Warbstow Cross and Bury

The walk starts at Warbstow Bury car park and crosses the ramparts through the central area of the Iron Age hill fort. The route then circles along paths through fields and small lanes through some of the nearby hamlets, passing Warbstow church on the return route.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 111 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 2.6 miles/4.2 km
  • Grade: Easy-moderate
  • Start from: Warbstow Bury car park
  • Parking: Warbstow Bury car park. The car park is about 100 metres out of Warbstow Cross towards Hallworthy on the Hallworthy-Canworthy Water road Satnav: PL158RH
  • Recommended footwear: waterproof boots (crosses a marsh)

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • Warbstow Bury - remains of a huge Iron Age hillfort
  • Panoramic views of the surrounding countryside from the Bury
  • Historic church at Warbstow
  • Winding country lanes and tracks, lined with wildflowers in spring and summer

Adjoining walks

Directions

  1. From the car park go through the gate to reach the hill fort and continue ahead through the gaps in the ramparts to reach a level area at the top. Cross this to the opening opposite.

    Warbstow Bury is the second largest and best-preserved Iron Age fort in Cornwall with massive ramparts. It was built approximately 2500 years ago as a tribal stronghold and residence of the local aristocracy, and was probably abandoned in the first century AD after the Roman conquest. There are panoramic views over the surrounding countryside on a clear day. It was once the venue for an annual gathering of Methodists from the circuits of Camelford, Holsworthy and Launceston who assembled here on Whit Tuesday for an open air service.

  2. As you come through the opening out of the central area, bear right through a larger opening in the outer circle (rather than straight ahead to a small one) to a gate.

    The purpose of enclosures within ramparts varied quite considerably. Some were built as forts to defend from marauding invaders such as the seafaring Scandanavians. Others were defences built around small villages either as a status symbol/deterrent or for the more practical purpose of preventing domestic crimes such as theft of property by occupants of neighbouring villages. There were even some which were probably just a confined space used to stop livestock escaping!

  3. Go through the gate and continue ahead across the field to a gate in the fence opposite.
  4. Go through the gate and continue ahead to the gate next to the barn in the corner of the field.
  5. Go through the gate and turn right onto the lane. Follow the lane a short distance to a junction.

    The parish of Warbstow is one of the few left in England to still have an exclave (an "island" of the parish contained within another). The main body of the parish includes the villages of Warbstow, Warbstow Cross and Trelash and a number of hamlets. The exclave, separated from the main part by about 150m, includes the hamlet of Canworthy Water.

  6. Turn right onto the lane signposted Week St Mary. Follow the lane for about a quarter of a mile, to Hendra Cottage.

    Hendra Cottage was recorded on the first OS map of 1888.

    Hendra is a common Cornish place name meaning "home farm" (from the Cornish word hendre which itself is based on the words hen meaning old, and dre is equivalent to tre). Hendra was also used as a boy's first name with the meaning literally "from the family farm".

  7. Turn right onto the track in front of the cottage, and follow this to the farmyard.

    The settlement of Hendra dates from early mediaeval times and was first recorded in 1284.

  8. At the end of the track, bear right past the metal gates to join a concrete track. Follow this over a cattle grid to a gate leading onto a grassy track.
  9. Go through the gate, and follow the grassy track ahead. Follow the track along the left hedge and continue ahead over a stream to a metal gate.

    The name for the parish of Warbstow is taken from the nun, St Waerburgha, who was daughter of a 7th century Anglo-Saxon king. Her relics, at Chester, were an object of pilgrimage in the Middle Ages. The church has been dedicated to St Waerburgha for at least 1000 years, presumably by the Saxon settlers.

  10. Go through the gate and bear left around the marsh ahead into the field. Then follow the right hedge to the top of the field, to a gate ahead.

    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.

  11. Go through the gate and the one ahead then keep left at the barn. Follow the track between the buildings and onwards until it eventually emerges onto a road at Warbstow Cross.

    The farm, known as Tredown, sounds like it might be Cornish but is actually an English name meaning "at the downs". The first mention of the settlement was in the 16th Century.

  12. Bear right, across the road to a lane opposite, signposted "Parish Church". Follow this past the school, to a junction by the Community Centre.

    In the past, Warbstow parish had no principal village: it essentially consisted of scattered farms and smallholdings, plus a number of small hamlets such as that near the Church and at Warbstow Cross, Downinney, Trelash and Canworthy Water. Treswen, near Warbstow Cross, was one of the most important farms in the parish, farmed since the early 1800s by the Gynn family.

  13. At the junction, bear left to stay on the lane and follow it to a junction with a narrow lane on the right.

    Warbstow is a parish in north-east Cornwall alongside the River Ottery. Warburghstow was mentioned in the Domesday Book in 1086. The original manor house of Downwinney stood at one end of the village green, but only the Norman door, porch, and an upstairs window have survived.

  14. Turn right at the junction and follow the lane to the church.

    Beech trees are planted along the hedge and drop beechnuts onto the road.

    Compared to many native trees, the beech colonised Great Britain relatively recently, after the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago.

    The fruit of the beech tree is known as "mast" or, less crypically, "beechnuts". The small triangular nuts are encased in spiky husks which split and drop from the trees from late August to early October. The kernels of these are edible and are similar to hazelnuts. They were once used as a source of flour, which was ground after the tannins had been leached out by soaking them in water. If you find them too bitter, you might want to try this trick, although toasting them in a hot pan is also a good option.

    Young beech leaves can be used as a salad vegetable, which are described as being similar to a mild cabbage, though much softer in texture. Older leaves are a bit chewy, as you'd expect.

  15. From the church, follow the lane downhill to a bend where a lane departs ahead.

    The parish churchin Warbstow was originally Norman, but largely rebuilt in the 15th century. However its site on a small hill, surrounded by a circular bank, strongly suggests that the churchyard is celtic in origin.

  16. At the bend, follow the lane ahead leading uphill. Continue, as this turns into a track, to a gate opposite the Warbstow Bury car park, and carefully cross the road to complete the circular route.

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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