‘Fell’ running fun in Cornwall: Roughtor and Brown Willy, Bodmin Moor. Walk or Run.

Brown Willy Downs looking up at the south side of Brown Willy tor.

Brown Willy Downs looking up at the south side of Brown Willy tor.

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.

Brown Willy view towards Colliford Lake.

Brown Willy and the view towards Colliford Lake.

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 want to explore Bodmin Moor OS map 109 is a must. If you know the moors at all then you might want to consider the waterprooof version!

Sun, blue sky and vivid colours over the moors.

Sun, blue sky and vivid colours over the moors.

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.

Moody Bodmin Moor, light over the moors.

Moody Bodmin Moor, light over the moors.

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.

View from the car park fence (nr. Camelford) looking up to Roughtor.

View from the car park fence (nr. Camelford) looking up to Roughtor.

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…

Highest point on Bodmin Moor 420 metres.

Highest point on Bodmin Moor 420 metres.

…how great that first cup of tea tastes when you get in off the moor and start to warm up again.

Enjoy

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