Camel Valley circular walk: Dunmere to Grogley Halt

Dunmere to Grogley Halt

A circular walk along the Camel valley from Dunmere Halt to Grogley Halt on the Camel Trail, passing the Camel Valley vineyard and the Boscarne platform where the Bodmin-Wenford steam trains depart.

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The walk starts at the Borough Arms and follows the River Camel from Dunmere Halt to Nanstallon. The route continues along the Camel Valley to Grogley and crosses the river to Grogley Halt. The walk returns along the Camel Trail to Dunmere Halt via the Camel Valley Vineyard and Boscarne Station.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 107
  • Distance: 5.3 miles/8.5 km
  • Steepness grade: Easy
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes, or trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 107 OS Explorer 107 (laminated version)

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


  • Pretty riverside scenery along the Camel
  • Wildflowers in spring including bluebells and wild garlic
  • Bodmin-Wenford steam railway
  • Camel Valley Vineyard - producer of some of the world's best sparkling wine

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Borough Arms


  1. From the bottom of the car park, walk down the track to the Camel Trail and turn left at Dunmere Halt. Follow the trail until, just past a small building on the right, you reach a path to the left immediately after a wooden post with a shared trail sign.

    The Camel Trail is a recreational walking and cycling track along the track bed of an old railway running from Wenfordbridge to Padstow. The railway, where the Camel Trail now runs, was originally built in 1831 by local landowner, Sir William Molesworth of Pencarrow. The line from Wadebridge to Wenfordbridge, with a branch to Bodmin, was intended to carry sand from the Camel estuary to inland farms for use as fertiliser. Later, the railway was used to ship slate and china clay from inland quarries to ships in Padstow and also transport fish, landed in Padstow, to London and other cities. The last passenger train was in 1967 and freight finally ceased in 1983, when a need to invest in new track forced closure of the line.

  2. Take the footpath to the left. Follow it until you pass a flight of steps on the left and reach a junction of paths where a path departs downhill to the river.

    If you're walking here in spring, look out for the brilliant red and purple flowers of the rhododendrons which grow along this section of the trail.

    Honey made with rhododendron pollen can be poisonous to humans, causing severe low blood pressure and low heart rate if enough is eaten. Rhododendron honey is used in Nepal as a hallucinogenic drug.

  3. Take the path leading down to the river. As you approach the river, bear left up the steps to follow the footpath along the river bank, beneath a bridge downriver, to a gate.

    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".

  4. Go through the gate and continue on the path along the edge of the meadow to a footbridge.

    A number of Roman artefacts were found near Boscarne, recorded in the New Monthly Magazine of Sep 1822:

    A few days since was found near Boscarne, in the parish of Bodmin, a gold fish-hook... in the bed of an old river, where some men were working for tin; and not far from the same spot were taken up several Roman coins of the reigns of Vespasian, and some of the later emperors, &c.
  5. From the footbridge, continue along the fence beside the meadow and follow the path until it forks after a section of wooden fence. Take either path (which rejoin) to reach a gate onto a concrete track.

    Anyone who has sat on a holly leaf will know how prickly they can be but the leaves particularly on larger holly bushes often vary considerably with less spiky leaves nearer the top.

    Holly is able to vary its leaf shape in response to its environment through a chemical process known as DNA methylation which can be used to switch genes on and off. If its leaves are eaten by grazing animals or trampled by walkers, the holly will crank up the methylation level to produce really spiky leaves on these stems. Conversely on the stems where the leaves are able to grow old in peace, the holly will produce versions that are flatter and therefore more efficient at catching the light. An individual leaf can last up to five years.

  6. Go through the gate and turn left onto the concrete track. Follow this uphill until it ends at a T-junction onto a lane.

    A large amount of wild garlic grows in the wooded area to the left of the path from the stile to the track.

    Unlike their more versatile narrow-leaved cousins the three-cornered leeks, ramsons grow mainly in shady places such as woodland. Their broad leaves are solar panels that have evolved to capture the weak winter light early in the year before the trees are in leaf. They are an indicator that woodland is ancient and has provided a shady environment over a long period to colonise.

    The earliest recorded use of concrete was around 6500 BC in Syria and Jordan which was put to a number of uses including creating level floors. The Romans made concrete blocks from volcanic ash, lime and seawater.

    In 1793, John Smeaton discovered a way of producing hydraulic lime for cement by firing limestone that contained clay. He used his cement for constructing the Eddystone lighthouse.

    In 1824, Portland cement was invented by burning powdered chalk and clay together which were both readily available. During the 19th Century, this began to be used in industrial buildings.

  7. At the lane, turn right, and immediately right again, signposted to Nanstallon and Grogley. Follow the lane until it ends in a junction.

    In the late 1960s, a first-century Roman fort was excavated in a field in Nanstallon; little now remains apart from some earth banks which are remnants of the ramparts. Based on the coins and pottery found at the site, it is thought to have been constructed around AD 65 late, in Nero's reign (very shortly before the "fiddling whilst Rome burned" incident). Its likely function was as a forward operating base, responsible for lead and silver extraction from the nearby deposits. It was strategically placed near the Fowey-Camel trade and communication routes (aka "The Saint's Way"), for a Roman presence to be felt. A carved stone was found in the stream at Nanstallon depicting a fist as a symbol of Roman power. This may originally have been placed above the entrance gate of the fort.

  8. At the junction, bear right and follow the lane downhill, past the church, until you reach a junction where two other lanes lead off to the right in close succession.

    The reference to the River Camel being known as the "Allen as far as Trecarne" seems a little curious. Tre means "farm" or "place" in Cornish whereas the word for "dwelling" is Bos, so its likely this name for the river stretched to Boscarne beside Nanstallon. It's possible the "Allen" here is related to "Nanstallon" (Nans means "valley" in Cornish). The Cornish word for "foreigner" is alyon, so whether these names stem back to the Roman Fort at Nanstallon or whether the origins or are more similar to Talland Bay (from the words tal and lan) is left for you to contemplate.

  9. Take the second right (with a weak bridge sign) and follow the narrow lane for a mile and a quarter until it ends in a junction.

    Some plant nutrients such as phosphorus tend to be more abundant near the surface of the soil where decaying organic matter collects. Bluebell seedlings start life at the surface so these are OK but as bluebell plants mature and send their roots deeper into the soil to avoid winter frosts, they have a phosphorus problem. They have solved this by partnering with a fungus that extends from their root cells, drawing in minerals from the soil in return for some carbohydrates from the plant.

    Squirrels eyes are positioned on the sides of their head which allows them to spot predators approaching from behind them. When a squirrel spots a predator, its runs away in a zigzag pattern. This confuses many of their predators but unfortunately it doesn't work well for cars.

  10. Turn right onto the lane and follow the lane until you eventually see a sign for Grogley Halt.

    The track either side of the road at the junction, which continues alongside the road, was the Ruthernbridge branch line.

    A branch line was added from Ruthernbridge to join the Bodmin-Wadebridge railway at Grogley Halt and was opened in 1834. This was used to carry agricultural goods and to transport ore from the nearby mines, including copper, lead and especially tin from Mulberry Mine. The track ran alongside the road from the bridge to Grogley, close to the river Ruthern. The railway lasted almost exactly 100 years, closing in 1933; the track was lifted in the following year.

  11. Turn right down the track to Grogley Halt and follow it to an entry point onto the Camel Trail on the left of the platform.

    Snowdrops are a member of the onion family. Although it is often thought of as a native British wild flower, the snowdrop was probably introduced in Tudor times, around the early sixteenth century.

    Trout are members of the Salmon family who all have an extra tiny (adipose) fin on their back towards their tail, that most other fish don't have. No-one is quite sure what the purpose is of this fin but a neural network in the fin indicates that it has some kind of sensory function.

    The trout that supermarkets and trout farms stock is the Rainbow Trout (which has a red flush along its side) and is native to North America not to the UK. Our native trout is the Brown Trout which has well-defined dark red spots along its sides. You can often make out the spots when you see them lying in pools. Rainbow Trout are often stocked in fishing lakes so do sometimes escape into the wild.

    Small trout typically feed on invertebrates whereas larger trout generally feed on other fish but have been known to eat anything of a suitable size unlucky enough to fall into a river. In fact in New Zealand, mouse-shaped lures are sold for trout fishing!

  12. Turn right onto the Camel Trail. Follow the trail past the vineyard to reach a metal gate across the trail, just before a lane.

    A little further up the Camel Trail is the Camel Valley vineyard.

    The Camel Valley Vineyard is situated alongside the Camel Trail between Boscarne Junction and Grogley Halt. The vineyard started in 1989 and Camel Valley wine can now be found across the country in Waitrose, Fortnum and Mason, and is even served at Buckingham Palace to visiting royals. The wine continues to win many National and International awards, including best sparkling rosé, two years running, at the World Sparkling Wine Championship. They offer tours and also wine by the glass or half-glass on the terrace, should you fancy a tasting as you pass by on the Trail.

  13. Go through the gate and cross the lane to the gate opposite. Go through this and follow the trail until you reach a wooden gate across the trail before another lane.

    The bicycle was invented in the 19th Century, initially without any form of propulsion - pushed along with feet and free-wheeled downhill.

    By the 1840s, pedals had been fixed to one of the wheels resulting in propulsion albeit difficult to control - in 1842 a gentleman in Scotland "bestride a velocipede... of ingenious design" was fined five shillings for knocking over a young girl.

    By 1885, bicycles with a chain drive and pneumatic tyres resembling modern bicycles were being manufactured in England. These were known initially as "safety bicycles".

    More than a billion bicycles have since been produced and since the 1970s the production of bicycles has increased substantially above that of cars - there are now more than double the number of bicycles produced than cars each year.

  14. Pass through the gap beside the gate, cross the lane, and rejoin the trail on the opposite side. Follow this past Boscarne Station to Dunmere Halt and follow the fenced path on the right just before the Borough Arms sign to return to the car park.

    Boscarne Station is at one end of the Bodmin and Wenford Railway.

    The Bodmin and Wenford heritage steam railway runs for 6.5 miles between Bodmin Parkway station and Boscarne Junction on the two sections of branch line built to link Bodmin General station to the main line and to the Padstow - Wenfordbridge line. This is Cornwall's only full-size (standard gauge) railway still operated by steam locomotives (the Launceston Steam Railway uses smaller gauge locomotives and tracks originally used in the Welsh quarries).

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