Egloshayle to Dinham Bridge

A circular walk in the Allen Valley from Egloshayle though the broadleaf woodland alongside the River Allen past the mills of Hingham and Lemail, returning via the Celtic Three Holed Cross and the remains of Castle Killibury which from mediaeval Welsh texts is thought might be one of King Arthur's several castles.

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The walk follows the River Allen through the woods from Sladesbridge to Hingham Mill where the undershot waterwheel is still present. The route continues up the leet to meet the river at the wiers where Lemail Mill once stood. The walk continues to Dinham Bridge through the woods along the Allen Valley, carpeted with bluebells and and garlic in spring. The route then climbs out of the valley, passing the ramparts remaining from the Celtic fortress known as Castle Killibury. Small lanes and farm tracks complete the circular route, via the three-holed cross, to Egloshayle.

Reviews

It is a super walk, very scenic indeed.
Autumn colours... leafy loveliness, swollen rivers and fallen trees... epic stank!

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 106,109
  • Distance: 6.1 miles/9.7 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots; wellies after prolonged wet weather

OS maps for this walk

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

Highlights

  • Riverside walk along the Allen Valley
  • Bluebells and autumn colours in the broadleaf woodland
  • Views over the Camel Estuary on the return route

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Earl of St Vincent

Directions

  1. At the church, cross the road to the pavement opposite and follow this in the direction signposted to Bodmin, to reach a junction.

    Egloshayle is now an area within the Wadebridge conurbation but was once a distinct settlement. The name Egloshayle is from the Cornish words eglos (meaning church) and heyl (meaning estuary) and is pronounced to reflect this ("eglos-hale" not "eglo-shale"). It was originally a Bronze Age settlement and later a river port, rivalling Padstow. The river trade is reported to include tin, clay, wool, and vegetable crops. The wool component of the trade may well be the origin of the name "Bridge on Wool" given to the bridge at Wadebridge.

  2. At the junction, keep right on the path and follow the path past the Clapper Yard Gallery and the garden centre car park (on the opposite side of the road) to reach a gate on the right with various Danger signs.
  3. Continue alongside the road past the garden centre entrance to the second of two pedestrian crossings.

    The garden centre car park is located where the North Cornwall line emerged from the Allen Valley before crossing the line of the road and joining the railway from Bodmin (now the Camel Trail).

    The North Cornwall Railway was a venture backed by the London and South Western Railway to compete with the Great Western Railway for services to Cornwall. The North Cornwall line ran from Halwill in Devon to Padstow via Launceston, Camelford and Wadebridge and was built for economy rather than speed, including climbs and curves to avoid costly construction work. The line was opened in sections at the end of the 19th century, reaching Padstow in 1899. There was an aspiration to connect Wadebridge to Truro, but this was never realised. Due to holidaymakers increasingly travelling by car in the 1960s, demand for passenger services dwindled and the line was closed as part of the cuts in 1966.

  4. Cross the road to reach a small lane running in front of the Garden Centre. Turn right onto this and follow it to a gate and stile.

    The horse chestnut tree was introduced to Britain during Tudor times. Mature horse chestnut trees grow up to 40 metres tall and can live for up to 300 years. The association of conker trees with horses may be due to the horseshoe (complete with nail holes) shape of the leaf scars on the twigs.

  5. Cross the stile and turn left onto the path. Keep right along the path to follow it into the woods to reach a gate.

    The woodland is a mixture of broadleaf species including oak, sycamore and beech.

    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.

  6. Pass the gate and continue on the path through the woods to reach a gate and stile.

    Badgers have created setts beneath some of the tree roots in the banks on the sides of the valley.

    Badgers are most closely related to otters and weasels, but are omnivores and often catch their food by burrowing after it. Up until the 1950s, somewhat prior to the Gastro-pub revolution, many Westcountry pubs had Badger Ham on the bar!

    Due to their relatively large body size, badgers are susceptible to the same pathogens as domestic livestock, and so badgers and cattle can catch tuberculosis from each other. In recent years, there has been controversy over badger culling as an attempted means to control the spread of bovine TB. The conclusions of the scientific trials of 2007 were that badger culling was not effective. One reason is that culling creates vacant territories and causes other badgers to roam more widely, continuing a spread. In 2010, a TB vaccine was produced which is hoped will prove more effective than culling, as a band of vaccinated badgers will act like a firewall, blocking a spread.

  7. Cross the stile and continue along the path to reach another gate and stile beside the river.

    The Rivel Allen is a major tributary of the River Camel, joining it just above the estuary near Wadebridge. It was known as the Dowr Alen in Cornish, which is documented as meaning "shining river". There is also a River Allen in Truro, although that one is Dowr Lain in Cornish, so as long as you speak Cornish, you won't get them confused!.

  8. Cross the stile and follow the path along the edge of the meadow and back into the woods to reach a pedestrian gate, just after the path crosses over an old adit.

    An adit is a roughly horizontal tunnel going into a mine. In Cornwall these were important for drainage as many of the ore-bearing veins are close to vertical, through which water can easily seep. Drainage adits were sloped slightly upwards to meet the main shaft, so water trickling into the main shaft from above could be diverted out of the adit. Below the adit, engines powered by waterwheels or steam were needed to pump the water up to the level of the adit where it could then drain away.

  9. Go through the gate and follow the path alongside the meadow to another gate. Go through this and continue to the metal farm gate ahead.

    The bright orange colour of the stream bed leading from the adit is due to iron compounds which also occur in the lodes which were mined.

    When the acidic solution containing dissolved metals from mines (known as Acidic Mine Drainage) meets other water, it is diluted and the reduced acidity causes dissolved iron to precipitate out as orange or yellow hydroxides, colouring the water and sticking to anything in the watercourse. In the case of copper mines, copper stays dissolved in the water and at higher levels this can be toxic to wildlife, particularly fish.

    Where there is a large amount of water coming from a mine which is not rendered harmless by natural dilution, reed beds have been found to be very effective in treating the acidic water. Plants and bacteria in the reed bed convert the dissolved metals into insoluble compounds that are trapped within the reed bed. There are even suggestions that the metals may be commercially recoverable after they have been concentrated in the reed bed over a period of time.

  10. Go through the metal gate and the sequence of two ahead of it (make sure each closes properly so animals don't get onto the road as it's a working farm) to reach a lane.

    The building on the right is Hingham Mill. As you reach the lane, the waterwheel is on your right, facing the lane.

    Hingham Mill was mentioned in a document from 1420 as a fulling mill and recorded in another document from 1540. The current building dates from the 18th Century and still retains the working machinery for grinding corn. It is unusual for a mill in Cornwall in that the waterwheel is not fed from above. This is probably because a large volume of water was available from the River Allen so there was plenty of flow to drive an undershot wheel.

  11. Turn left onto the lane and follow it uphill to a junction.

    Overshot wheels can achieve higher efficiencies than undershot wheels and can operate using a smaller volume of water which explains why they were generally preferred, particularly in steep-sided Cornish valleys.

    A 2004 Civil Engineering publication concluded that high energy conversion efficiencies (of around 85-90%) were possible from overshot waterwheels and that if these can be manufactured cheaply, they could provide an environmentally sound means of small-scale electricity production.

  12. At the junction, turn right and follow the lane to a bend where a track departs to the right.
  13. Turn right onto the track and go through the gate. Follow the track to where a small path departs to the left under some overhanging ivy. Keep right to continue on the main track and follow it down to the river.

    The area around the bridleway is a delicate SSSI due to rare flora and fauna including endangered orchids and protected newts therefore take nothing apart from pictures and leave nothing apart from footprints.

    Lemail Mill is marked as "disused" on the Ordnance Survey map but in fact is disused to the point of not existing any more. However, in the river, there are weirs, leats and clapper bridges that were associated with the mill. Also the river channel running under the wooden footbridge, that is fed from above the weir, is a man-made watercourse that runs to Hingham Mill to drive the waterwheel there.

  14. When you reach the river, keep left to follow the main path upriver along the bottom of the valley for about half a mile until you reach a fork.

    Note that the bridges and weirs are all on private land with no public right of way and there are ground-nesting birds in the area so keep dogs under tight control. The deep pools created by the weirs make it a good spot for trout which can grow up to a foot long in the River Allen.

    Trout are members of 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 native trout in the UK is not the trout that supermarkets and trout farms stock (the Rainbow Trout, which has red flush along its side and is native to North America), but 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!

  15. Keep right at the fork and follow the path until it ends in a gate onto a track.

    Grey squirrels were introduced to the UK from the USA in the late 19th Century and within decades they had replaced the native red squirrel in most parts of the country.

  16. Go through the gate and turn left onto the track. Follow it uphill and past the houses until it ends on a lane.

    Snowdrops flower here in the early spring.

    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.

    The formation of most of the world's coal deposits from wood occurred during a single geological period suitably-named the Carboniferous. It was postulated that this might be because white rot hadn't evolved by then so dead wood just accumulated. However, it's now thought more likely to be due to the formation of particularly deep swamps from the crust-buckling collisions of tectonic plates in this period which allowed wood both to accumulate in a low-oxygen environment and then be compressed into coal.

  17. Turn left onto the lane and follow it up the hill. Continue around a sharp bend to reach a fork in the lane.

    At the bottom of the hill, the lane crosses the River via Dinham's bridge, which was built in early Victorian times to provide a link between the parishes of St Mabyn and St Kew, and lies exactly on the parish boundary. The walk route is within the St Kew parish.

  18. At the fork, bear left and follow the lane until you reach a gate across the lane beside the farm.
  19. Go through the gate and follow the lane to another gateway where the field tapers to meet the gatepost.
  20. Go through the gateway and follow the lane until it ends on the A39.

    As you go through the gate, the pair of banks on the right-hand side of the road are the remains of Castle Killibury.

    Mediaeval Welsh manuscripts mention King Arthur as "chief prince in Celliwig in Cerniw". Castle Killibury, also known as Kelly Rounds, is one likely candidate for "Celliwig" ("Cerniw" being Cornwall). There is evidence that site was occupied during the Bronze and Iron ages and also during Arthur's time. Originally it had a pair of circular ramparts with a square annex on one side. Half of it was flattened to build a farm so now a pair of semi-circular banks are all that remain on the opposite side of the road from the farm.

  21. Carefully cross the A39 to the three holed cross in the grassy area opposite. Follow the path on the far side of the cross to emerge on a small lane. Turn right onto the lane and follow it a short distance to a junction.

    The Three Hole Cross, next to the A39 between St Kew Highway and Wadebridge, dates from the mediaeval period. It was intended as a 4-holed cross but one of the holes was never completed. The cross was reported as damaged and repaired during Victorian times, and was moved slightly to its present location in the early 20th Century when the road was improved.

  22. Turn left at the junction and follow the small lane to a large farm, where there is a track going through a metal gate from the lane into a field on the left, opposite a junction with a track on the right.

    Christianity in Roman Britain began in the 4th or 5th century AD. However there were no known cities west of Exeter, so the spread into Cornwall is likely to have been very limited. The majority of Cornwall is likely to have remained Pagan until "The Age of Saints" - the late 5th or early 6th century - when the Irish missionaries including St Piran and St Petroc settled in Cornwall.

  23. Go through the gate on the left (pull the handle upwards) and follow the track along the right hedge to some gates on the far side of the field.

    The number of cows in Cornwall has been estimated at around 75,000 (a lot of moo is needed for the cheese and clotted cream produced in Cornwall) 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.
  24. Go through the wooden gate ahead and follow the grassy track. When it enters the trees, keep right to stay on the track and continue to reach a gate across it.

    Over the hedge to the right is an area of bushes in the middle of the field. This is the remains of the Tregorden Mine where lead and silver were extracted.

    The lead ore found in Cornwall is a form of lead sulphide known as galena which often contains an appreciable amount of silver. This was first smelted to produce "argentiferous lead" and then the silver was separated by a process known as "cupellation". The molten alloy of the 2 metals was placed in an oxygen rich furnace which caused the lead, but not the silver, to oxidise. The lead oxide was then absorbed into a calcium-rich material such as the ash from bones or seashells, leaving the liquid metal silver on the surface of the "cake". The lead oxide could later be converted back into lead by smelting it with charcoal.

  25. Go through the gate and follow the track until it ends on a lane.

    The metallic minerals associated with outcrops of granite tend to occur in bands which radiate out from the granite outcrop. A band of tin deposits usually occurs closest to the granite, then beyond this a band containing copper ore. A band of zinc and lead deposits is commonly found further away from the granite, with just iron at the furthest extreme. The reason for the banding is that the deposition of each mineral occurs within a specific temperature range. Granite starts as a molten blob of magma which cools very slowly and provides a source of heat. The temperature of water in the cracks in the neighbouring rock therefore decreases with increasing distance from the hot granite.

  26. Continue ahead to join the lane and follow it until it ends on another lane opposite a Wadebridge A39 sign.
  27. Cross the lane to the footpath sign just to the right of the Wadebridge sign, then cross the stone stile and another wooden one into a field. Follow the fence on the right to reach a stile in the fence at the other side of the field.

    The settlement is known as Ball after the Cornish word bal.

    Many Cornish mines have names starting with Wheal, and it is a common misconception that Wheal meant "mine". In fact, Wheal simply meant "workplace". The word for "mine" was bal and the women who worked on the surface were known as Bal Maids.

  28. Cross the stile and descend the steps to the road. Carefully cross to the steps opposite and follow the path from the top to reach a stile.

    The route between Launceston and Truro on the A30, A395 (through Davidstow), A39 (through Camelford and Wadebridge) and A30 again (through St Columb and Mitchell) is the remains of a mediaeval cart track known as the Royal Cornish Way. It entered Cornwall via Polston Bridge which is thought to have been built soon after the Norman conquerors had built a castle at Launceston.

    Despite its grand title, the Royal Cornish Way was a notoriously bad road not only for its still-famous potholes but in some places no road surface at all (just mud). Provided the sea was calm, it was generally thought preferable transport cargo by boat.

  29. When you reach the stile, cross this and bear right across the track to the shed on the corner of the allotments. Join the path running between the left hedge and the allotments. Follow this until it ends in a stile.
  30. Cross the stile and follow the path to the road. Carefully cross the road to the path opposite and follow this to reach a lane.
  31. Bear left onto the lane and follow it until you reach a mini roundabout.
  32. Keep left at the roundabout and follow the lane to a junction beside an Earl of St Vincent sign.

    The Earl Of St Vincent Inn is about 50 metres along the lane to the left. It dates from the 18th Century and is grade II listed. The interior is described by English Heritage as "unaltered and unspoiled with late 18th Century and 19th Century timber partitions".

  33. At the junction, continue ahead down the small lane to reach the church and complete the circular route.

    Egloshayle is the parish north of the River Camel in Wadebridge with the large church. The parish church is dedicated to St Petroc and is built almost entirely in the Perpendicular Gothic style (typical of the 13th and 14th centuries). The font is older, dating back to Norman times. The stone pulpit is a little later, dating from the 15th century.

    The bell-ringers of the village are celebrated in the song "The Ringers of Egloshayle". The ringers named in the song are all buried in the churchyard; their names may be seen on the headstones.

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