The ancient town of Camelford makes an ideal touring centre, being only a few miles from the surfing beaches of North Cornwall and the natural beauty and ancient sites of Bodmin Moor.
The River Camel
Rising high on the wild Bodmin Moor, the River Camel gets its name from its snaking course through mid Cornwall. From its source to the north of Camelford, and only three miles from the sea, it flows southwest towards Bodmin in the centre of Cornwall. Here it turns and continues northeast passing Wadebridge, towards the sea beyond Padstow.
It's the second longest river completely in Cornwall at around 30 miles in length and is joined by both the River Allen and the De Lank as it makes its way to the sea. From Wadebridge it's tidal, the wide estuary spreading out as it approaches Padstow and out to the famed doom bar. The river is famed for its salmon and trout fishing, particularly sea trout, and in the estuary, flounders are a favourite with anglers.
For much of its route it can be followed by the Camel Trail, a recreational walking and cycling route that was created from disused railway lines. North from Wenford Bridge, the Camelford Way is a walking route only that follows the valley further up to Camelford and is delightful in the spring when bluebells carpet the valleys bottom.
The ford across the river is now a bridge on the busy A39 which still winds through Camelford despite many calls for a bypass. The town has a selection of shops and pubs and is a good base for exploring Bodmin Moor and the coast around Tintagel and Boscastle.
The high moors
From Camelford it's a short drive out to the Forestry Commissions carpark below Roughtor, pictured here. Roughtor is pronounced Rowtor, as in cow, and is the second highest hill in Cornwall, its rock crowned summit a favourite walk for many. On the summit are the remains of a medieval chapel which now contains a memorial to the men of the 43rd (Wessex) Division who lost their lives in the Second World War.
From the summit you get a great view of Brown Willy, Cornwall's highest point at 1,378 ft (420 metres) above sea level. If the weathers good it's worth the extra mile of walking to climb to the top, though Roughtor is possibly the more interesting hill?
To the north of Roughtor is a smaller hill called Showery Tor, on top of which is a natural cheesewring formation surrounded by a Bronze Age cairn. This is just one of many prehistoric sites in the surrounding area which includes a whole settlement between Roughtor and the carpark plus a couple of stone circles on the south side.
Of a much later age, the memorial to Charlotte Dymond to the left of the path as you return to the carpark was erected after she was murdered on the moor in 1844.
This part of the moor is a popular place to watch starling murmurations on winter evenings, with 1000s of the birds roosting in the conifer plantations beside the carpark.
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Plan your trip
Everything you need to know to plan your perfect trip to Camelford
From the M5 at Exeter take the A30 until a few mile east of Launceston. Turn off onto the A395 following it to the A39. From here follow signs to Camelford.
There are is a pay and display car park on the right as you reach the bridge over the river.
Two busses serve Camelford, the 95 which runs between Bude and Newquay via Wadebridge and Tintagel, and the 96 which runs from Wadebridge to Bodmin via Rock and Port Isaac (2023)
The nearest National Express stop is Bodmin.
The nearest railway station is Bodmin. A bus from there takes you into the town where a connecting bus (No96) serves Camelford (2023)
Yes, but please keep them on leads during nesting season and also when sheep are lambing. This stretches from March 1st until July 31st.
Help our farmers and our wildlife.
Cornwall's North Coast has plenty to see and do, from Bude in the far north, all the way down to Perranporth. It's famed for its long sandy beaches and big cliffs. It's a surfers paradise, it's got history and heritage at Tintagel and Boscastle, it's got fantastic walks and views... The easy answer is, don't miss any of it!
It's about a 10 minute drive from Camelford to Trebarwith Strand, which has a lovely beach when the tides out, but nothing when it's in! for guaranteed sand, it's better to head for Polzeath or Bude, both less than half an hour away by car.
The North Cornwall Railway reached Camelford in 1893, connecting the town to Exeter and London. Unfortunatly, like many other railways it closed in 1966. The former station building, a couple of miles outside the town centre, is now a private residence.
Nobody really knows for sure.. there have been many sightings over the years, but nothing has ever been proved. People claim the beast is a large cat, released into the wilds many years ago, but although there have been some grainy images produced, all attempts to capture it have failed.
We would like to assure people that it is safe to walk on the moor!
Yes, of course it is! We like to think it is better than Dartmoor, in that it's not so big, easier to navigate over and full of interesting things to see. There's so much history, from prehistoric standing stones to World War Two airfields. And on its south side it is part of Cornwall's World Heritage mining areas.
It's also very close to both the northa nd south coast of Cornwall if you fancy a change of view.
Discover your Cornwall
Long sandy beaches, hidden coves, rugged moorland, quaint fishing villages, deep wooded valleys, bustling seaside resorts, industrial heritage, rocky headlands, colourful gardens, idyllic rivers and a bijou city, Cornwall has a bit of everything for those who want to explore.
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