarked opening into a field.
  19. Turn left and follow the left hedge to a waymarked opening.

    Bracken releases toxins into the soil which inhibit the growth of other plants, and the shade created by its large leaves and its thick leaf litter also makes it hard for other plants to compete. It is both poisonous and carcinogenic to many grazing animals which therefore avoid it if at all possible. All these things make it quite difficult to control, particularly in steep areas where mechanised cutting or ploughing is difficult. Treading by livestock can reduce bracken's competitive advantage, particularly during winter when frost can attack the plants.

  20. Go through the gap and head towards the top right corner to reach a waymarked gate in the far hedge.

    As you approach the gateway on the far side of the field, there are nice views of Devil's Jump crag on your left.

  21. Go through the gateway and head towards a wooden post in the far right corner of the field to reach a gateway.
  22. Go through the gateway and turn left. Then cross the field to the gateway.
  23. In the last field, follow the right hedge to a gate. Go through this to emerge on a farm track.

    The farm dates to mediaeval times and was recorded in 1422 as Tor. It is thought to be a reference to the crags of Devil's Jump.

  24. Turn left on the track and follow it to where it ends in front of The Shippon. Then bear right to the gate of Tor Barn.

    Tors are the result of millions of years of weathering. They started out as a molten blob of rock beneath the surface, which cooled and crystallised into granite, cracking (mostly vertically) as it cooled. Hot water circulated through the cracks, reacting chemically with the rocks and depositing minerals. As the softer rocks above were worn away fairly quickly, the reduction in pressure from the weight of the rock above caused the granite to crack (this time more horizontally). Water, acidic from carbon dioxide in the air, circulated in the cracks, causing weathering. Repeated freezing and thawing during Ice Ages caused blocks of varying sizes to break off. The "basins" on the tops of some of the tors are also the result of repeated freezing and thawing of water which has collected on the surface.

  25. Go through the gate and continue between the buildings to reach a fence with a gate. Turn right to keep the fence on your left and follow along it to reach a stile.
  26. Cross the stile and go straight ahead when you enter the field to meet the left hedge, then follow it to reach a gateway in the corner of the field.

    If there are sheep in the field and you have a dog, make sure it's securely on its lead (sheep are prone to panic and injuring themselves even if a dog is just being inquisitive). If the sheep start bleeting, this means they are scared and they are liable to panic. If there are pregnant sheep in the field, be particularly sensitive as a scare can cause the lambs to be stillborn. If there are sheep in the field with lambs, avoid approaching them closely, making loud noises or walking between a lamb and its mother, as you may provoke the mother to defend her young. Sheep may look cute but if provoked they can cause serious injury (hence the verb "to ram"). Generally, the best plan is to walk quietly along the hedges and they will move away or ignore you.

  27. Go through the gateway and follow the left hedge to a metal gate about half-way along where a small path departs into the bushes ahead.
  28. From the opening, follow the path between the two hedges and go through the gate when you reach it. Follow the path until it comes out onto a farm track.

    Be careful of the nettles along this section.

    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.

  29. Continue following the track until it ends at a gate onto a lane.

    Trewint is thought to be from the Cornish for "windy farm" (the Cornish word for wind is guyns which sounds closer than it looks written down). The settlement was first recorded in 1292 but is likely date back to early mediaeval times.

  30. Go through the gate and turn left. Follow the lane a short distance to reach a waymarked gate on the right.
  31. At the bend, go through the right hand (waymarked) gate, then through the gate immediately on the left. Follow the left hedge across the small field to a gate.
  32. Go through the gate and along a short track. Just before the end of the track, climb the stone steps on the right and go through the gate into a field. Follow the left hedge to a waymarked stile in the corner of the field.
  33. Cross the stile and bear right across the next field to a gate at the top of the far hedge.
  34. Go through the gateway and turn immediately right to a stile. Cross this and the next stile into the field above. Then turn left and follow the left hedge to a stile fairly hidden in the bushes in the left corner, past the gateway.
  35. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge until you reach a waymarked stile, roughly a third of the way along.
  36. Cross the stile and head to a stile in the opposite hedge roughly ten metres to the right of the far left corner of the fence.

    The huge wayside cross in the field is known as Tresinney Cross.

    Tresinney Cross is a round-headed wayside cross in the parish of Advent. The cross is over 8ft high and has stood since Norman times beside the ancient path to Advent church.

  37. Cross the stile and take the footpath over a stile on the other side of the lane. Cross the field to a waymarked stile on the right side of the churchyard.

    There are said to be 360 wayside crosses in Cornwall. In the mediaeval period, stone crosses were sometimes placed by the road or path. There have been various reasons for erecting these: markers placed along routes used by Christian pilgrims, or as a shrine in reverence, perhaps to a saint who has some connection to the locality. Others mark burial sites, a disaster, a miracle, or some other event that should be remembered. In some cases, they were erected to mark meeting places for Christian worship and later churches were built adjacent to the cross, resulting in the cross being within the churchyard or close by.

  38. Cross the stile on your left and go through the gate into the churchyard. Keep left along the path to reach the church entrance.

    Advent (St Adwenna's) Church is located in the parish of Advent on the north-west edge of Bodmin Moor, near Camelford.The church is dedicated to Adwen, one of the children of the legendary 5th Century Celtic king Brychan. It is notable for its high, 8-pinnacled tower which houses a ring of six bells. The church building you see today at Advent is mostly mediaeval with some Norman remnants - the greater part of the building dates from the 15th century. The interior was rebuilt when a snowstorm brought the roof down in Victorian times. The circular shape of the graveyard at Advent church suggests it dates back to Celtic times.

  39. After exploring the church, go through the black gates out of the churchyard and turn left to follow the track until it ends in a lane.

    Scholars speculate that the Celtic Cross (a crucifix with a circular ring) developed from the sun cross (a cross inside a circle), a common symbol in artefacts of Prehistoric Europe, particularly during the Neolithic to Bronze Age periods. When Christianity came to the celtic regions, Christians extended the bottom spoke of this familiar symbol, to remind them of the cross on which their new Saviour was crucified.

  40. Turn right onto the lane and follow it, passing a junction to the right, to a T-junction.
  41. Turn left at the T-junction and follow the lane downhill for about quarter of a mile until you reach a public footpath sign on the left at a kink in the road.

    The settlement of Tresinney was first recorded in 1320 as Tresyny. A book on Cornish Place Name Elements suggests that the "res" in the name might have been from the Cornish word ros meaning "hill spur" as the settlement is located on a topographical peninsula between 2 streams. Our suggestion is that the name may also possibly derive from the Cornish word enys - for island - which was also used at Ninnis Farm near Truro to describe it being surrounded by streams on three sides, although in this case it could also apply to the small island of land between the three roads.

  42. Take the footpath to the left, up the bank and over a stile at the top. Cross the field to the stile about one third of the way along the far hedge from the right-hand corner.
  43. Cross the stile into a field and follow the left hedge to a gateway in the left corner of the far hedge.
  44. Go through the gate that is facing you, ignoring the two before it on the left. Follow the left-hand hedge of the field to a gate in the far corner.
  45. Go through the gate and continue ahead to the ford. Cross the stone footbridge and follow the track to a gate on the other side.

    The ford crosses the river that you crossed earlier on the walk near Devil's Jump. A few metres downstream from the ford is the confluence with the River Camel.

    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.

  46. From the gate, follow the track through the woodland and up a gentle slope, passing between two cottages. Continue, up a slightly steeper slope, until you reach a barn on your right.

    The valley with Devil's Jump has been recorded as the "Hannon" valley but is probably more correctly Henon valley after the settlement of Henon here. Henon itself was recorded in 1201 as Hethenant. The name is thought to be from the Cornish words hetch (meaning either "barley" or "peace") and nans (valley). "Peaceful valley" is probably the most likely gist as the north-facing position of Henon is not a good location for arable crops.

  47. At the barn, bear left onto a narrow path and follow this to a gate.
  48. Go through the gate and bear right into a field. Follow the right-hand hedge until you reach a fence with a gate and a stile to the left of it.

    Carwether Village is the remains of a mediaeval hamlet, covering about one hectare of a hillside to the north of St Breward. It consisted of three longhouses, several ancillary buildings and some paddocks or garden plots. The buildings are arranged randomly along the valley side. Traces of ridge and furrow cultivation can be seen and the settlement is surrounded by an extensive strip field system.

  49. Cross the stile into the field below, then turn left and follow the fence to reach a stone wall with a waymark indicating the position of the stile.

    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.

  50. Cross the wall via the stone stile, and bear left uphill slightly to follow along the edge of the gorse and reach another stile over a wall.

    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.

  51. Climb the wall via the stile, and head straight across the field to a granite post in the direction of the church tower on the skyline.
  52. From the granite post, keep heading for the church until you can see the barn. Then head to the waymarked gate on the left of the barn.
  53. Go through the gate and follow the track away from the farm, past some animal pens. Before the track bends to the left, bear right to the rightmost gateway which is waymarked.

    Although it's obvious that you should ensure any gates that you open, you also close, what about gates you find that are already open?

    If the gate is fully open then leave it alone as it may well be providing livestock access to a water supply, and by closing it you could end up killing them.

    If the gate is ajar but not latched then it's possible that the gate was left open a by previous group of walkers. Properly closing the offending gate behind you will not only bring joy to the landowner but you can feel good about saving a small child from being run over by a car swerving to avoid a cow in the road.

  54. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge of this field until you see a gate in the bottom hedge; then make for this.
  55. Go through the gate onto a track. Turn right and follow the track until it ends in a T-junction with the road.

    Hematethy was first recorded in the Domesday survey of 1086 as the manor of Hamotedi. The name is though to be from the Cornish word havos meaning "summer dwelling". The implication is that settlement was initially a summer camp that gradually became a year-round dwelling. Eventually it became an extensive manor with a mediaeval chapel. Map evidence suggest that the original settlement might have been at Lower Hematethy and the larger Hematethy came into being during Victorian times.

  56. Turn left onto the road and follow it around the hairpin bend to the right and up the hill to where a track leaves from the right, marked with a dead end sign and a large piece of granite.
  57. Turn right and follow the track until you reach a waymarked footpath on the left, just before the house.
  58. Turn left and follow the path along the wall to a pedestrian gate. Go through this can keep following the path along the wall to reach a stile.

    Some estimates suggest the UK has up to half of the world's total bluebell population; nowhere else in the world do they grow in such abundance. However, the poor bluebell faces a number of threats including climate change and hybridisation from garden plants. In the past, there has also been large-scale unsustainable removal of bulbs for sale although it is now a criminal offence to remove the bulbs of wild bluebells.

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  59. Cross the stile and carry on to the end of the wall. Then continue ahead a few more paces to reach a waymark at a junction of paths.

    During periods of cold weather, spring flowers, such as bluebells, have already started the process of growth by preparing leaves and flowers in underground bulbs during summer and autumn. They are then able to grow in the cold of winter, or early spring, by using these resources stored in their bulb. Once they have flowered, the leaves die off and the cycle begins again.

    Other species (such as cow parsley or dandelions) require warm weather before they are able to germinate and grow. With the warmer springs induced by climate change, bluebells lose their 'early start' advantage, and can be out-competed.

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  60. At the waymark, bear left (not right, in the direction indicated). Then bear left again onto a path leading uphill and follow this until you reach a stone stile.
  61. Cross the stile and walk across the small enclosure to a gate on the other side.
  62. Go through the two gates and continue a short distance to a path. Turn left and follow the winding path across the common to emerge onto a lane.

    St Breward is on the northwest side of Bodmin moor and the parish covers both Roughtor and Brown Willy. The name of the village is said by some to come from the 6th century Cornish Saint Branwalader. Others say it is from a 13th century bishop of Exeter. Previously the village was called Simonward which, according to legend, was the name of the brewer to King Arthur's household although that might have been concocted in the Old Inn after a few ales.

  63. Turn right on the lane, towards the church and pub to complete the circular route.

    The Old Inn in St Breward dates back to the 11th Century when it provided shelter for the monks who built the neighbouring church, and claims to be Cornwall's highest Inn. There is an open fire in winter in the 11th Century granite fireplace. The pub was used as the setting for the TV comedy drama, Doc Martin, when the baby was born to the main characters.

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

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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