The Camelford Way

A short and easy circular walk from Camelford along the wildflower-rich meadows of the River Camel to the clapper bridge at Fenteroon, returning through the fields with views over the Camel Valley.

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The app will direct you via satnav the start of the walk.
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Each time there is a new direction to follow, the app will beep to remind you, and will warn you if you go off-route.
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Detailed, triple-tested directions are also included.
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Each walk includes lots of information about the history and nature along the route.
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The walk enters Camelford's market square and then follows a footpath to the River Camel. The route then follows the river along a wooded valley to Fenteroon Bridge. The return route is on footpaths through fields and finally passing along Camelford's high street.

Reviews

This is a lovely, gentle country walk.
A lovely little walk.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 109
  • Distance: 1.8 miles/2.9 km
  • Grade: Easy
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes or boots

OS maps for this walk

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

Highlights

  • The old market town of Camelford
  • Pretty riverside scenery along the River Camel
  • Wild garlic and bluebells at Fenteroon Bridge in spring
  • Views across the Camel Valley from the fields around Fenteroon Farm

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Darlington Inn
  • The Masons Arms

Directions

  1. From the car park, turn right onto Market Place, towards the main village. Cross the road at the traffic lights so that you are on the same side of the road as the Mason's Arms. Continue up the street until you reach the alleyway marked "Riverside walk" immediately before the Needle and Thread shop.

    Camelford is a market town on the edge of Bodmin Moor. Camelford gained its status as a town in 1259 after being granted its first Charter by King Henry III. In the town centre, the library was once the Town Hall; the cobbled area that it stands in used to be the market square. Camelford Town hall was erected in 1806 over the Market House, where in the early 1800s, a wife could be bought for 2-3 shillings!

    More about wife selling in Cornwall.

  2. Turn left down the alleyway marked "Riverside walk" and follow the footpath along the river, crossing via the footbridges partway along. Continue along the river until it goes under the road at Fenteroon Bridge and the path emerges on the road beside an iron railing.

    The River Camel runs for 30 miles from Bodmin Moor to Padstow Bay, making it the longest river in Cornwall after the Tamar.

    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".

  3. Turn right and follow the lane uphill until you reach a set of steps on the right with an iron railing.

    Fenteroon Bridge is a very sturdy version of an ancient form of bridge known as a Clapper Bridge built out of granite slabs spanning piers in the river. The exact age is not known though it is estimated to be some time in the 17th or 18th centuries as the engineering is impressively heavyweight and this has allowed it to be adapted for use as a road bridge. The strong bridge would have allowed heavy loads to be brought from the moorland villages into Camelford for sale in the market.

  4. Climb the steps and follow the driveway ahead, marked with a public footpath sign, to reach a pair of waymarked steps on your left just past the field gate.

    In spring, the woods either side of the lane are carpeted in wild garlic

    Like its domesticated relatives, wild garlic grows from a bulb. To distinguish it from other wild plants from the onion/garlic family (such as the three-cornered leek), the species sometimes just called "wild garlic" (Allium ursinum) is often known by the name ramsons or broad-leaf garlic. The scientific name (meaning bear leek) is because the bulbs are thought to be a favourite food of brown bears on the European mainland.

    In the other direction, the lane leads up onto the edge of Bodmin Moor where streams and Crowdy Reservoir feed into the River Camel.

    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.

  5. Climb the steps and follow the path parallel to the fence to an iron kissing gate, to the left of the gateway in the bottom-right corner of the field.

    The settlement of Fenteroon is likely to date from early mediaeval times and records have been found as far back as the 13th Century. The name is from the Cornish word fenten meaning "spring". The name today would strongly suggest an overall meaning of "moorland spring" but in 1292 it was recorded as Fentenwenweht which makes this less certain. The current house is thought to date from the 19th Century and is depicted on the 1st edition OS map from the 1880s

  6. Go through the gate and cross the field to another iron kissing gate in the top corner of the hedge ahead.

    The reason moles create tunnels is that these act as worm traps. When a worm drops in, the mole dashes to it and gives it a nip. Mole saliva contains a toxin that paralyses earthworms and the immobilised live worms are stored in an underground larder for later consumption. Researchers have discovered some very well-stocked larders with over a thousand earthworms in them! To prepare their meal, moles pull the worms between their paws to force the earth out of the worm's gut.

  7. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge to a third iron kissing gate.

    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. The Ramblers Association and National Farmers Union suggest some "dos and don'ts" for walkers which we've collated with some info from the local Countryside Access team:

    Do

    • Stop, look and listen on entering a field. Look out for any animals and watch how they are behaving, particularly bulls or cows with calves
    • Be prepared for farm animals to react to your presence, especially if you have a dog with you.
    • Try to avoid getting between cows and their calves.
    • Move quickly and quietly, and if possible walk around the herd.
    • Keep your dog close and under effective control on a lead around cows and sheep.
    • Remember to close gates behind you when walking through fields containing livestock.
    • If you and your dog feel threatened, work your way to the field boundary and quietly make your way to safety.
    • Report any dangerous incidents to the Cornwall Council Countryside Access Team - phone 0300 1234 202 for emergencies or for non-emergencies use the iWalk Cornwall app to report a footpath issue (via the menu next to the direction on the directions screen).

    Don't

    • If you are threatened by cattle, don't hang onto your dog: let it go to allow the dog to run to safety.
    • Don't put yourself at risk. Find another way around the cattle and rejoin the footpath as soon as possible.
    • Don't panic or run. Most cattle will stop before they reach you. If they follow, just walk on quietly.
  8. Go through the gate and follow the left hedge to a gateway.

    The fields on the opposite side of Camel Valley are used for grazing.

    Since 1984, the European Common Market agricultural policy to restrict milk production has reduced dairy herds and prompted shifts to beef and lamb production, and arable crops such as maize and oilseed rape. Two large buyers of Cornish milk - Rodda's for their clotted cream and Diary Crest for the production of Davidstow and Cathedral City cheeses - have helped to buffer the Cornish dairy industry from this to some degree. Post-Brexit and also in response to the risk from pandemics, there is speculation that Britain may become more agriculturally self-sufficient which could change the dynamics once again.

    The rocky hill in the distance is Roughtor.

  9. Go through the gateway and follow the left hedge to join a path which emerges onto the road.

    Camelford's parish church is roughly a mile to your left, nearly half-way between Camelford and St Teath. This is likely to have been a contributing factor to the popularity of Methodism here in the 18th and 19th Centuries. By the mid-19th Century, Camelford had three active methodist chapels.

    Methodist services were held in the cottages which was attractive to women who needed to look after young children, and in the many villages where the parish church was more than a mile away or at the top of a steep hill. This helped to make Methodism very popular in Cornwall and through the late 18th and the 19th Century, many chapels were built in the centre of the villages.

  10. Turn right and follow the road back into Camelford.

    Unfortunately Victorian Methodism didn't offer much improvement in terms of romance over buying wives in the market house.

    Documented in 1865, the following was supposedly an old Cornish tradition:

    To Choose a Wife: Ascertain the date of the month of the young woman's birth, and refer to the last chapter of Proverbs in the Bible. Each verse from 1st to the 31st is supposed to indicate, either directly or indirectly, the character, and to guide the searcher - the verse corresponding with her birth date indicating the woman's character.

    However, it's probable the rural traditions involving copious amounts of ale and cider have a much longer heritage and were possibly more conducive to wedlock.

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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