There aren’t many mountains in the South West of England but Brown Willy and Roughtor are about as close as you can get without leaving Cornwall.
Windswept barren bog and grassland, inter-spaced with hard granite tors, a challenging environment for a run or walk; but also surprisingly a place of real beauty and of contrast. No wonder this landscape has inspired authors and poets for centuries. The most famous of which has to be Jamaica Inn by Daphne du Maurier. Anyone who has read this book will be able to experience the menacing foul mood of the moor in bad weather described in the book. Wet, muddy, dark. But also when the sun comes out from behind the mizzle; a landscape of colour. Reds, creams, and browns against a dazzling blue sky.
If you are going to run on the moor you will definitely need trail shoes. Much of the moor is marsh. Where it is not marsh it is wet moss, wet grass or wet granite rock. Take spare socks to change into for when your run is over and accept that your feet will get wet.
All of the normal precautions for mountain walking/running apply. Even though the moors only reach a maximum height of 420 metres (1377 ft) they are still remote and exposed. Expect the weather at the top to be wetter, windier and colder and dress appropriately. A map and compass (for if the fog/mist descends), first aid kit, whistle and mobile phone would all be useful too. I even managed to get some phone signal on the top of the tors.
As someone who regularly runs the coast paths of Cornwall (which have their fair share of undulations and weather) I was ‘pleasantly’ surprised by how much of a challenge running on the moors presented me. The thick tufts of woody grasses, the marshy ground (mud up to mid shin level in places), and the wet slippery granite boulders strewn across the moor give you plenty to test your trail running skills on.
And the best thing apart from the sense of being alive that being this close to nature gives you is…
…how great that first cup of tea tastes when you get in off the moor and start to warm up again.