27 November 2009

Bodmin Moor

Bodmin Moor is an eighty square mile section of the United Kingdom, situated in Cornwall, which is the very toe of the pointy bit, right at the opposite end to Scotland.

Bodmin is notable for a number of reasons, some serious, some rather whimsical. It is granite moorland, and interesting rock structures litter the area. Some are natural - a number of famous tors are to be found here, and many of them are named according to their appearance. The 20 foot tall Cheesewring, for example, looks like an old device used to force out excess liquid during the cheesemaking process. Rough Tor, on the other hand, is much higher and allows for excellent views across the moor.

Brown Willy (please don't snigger) is the highest point of Bodmin Moor, and lucky visitors may even catch sight of a buzzard, or other birds of prey. Less common creatures include the legendary Beast Of Bodmin Moor, which may or may not exist, and is only one of a number of rumoured big cats lurking about the English countryside.

Human stone constructions include a large range of stone barrows and various stone circles, a remnant of the bronze age population. And if you find your way to the Jamaica Inn at Bolventor, just off the A30, you're not too far from Dozmary Pool. A heady and mysterious place, rumoured to contain Excalibur, and therefore the home of the lady of the lake. It's traditionally held to be bottomless, and to have tunnel connecting it to the sea. That said, it dried up in 1869, so that sorted that one out. They did find a number of exciting neolithic arrowheads in the dried pool bed, but no magical swords.

Bodmin, apparently, means the house of the monks, and until Henry VIII got a little vengeful, Bodmin itself was an ecclesiastical town. Saint Petroc, the original monastery founder, is rumoured to be buried in an ivory casket in the crypt of his namesake church. There are eleven wells in Bodmin, too, which are reputed to have healing powers.

Less ethereally, there's just some great landscapes to see. Moors are fascinating places; there are vast open plains, and strange, wrinkled high lands. Do yourself a favour and invest in a tourist guide of some kind before simply marching off into the wilds; there's nothing worse than being rescued by emergency workers after you don't return to the bed and breakfast, apart from possibly not being rescued at all. You may scoff, but as recently as January 19th 2008 a properly-dressed walking couple who knew exactly what they were doing were caught in fog and had to be rescued by a police dog-handler.

Bodmin Moor benefits from its own website here, which gives plenty of guidance on places to visit, things to do, food to enjoy and how not to get completely lost. There are pretty pictures, too.

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