Another Camel trail
The River Camel is best known by those who walk or cycle the Camel Trail between Padstow and Wadebridge, by which time it is more an estuary than a river. To search out its source you need to climb high onto Bodmin Moor, and this walk explores the river a mile or two from its start, as it winds its way between moorland and farmland. Although we hope the direction below are clear, we would recommend taking the OS map with you on this walk, as signposts are few and far between. We would also recommend walking boots as the walk can be muddy.
The walk starts in the town of Camelford at St Thomas’s Church Field carpark, near to where the original ford across the river would have been. Come out of the carpark and turn right crossing the road at the traffic lights. Turn right and continue up the hill passing the shops and the former town hall with its clock tower surmounted by a camel weathervane. Keep an eye out for footpath going off on the left under an arch. It is signposted ‘Riverside Walk’ but the sign is not seen until you turn into the path.
Descend down to the river and follow the path along to a bridge where you cross the river, only to cross back a little further downstream. The name Camel has nothing to do with the ship of the desert , but means twisty or crooked in Cornish. The river is about 30 miles long, and yet at this point you are only about six miles from Padstow where it reaches the sea.
Follow the river down the valley until you reach the clapper bridge at Fenteroon. Don’t cross the bridge but instead turn right and climb the hill past the farm. As you reach the first bungalow on the right look for a footpath on the left that leads across two fields via enclosed fencing. The path then goes over a slate stile and descends steeply through woods full of bluebells in the spring.
Exiting the woods, head out across the water meadow following a well-worn path. This will bring you to another bridge across the river from which you climb up through a field to meet a lane. Turn right here and pass in front of Trethin, taking a stile on the left that leads through their garden. Don’t veer from the path and please keep dogs on a lead. Leave the garden in the far corner and immediately you will see the tower of Advent Church ahead of you. Continue towards it, entering the churchyard via a stile over on the left.
Advent Church sits all on its on surrounded by fields, the parish has no village and only a collection of scattered small holdings on the western edge of Bodmin Moor. If it’s open take a look inside at what is a bright but plain interior. Leave the churchyard by the main gate and walk down the drive to the lane at the bottom. Turn left here and follow the lane as it climbs between high banks that are rich in flora throughout the spring and early summer. When you get to a Y shaped junction take the left-hand lane from which you will soon gain views of Roughtor and Brown Willy, Cornwall highest hills. The latter, to the right of the two standing at 1375ft (420 m), the highest.
The lane starts to drop, and you will soon find yourself in the hamlet of Watergate. Only a handful of houses are scattered around the valley, but on the hill overlooking the valley are the remains of at least 16 round houses dating back to the Bronze Age. Another clapper bridge crosses the stream at the bottom, but again we turn left just before we reach it to walk over stepping stones through the waterside meadow with the ruins of a settlement between the trees just up-slope. Keep beside the stream heading towards the upper side of the fir trees where a stile is hidden. In the next field head gently uphill passing three piles of scattered stones, the remains of Bronze Age cairns containing an unusually high amount of white quartz stone.
Continuing in a similar direction, carry on across the field towards a modern building consisting of two ‘boxes’ with a connecting section in between. To the right of this is a gate leading onto the road. Cross the road and to the left of the buildings of Moorgate farm you will find a stile leading into fields. Heading in a northerly direction, cross the first two fields before picking up a hedge on your lefthand side. Follow this, as it becomes a track, to Aldermoor Farm where you turn left down the lane. On reaching Treclago Farm turn right along a track, carrying on straight ahead at the crossroads until you come to a field. Descend here, keeping right, to a footbridge over a stream at the bottom and then uphill to reach College Road which will bring you back into Camelford, virtually opposite the carpark.
Walk length 5 miles (8km)
OS Map Explorer 109
Public Toilets in Camelford
Walk created by Walkaboutwest August 2020