Baker's Pit and Rogers' Tower

The lane to Georgia (leading to Baker's Pit) will be closed for bridge repairs from 21st Sep 2020 for 5 days.

A circular walk from the Bakers Pit nature reserve to an Iron Age hillfort where the remains of prehistoric roundhouses were seen as a convenient source of stone for a folly built in the era when the Poldark novels are set.

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The route begins at Baker's Pit nature reserve. The route then crosses the downs to the Castle-an-Dinas Iron Age hillfort and Rogers' Tower. The return route is across the fields with views to the hills above St Ives and then follows the Red River back to its source at Baker's Pit.

Reviews

Super views from Rogers Tower.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 102
  • Distance: 3 miles/4.9 km
  • Grade: Easy-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

  • Panoramic views from Castle-an-dinas
  • Rogers' Tower
  • Baker's Pit nature reserve

Directions

  1. Go through the gate into the Nature Reserve. Keep following the track to pass the engine house and continue until you reach another metal gate across the track.

    The engine house was used for pumping clay from the pit and the building alongside was a boiler house. Unusually the beam engine was inside of the engine house but in later years the building was greatly modified to house an electric winder. Within the undergrowth on the opposite side of the lane are the set of mica drags and settling pits.

  2. Go through the gate and keep left at the fork to keep following the rough track between the two hedges. Continue for some distance until you eventually reach a pedestrian gate. Go through the gate and continue a short distance to reach a gravel path.

    The settlement of Chysauster is less than a mile to the right (but there is no right of way to it from here).

    Chysauster is one of the best-preserved ancient villages in Britain and is now owned by English Heritage. The settlement of Chysauster dates from the Iron Age but the current remains are from the period when Britain was under Roman rule but Cornwall continued in a Celtic way of life. The village was surrounded by a network of small fields. It is thought that the Castle-an-Dinas hillfort may have been associated with the village and served as an administrative centre a bit like a Town Hall.

    If you'd like to visit it afterwards, the easiest way is to drive via Badger's Cross from Nancledra. Note that English Heritage charge an entrance fee for non-members.

  3. Turn right onto the path and follow it for roughly 200 metres until you reach a waymark beside some steps over the wall on your left.
  4. Once you reach the waymark on the left, climb the stile over the wall and continue ahead to reach a gap in the embankment (rampart) ahead.

    The Castle-an-Dinas hillfort consists of four ramparts, with the outermost accompanied for much of its length by a ditch. The position is not easily defensible but it does have a very good view.

    In the 18th Century it was recorded that the centre still contained the stone foundations of Iron Age roundhouses but the stone has since been robbed and probably now forms part of Roger's Tower.

  5. Go through the gap and continue ahead past the trig point to reach Roger's Tower.

    As you approach the tower, there are nice views ahead over Mount's Bay.

  6. At Roger's Tower, turn right and follow between the ramparts of the hillfort. Continue to reach the path where you entered the castle.

    Rogers' Tower is a folly built in the late 1700s as a destination for family outings by the Rogers family who owned nearby Treassowe Manor. It quickly fell into disuse: by 1817 was already in a state of decay and it was a ruin by the end of the 19th Century. Some repair work was done in 1960 and further restoration was carried out in 2002-3.

    More about Rogers' Tower

  7. Turn left to retrace your steps across the downs to the stone wall.

    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.

  8. Climb the wall and turn right onto the stony path to retrace your steps initially, but then continue following the path until it ends in a gate.

    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.

  9. Go through the gate and turn right and following the path alongside the fence until it eventually ends on a track with a metal gate to the right.

    The hills ahead lie behind the flat area of coastal land that St Ives and Zennor occupy. The hill directly ahead is Trink Hill whilst the largest of the ones further left is Trendrine Hill. Rosewall Hill lies between the two.

  10. Turn left onto the track and follow it a short distance to a wooden gate on the right.

    Many place names in Cornwall containing "Dennis" are corruptions of Dinas which is the Celtic (Cornish and Old Welsh) word for a fort or citadel. The boy's name Dennis has an altogether different origin, from Dionysus - the god of wine. St Dennis (in Cornwall) and the shortened version of it in Australia - Sydney - are both of the latter origin.

  11. Go through the gates and bear right slightly across the field to the gate opposite.
  12. Go through the 2 gates and cross the field to the gate and stile 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.

  13. Cross the stile and follow the right hedge to a gap next to the gate.
  14. Go through the gap and walk along the length of the field to the gate.

    Rabbits also make the most of the grazing land here.

    The first record of slang word "bunny" being applied to rabbits in from the late 17th Century. Prior to this it was in use as a term of endearment, recorded in a 1606 love letter as "my honey, my bunny...". The origin of this pet name is thought to be a dialect word "bun" which was a general term for small furry creatures which did include rabbits but also applied to squirrels. The use of the word "rabbit" for chattering is from the Cockney rhyming slang for "talk" (rabbit and pork).

  15. Go through the pedestrian gate on the left of the gate and follow the track downhill to where it ends in a T-junction with another track.
  16. Take the small path ahead on the opposite side of the track and follow this until it emerges onto a lane.

    During the spring, if you encounter a patch of plants with white bell-shaped flowers, smelling strongly of onions, and with long, narrow leaves then they are likely to be three-cornered leeks.

    The plants get their name due to their triangular flower stems. As the name also suggests, they are members of the onion family and have a small bulb. In fact, in New Zealand they are known as "onion weed".

  17. Turn left onto the lane and follow this to a junction.

    During winter, from November to March, winter heliotrope is visible along the edges of roads and paths as carpets of rounded heart-shaped leaves.

    In December and January, the plants produce spikes with pale pink scented flowers. The scent resembles marzipan i.e. almond and vanilla.

  18. Turn left and follow the road until you reach a track on the left with a sign for The Moors.

    The river is one of several in Cornwall known as the Red River and meets the sea at Marazion.

    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.

  19. Bear left onto the track and follow this until you reach a crossing of tracks.

    There are two types of ivy leaf. Those on creeping stems are the classic ivy leaf shape with 3-5 triangular lobes - they grow towards shade to find a tree to climb up. However, more mature ivy plants grow aerial shoots with a completely different (teardrop) leaf shape. These are the shoots that bear the flowers and fruits and are typically located in a sunny spot such as on an upright ivy bush or top of a rock face. The reason for the different shapes is that the larger, multi-lobed leaves are able to catch more light in shady areas whereas the smaller, stouter leaves are more resistant to drying out.

  20. Go through the wooden gate (the rope loop slides over the gatepost) and follow along the left hedge to a stone stile in the corner marked with a post with a white top.

    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.
  21. Cross the stile and follow the path between the hedge and fence to a stile.

    Electric fences are typically powered from a low voltage source such as a car battery which charges a capacitor to release a periodic pulse of high voltage electricity. This is often audible as a quiet "crack" which is a good indicator that a fence is powered. As with the high-voltage shock caused by static electricity, the current is not high enough to cause serious injury but touching an electric fence is nevertheless unpleasant. If you are answering the call of nature in the vicinity of an electric fence, be mindful of the conductivity of electrolyte solutions!

  22. Cross the stile then head towards the bush in the middle of the field, passing to the left of the reeds. After the reeds, bear right to a gap in the hedge. Once through the gap, turn left to keep the hedge on your left and reach a stone stile in the corner of the field.

    Beard-like lichens (known as Old Man's Beard) are very sensitive to sulphur dioxide in the air. Where the air quality is poor, at best they only manage to grow a few millimetres and may not survive at all. Long beards are therefore an indicator of clean air.

  23. Cross the stile and footbridge and follow the path along the stream until it emerges onto the gravel driveway for Tredorwin.

    The stream is a tributary of the Red River, fed by the springs draining from the marshes. The main stream has its source in the Baker's Pit nature reserve. The walk passes through the reserve later on.

    Snowdrops are one of the earliest plants to flower. They use energy stored in their bulbs to generate leaves and flowers during winter, whilst other plants without an energy reserve cannot compete. The downside to flowering so early is that pollinating insects are more scarce, so rather than relying exclusively on seeds, they also spread through bulb division.

  24. Turn left onto the driveway and follow it a short distance towards the chimney to where a narrow path departs to the right beside a wooden post, just before the track bends.

    The chimney is part of the remains of the Baker's Pit China Clay works.

    The first record of the workings is from 1758 and the area was worked until 1942. The site was given by Imerys to the Cornwall Wildlife Trust in 2000. The habitats include heathland and wet willow woodland (with some consequently boggy paths in winter!). The wildlife is reported to include some less common birds of prey such as merlins and hen harriers. The flooded quarry pool has a population of freshwater fish such as small roach and rudd.

    Once clay was extracted from a pit, kaolin needed to be separated from the other components of granite in the clay slurry. In earlier times, the slurry was flowed through three stepped tanks: in the first tank sand was deposited, in the second a mixture of fine sand and mica, in the third tank mica alone was deposited.

    The introduction of mica drags made the process of separating the clay from the unwanted sand and mica far more efficient. Rectangular stone tanks with a very shallow gradient were divided into a series of long narrow channels. The slow flow rate down the shallow gradient caused the heavier sand and mica to be deposited in the bottom of the channels.

  25. Turn right onto the small path and follow this until it emerges onto the stony track to Baker's Pit.

    The ruins surrounding the chimney are the remains of a pan kiln for drying china clay.

    Up until about 1850 china clay was dried in open-sided sheds known as air drys. This was a slow process: in winter, it could take as long as eight months.

    From 1845, pan kilns were developed and became standard in the 1860s and 70s. Flues led beneath a floor of porous tiles on which the cream-like clay slurry was dried. The moisture was drawn down into the hot fumes and vented from a chimney.

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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