Online | Looe|
Bay | Polperro
Peninsula | Kingsand
LISKEARD & BODMIN MOOR
Liskeard is an ideal base from which to explore. Situated at the head of the Looe Valley, it has long been an important market centre and was one of the four original Stannary towns. The mining industry played an important part in the town's growth and in 1828 a canal link enabled ore and stone to be carried down to Looe. The railway which replaced it has become today's single track branch line along scenic wooded riverbanks, the Looe Valley Line.
Liskeard remains a picturesque and lively market town, full of interesting buildings: a Victorian Guildhall and clock tower; the Stuart House where Charles I stayed in 1644; and the second largest church in Cornwall. Market days are still held every Monday and Thursday and the town now has an excellent leisure centre, Lux Park.
To the north west of Liskeard lies the windswept uplands of Bodmin Moor, a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The moors, shrouded in mist and mystery, hold abundant clues for those who want to delve into the past - burial chambers and holy wells, giant stones and Bronze Age settlements, decayed mine-workings and disused quarries. When you visit the moors you are retreading the footsteps of Neolithic man, of Cornish Kings, and of the thousands of miners who once worked the area.
At St Cleer, on the edge of the moors and surrounded by farmland, another Holy Well can be found. Housed in a granite baptistry, the well was used to treat the insane, who were repeatedly tossed up and down in the water until sanity returned. North of St Cleer stands King Doniert's Stone, on which a Latin inscription asks for prayers for the Cornish King, who drowned in 875. Nearby is the Neolithic burial chamber known as Trethevy Quoit (c3500BC), where five huge stones support a massive capstone.
Once the centre of mining activity, the village of Minions boasts the highest pub in Cornwall. The setting of E V Thompson's historical novel Chase the Wind, a century ago the area would have been teeming with miners and quarrymen seeking granite, copper and lead, but today the nearby Cheesewring Quarry is deserted except for rock climbers. On the edge of the quarry stands the Cheesewring itself, an extraordinary natural tor formed from precariously balanced rocks, resembling a massive cheese squashed in a press.
Close by Minions village are the three ancient stone circles called The Hurlers. Two standing stones to the west are The Pipers and the surrounding hills abound with burial mounds and Bronze Age settlements, particularly below Tregarrick Tor. Beyond the circles, Rillaton Barrow is the site where in 1837 a ribbed cup of beaten gold was found beside a skeleton in a large stone cist.
At Upton Cross you can visit Sterts Arts & Environmental Centre, where plays are performed in the open- air ampitheatre throughout the summer. In the Visitors' Centre at Siblyback Lake Park you can view geological displays and artefacts from a medieval tin mill, and go sailing and fishing on the lake itself.
Another park, at nearby Colliford Lake, offers rare breeds, a pets' corner, and birdwatching, fishing and enjoyable lakeside walks. Dozmary Pool, at the northern end of the lake, is said to be where King Arthur's Excalibur was received by a hand rising from the water. Another legend concerns the unjust magistrate Jan Tregeagle who, condemned by the devil to empty the pool with a leaking limpet shell, can still be heard howling with despair.
Further south, the village of St Neot has a fascinating church with impressive stained glass and a fine granite 9th century cross. Look up and you will see an oak branch tied to the tower. This is renewed every Oak Apple Day (May 29) in a ceremony started by royalists to give thanks for the tree which hid Charles 11 after the Battle of Worcester. Nearby, at the head of the wooded valley of the River Fowey, you can visit the exquisite Golitha Falls, an outstanding beauty spot and now a National Nature Reserve.
West of St Neot, the remote hamlet of Warleggan was where the eccentric, tragic, Reverend Densham kept the church locked and preached to a congregation of cardboard figures.
At the Carnglaze Slate Caverns you can see the subterranean blue lake. Other attractions in the area include Lanhydrock, Bodmin Farm Park and the nostalgic Bodmin Steam Railway.