Tuesday, 7 October 2014

Rough Tor, Brown Willy and the Fernacre, Louden Hill, and Stannon stone circles, Bodmin Moor

Bagging Brown Willy the highest summit in Cornwall (standing at 1,378ft, 420m) has been a long overdue event in the history of our Cornish peregrinations - and one we had first discussed undertaking some 20yrs earlier whilst sipping a pint or several of "Brown Willy" at the Min Pin Inn (Tintagel), which if my dulled memory remains correct - was also the micro-brewery producing the afore-mentioned ale? The pub itself named after the owners/landlords fondness for miniature pinschers.

And so now, on one of the few relatively dry days of our October week in Bodmin - we set out via the National Trust car park to the west of Rough Tor - up the slope, past the footprints of ancient settlements, first to Showery Tor and then on to the splendid summit of Rough Tor with its weather sculpted rocks.

On the western approaches we flushed a flock of Ca. 250 - 300 golden plover (Pluvialis fulva) - almost invisible on the ground in their post breeding plumage, until flight taken. Whereupon they flew south and east out of sight, and perhaps became the flock that we also encountered at Westmoorgate the following day? Their plaintive plue call - a soft addition to the otherwise soundscape of harsh raven call from the tor summits.

A handful of swallow (Hirundo rustica) and two red admiral (Vanessa atalanta) passed us flying strongly south, whilst numerous meadow pipit's and a single wheatear (Oenanthe oenanthe) moved about us on the open moor.

Rough Tor - weather sculpted rock formations
Brown Willy from Showery Tor
The war memorial on Rough Tor - in the presumed foot print
of the Medieval Church ruin?
On the summit of Brown Willy - finally!

Leaving Rough Tor - we quickly followed the tracks to the top of Brown Willy, secured the camera to the wind blown trig point with a handy karabiner, and took the all important summit shot to capture the moment for posterity.

From Brown Willy summit we headed down hill west and south to meet with Fernacre stone circle situated on the moor below the southern flanks of Rough Tor, and its Neolithic and medieval field systems.

Fernacre is one of three large stone circles set close together within the immediate vicinity of Rough Tor - and which are associated with a wealth of Neolithic and early Bronze Age settlements around them.

We have previously visited Fernacre (and Rough Tor) in September 2014 see:


At that time we only had a short afternoon to explore the sites, and did not look for the Louden Hill or Stannon stone circles.

Fernacre stone circle - reprise 2014

On this visit we had given ourselves plenty of time to roam, so following the farm track south west we eventually came upon the Louden Hill stone circle. I say eventually - because although the two circles are only about 1km apart, Louden Hill was far less obvious in the landscape, comprising of mainly very low stones, with only a handful striking any real pose against the skyline.

Expecting the same of Stannon stone circle - we set a compass bearing and headed out over open moor - only to fall about laughing having walked for minutes, when the circle appeared mightily in the distance against the backdrop of the disused quarry. Stannon is an impressive stone circle setting!

Louden Hill stone circle - panorama

the most prominent stone on the south of the monument
 (Louden Hill)

north western stones (Louden Hill)

Stannon stone circle - panorama
Stannon stone circle detail
Louden Hill settlement (remains) above -
medieval long house remains below

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