Circular walk from Poley's Bridge to Blisland

Poley's Bridge to Blisland

A circular walk from Poley's Bridge along the Camel Trail past the old china clay driers to Wenfordbridge and crossing the De Lank valley and Pendrift Downs to Blisland, returning along the Camel valley.

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The route starts at Poley's Bridge, where the Wenford Driers once loaded china clay onto the railway to Padstow, and follows the Camel Trail to Wenfordbridge. From here the route heads up De Lank valley, passing the granite quarry, and crosses the De Lank river to Pendrift Downs. Here, the route passes Jubilee Rock, carved with insignia then follows lanes into Blisland. The route leaves the village via the pub, descends to Lavethan Mill and then returns on the Camel Trail.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 109
  • Distance: 5.2 miles/8.4 km
  • Steepness grade: Moderate
  • Recommended footwear: walking boots

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 109 OS Explorer 109 (laminated version)

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


  • Moss covered boulders and ancient twisted oaks on Pendrift Downs
  • Pretty Saxon village of Blisland
  • Impressively ornate 15th century church
  • Local food and real ales at Blisland Inn - winner of the CAMRA National Pub of the Year
  • Panoramic views from Jubilee Rock - a huge granite boulder carved with insignia
  • Pleasant woodland and riverside scenery along the Camel Trail
  • Eeerie ruins of the Wenford Dryers

Pubs on or near the route

  • The Blisland Inn

Adjoining walks


  1. Where the car park meets the trail, follow the trail in the direction of Wenford to where it meets the road.

    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. Cross the road and follow the trail to the café and car park at Wenfordbridge.

    The Wenford Dries are located at Poley's Bridge near St Breward. China clay arrived by pipeline as a slurry. This was run through a series of "drags" to first remove suspended sand particles and then lighter mica flakes, leaving just the finest kaolin particles suspended in the liquid. The purified slurry was then pumped into settling tanks to remove most of the water and then dried on heated floors. The resulting powder was loaded into containers and transported down the railway to Padstow, which is now the Camel Trail. The dryers operated until 2002, apart from a brief closure during the Second World War.

  3. Exit the car park and turn right onto the single track lane, passing houses on your right until you reach a stone stile on the left.

    Wenfordbridge station was located where the Camel Trail car park is now situated. Wenfordbridge was the furthest outpost of the London and Southwestern Railway from London Waterloo. The station opened in 1834, as part of the Bodmin and Wadebridge Railway, and changed very little until it closed in 1971. There were three sidings for loading and unloading goods, which now form the car park. This was predominantly coal, inbound, and stone (from local quarries), outbound. A fourth siding continued onwards to the De Lank quarries, to bring in granite for loading onto the train, using a gantry crane.

  4. Cross the stile and follow the left-hand hedge up the field to a waymarked stile.

    Hazelnuts can be found beneath the trees in September and October and are a favourite with squirrels so you'll need to forage those that haven't already been nibbled. Once harvested, the nuts need to dried before shelling and eating. Wash and dry the nuts first to reduce the chance of them going mouldy. Then lay them out on something where the air can circulate and dry them for 2-4 weeks. An airing cupboard is a good place. You can tell that they are ready when the nuts rattle in their shells. Once shelled, the nuts can be stored in a fridge or even frozen for a couple of years.

    The rods cut from coppiced hazel shoots were woven into fences, used as thatching poles and as the foundation for wattle-and-daub walls. Baskets and traditional lobster pots were made from the thinner shoots. Hazel rods were also used to make clothes pegs and witches wands.

  5. Cross the stile and head across the field to a metal field gate to the left of the wooden gate in front of the house.

    Every part of the dandelion plant is edible and is high in Vitamin A and higher still in Vitamin K. The leaves can be eaten in salads, though their bitterness is not to everyone's taste. However, the bitterness can be reduced by blanching: drop the leaves into boiling salted water and remove after a minute and quench in ice-cold water to prevent the leaves from cooking.

    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.


    • 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).


    • 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.
  6. Go through the pedestrian gate on the right of the field gate and follow the track along the right hedge to another pedestrian gate beside a gate across the track. Go through this and follow the track to a gate onto a lane.

    In Mediaeval times, bringing hawthorn blossom into the house was thought to bring death and it was described as smelling like the Great Plague. The explanation for this is thought to be that the hawthorn blossom contains trimethylamine which is one of the first chemicals formed when animal tissue decays. Young leaves of the plant can be used in salads as the chemical is not present in the leaves so these taste nutty rather than of death.

  7. Go through the gate and turn left onto the lane. Follow the lane a short distance until you reach a turning to the right signposted De Lank British Granite.

    The two large granite structures that you pass between used to support the railway that ran from the De Lank quarry to Wenfordbridge.

  8. Turn right onto the track to De Lank quarry and follow it a short distance to a junction just before Trelank Barn.

    The De Lank quarries are on Bodmin Moor between Blisland and St Breward. The quarries lie along the bed of the De Lank river, which runs through a culvert beneath the quarry workings. Buildings and monuments that have incorporated silver-grey granite include Tower Bridge, The Royal Opera House and monuments to Churchill and Marx. At the Eden Project, "The Seed" in "The Core" was quarried from here.

  9. Keep right to continue on the track towards the quarry. Follow this for some distance, passing over cattle grids, until you reach a driveway to Eddystone Court on the right with a waymarked footpath departing beside this.

    Whilst it's fairly obvious why cows are reluctant to cross a cattle grid, you might be surprised to learn that cows will also not cross a "virtual" cattle grid composed of dark and light lines painted on a completely solid surface. This even works with wild cattle who have never encountered a "real" cattle grid before and so is unlikely to be learned behaviour. It is thought that the reason is due to the limitations of cows' vision, specifically their limited depth perception means that they cannot discriminate between bars over a pit and a series of light and dark lines.

  10. Turn right onto the driveway to the house and bear right onto the narrow path leading alongside the fence. Follow the path downhill until it emerges onto a track.

    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.

  11. Turn left onto the track and walk a short distance to the quarry workings gate. At the gate, turn right and follow the path downhill into the De Lank valley until you reach a footbridge over the river.

    The De Lank River springs from Rough Tor Marsh, between the two highest peaks on Bodmin Moor and joins the River Camel near Blisland. It is an important wildlife habitat, noted for diverse and abundant flora and fauna and its surrounding banks, woodlands and marshes have been designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) and a Special Area of Conservation (SAC). Together with the River Camel, the De Lank is an important habitat for the otter which is present along the whole length of the river.

    The name is reported as being from a Cornish name which is recorded as Dinlonk. The Cornish word lonk means gully. The name of the riverside settlement Lank is almost certainly related.

  12. Cross the bridge and follow the path across the floodplain around a gentle arc to the left until you are facing the side of the valley. Once you can see the path climbing out of the valley, head to the bottom of this.

    The De Lank river was known locally as White River because when the old china clay pipeline from Stannon to Wenford leaked, the river used to run white. The St Austell river (and shopping centre) is also named White River for similar reasons.

  13. Follow the path uphill to a stile.

    China clay in Cornwall and Devon resulted from a sequence of events that began over 300 million years ago; molten rock cooled into granite: a mixture of quartz, feldspar and mica. As it cooled, the feldspar reacted with other minerals to form china clay.

    The clay from Cornwall was found to be a much finer quality than elsewhere in Europe and also turned out to be the largest deposit in the world. By the mid-19th Century, 7,000 workers were employed in the St Austell area alone and by 1910, Cornwall was producing 50% of the world's China Clay.

    At the time of writing, the UK is still the third largest producer of China Clay in the world: Cornwall produces approximately 1 million tonnes of kaolin each year. Due to increasing mechanisation and large amounts of production being moved to Brazil, the industry now only employs around 1000 people.

    The word kaolin is thought to be a corruption of the Chinese for "high ridge" where it was presumably found.

  14. Cross the stile and follow the left hedge up the field to a gateway.

    The Red Fox has been present in Britain since the last Ice Age and is our most widespread and numerous predator. Foxes are omnivores: as well as hunting small mammals and birds, they will eat fruit and anything else they can scavenge, in fact a major component of their diet is earthworms. This flexibility has allowed them to adapt to farmed and urban environments but also varied natural environments including the coast. In the wild, a lucky fox can live to an age of about 8 but the lifespan of most foxes is typically only 1.5 - 2 years. One reason for this is that around 100,000 foxes are killed on roads every year.

  15. Go through the gateway and follow the left hedge to the track leaving the field. Follow the track a short distance until it ends in a gate.
  16. Go through the gate and follow the track past the houses to a junction.

    Pendrift is a small hamlet on the edge of Blisland. The name Pendrift (first recorded as Pendref) contains the place-name elements pen (meaning top) and dre (aka. "tre", meaning place/farmstead/village); the phrase pen an tre thus means "top of the village".

  17. Turn left at the junction and follow the track until you reach a gate.

    There are 2 sparrow species in the UK but only the house sparrow is common in Cornwall. Since the 1970s the UK house sparrow population has declined to less than half with an even greater loss in urban areas. Consequently the house sparrow is now red-listed as a species of high conservation concern. The exact causes for the decline are not known although a number of likely factors have been identified. In the countryside a reduction in aphid populations due to changes in farming practices is thought to be significant whereas in urban areas a loss of suitable nesting sites and a more intense level of predation by cats may be significant. Since 2008 the population seems to have stabilised but no-one is quite sure why.

  18. Go through the gate and follow the track left and then right. As the track straightens out, you pass Jubilee Rock on your left which you may want to explore before continuing. Continue along the track until you reach the corner of the hedge.

    Located near Pendrift on the northern edge of Blisland, Jubilee Rock is a large natural granite boulder which originally supported another large balancing rock (known locally as a "logan stone"). It is now a Grade II listed monument as it is covered with carvings of Britannia, royalty, and Coats of Arms. It was originally carved in 1809-10 for George III's Golden Jubilee by Lieutenant John Rogers. It was updated with new carvings in 1859 and 1887 for Queen Victoria's Golden Jubilee and the carvings were restored for the 2012 Diamond Jubilee of Elizabeth II. A brass plate now in Bodmin Town Museum was originally fixed to the rock containing lines of verse composed by John Rogers. In 2010, the plate was temporarily reattached to the rock for a 200 year celebration which involved attempts at singing the verses John Rogers had composed.

    More about Jubilee Rock

  19. At the corner of the hedge, turn right and walk parallel to the right-hand hedge, aiming for the telegraph pole in the far hedge, to reach a gap leading onto a road.

    Royal Jubilees began with George III celebrating 50 years on the throne in 1809 with a Golden Jubilee, followed by Queen Victoria in 1887. Victoria was the first monarch to celebrate a Diamond Jubilee in 1897. Elizabeth II celebrated a 25 year Silver Jubilee in 1977, a Golden Jubilee in 2002 and Diamond Jubilee in 2012.

  20. Go through the gap and turn right onto the road. Go through the gate beside the cattle grid and then follow the road past some houses to a crossroads.

    Blisland is a small village which lies on the western flank of the Bodmin Moor, perched above the valley of the River Camel. Unlike most other Cornish villages, the houses of Blisland are grouped around a village green indicating Saxon origins. On the corner of the green is Blisland Manor which is much more recent, dating from the 16th Century. There are 7 wayside crosses in Blisland (out of 360 in Cornwall) including one near the village post office.

  21. Bear left at the crossroads and follow the road until you reach Blisland village green.

    The church is on the opposite side of the green if you'd like to have a look around before continuing the walk.

    The parish church of Blisland is located at the south edge of the village green, which lies on the west flank of Bodmin Moor. Blisland church is impressively ornate: thought to be on the site of a Saxon church, it was a slate and granite Norman building, but was rebuilt in the Perpendicular Gothic style in the 15th century (and restored in the 19th). It is unique in being dedicated to St Protus (known locally as St Pratt) and St Hyacinth who were brothers martyred in the late 3rd century AD. No one knows why this church was dedicated to them in the 15th century. If you have the chance to visit on 22nd September, there is a feast day procession to St Pratt's Cross and Holy Well.

  22. Turn right at the junction, along the edge of the village green. Continue past the Blisland Inn to a junction.

    The Blisland Inn is recorded on OS maps from the 1880s and there are records of residents from 1856. Some time around the start of the 20th Century, the name was changed to the Royal Oak Inn but then reverted to its original name. In more recent years, the pub has gained a reputation for its real ales, winning the CAMRA National Pub of the Year in 2001. The landlord had his own wooden barrels made by a retired cooper, which are sent to the local brewery to fill.

  23. At the junction by the pub, continue onto the road ahead past the phone box. Keep left to follow the lane signposted "Merrymeeting". Continue on this to pass a row of cottages and reach some stone steps on the left marked with a Public Footpath sign as the road starts to dip downhill.

    The red telephone box was the result of a competition in 1924 to design a more aesthetically-pleasing telephone kiosk that would be acceptable to the London Metropolitan Boroughs who weren't impressed by the Post Office's first 1921 model made from concrete. Three subsequent versions were used mostly in London. The final design was created in 1935 to commemorate the jubilee of George V and was deployed widely across the country.

    The bright red telephone box was initially not well-received and the Post Office was forced to use an alternative colour scheme (grey with red glazing bars) for areas of natural beauty. Ironically, many of the telephone boxes preserved in these areas have since been painted - the now iconic - red.

  24. Climb the steps on the left and follow along the right hedge and pass a metal gate to reach a wooden pedestrian gate in the bottom corner of the field.

    If there are sheep in the field and you have a dog, make sure it's securely on its lead (sheep are prone to panic and injuring themselves even if a dog is just being inquisitive). If the sheep start bleating, this means they are scared and they are liable to panic.

    If there are pregnant sheep in the field, be particularly sensitive as a scare can cause a miscarriage. If there are sheep in the field with lambs, avoid approaching them closely, making loud noises or walking between a lamb and its mother, as you may provoke the mother to defend her young.

    Sheep may look cute but if provoked they can cause serious injury (hence the verb "to ram"). Generally, the best plan is to walk quietly along the hedges and they will move away or ignore you.

  25. Go through the gate and the one after it and then turn right to walk along the top hedge past the first cattle rubbing stone. Bear left, downhill past the second cattle rubbing stone, to reach a pedestrian gate.

    In pre-industrial times, cattle were allowed to roam over quite large areas and could therefore find a suitable tree to relieve an itch. In the Victorian period, farming became more intensive and cattle were moved into enclosed fields. It was quickly discovered that an itchy cow could wreak havoc with walls and fences so dedicated rubbing stones were positioned in the centre of some fields to minimise cow damage. In some cases, new stones were quarried specifically for the purpose and others, existing prehistoric standing stones or even Celtic crosses were unceremoniously re-used.

  26. Go through the gate and follow the path along the fence, down the steps and cross the driveway. Continue along the fence to a stone stile and cross this. Make your way down to the road, cross at the junction to the small road opposite and walk a few paces to where the Camel Trail crosses the lane.

    Lavethan Mill dates from the 17th Century and was still in use in 1959 with two waterwheels. One of the wheels and working machinery still remained in the 1970s but both were removed to convert it to residential property.

    The word "mill" is from the Old English word mylen which is similar to the Cornish melyn appearing in place names like Portmellon. By mediaeval times the "n" had been lost so the Middle English word was mille although the "n" survives in the surname Milner (but nothing to do with "milliner" the gist of which was "fancy chap from Milan selling fashionable items").

    The origin of "mill" can be traced back further to a Latin word mola (which also gave rise to molars in dentistry) and further still to a word in the Proto-Indo-European language spoken during in Neolithic times which meant to crush or grind.

  27. Turn right onto the Camel Trail (signposted "Pooleys Bridge") and follow this for half a mile to the Poley's Bridge car park to complete the circular walk.

    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.

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