a hike up brown willy

At the top of Brown Willy, Cornwall

Anyone outside of Cornwall may be slightly worried about the connotations relating to the title of this post. Fear not, Brown Willy is merely the highest peak in Cornwall and translates rather more romantically, from old Cornish, as ‘hill of swallows’.

Perched up on the north of Bodmin Moor, it’s a mantle on the Cornish landscape, visible from the A30 and responsible for all manner of bad weather fronts, known as the Brown Willy Effect. And this weekend, we packed up the van with walking boots, water bottles, one black dog and some food provisions with the aim of conquering this mighty 420m peak.

A year or so ago we clambered up Rough Tor, the craggy little sister to Brown Willy, and on our way to the start of the walk we drove through a grassy little idyll, dotted with gnarly trees, rushing little streams crossed by granite slab foot bridges, and a voluptuous valley running right up onto the moor with the peak of Brown Willy just visible on the horizon.

This little place was just outside of Bowithick, and my friends is quite possibly the most divine little spot we’ve ever had the luck to discover in Cornwall. We parked up for the night, watched the huge, yellow harvest moon rise in the sky, whilst listening to bleeting sheep and the rush of water in the streams. In the morning we packed up our bags and headed out up the valley and on to the moor – just us, the dog, a lot of sheep, a few cattle, moorland ponies, skylarks and swallows.

On the way up we headed straight up the hill, past the source of the River Fowey. From the top of Brown Willy you can see for miles, north to Camelford, south over the shimmering Colliford Lake and on wards to Caradon Hill and beyond. On the way down we hugged into the valley that runs through Brown Willy and Rough Tor and back down to Bowithick, following the stream on it’s journey seaward.

And at the end of the walk we lay by the stream with a cup of tea, whilst the black dog adopted a ‘bake and dip’ routine. Heaven.

The walk is relatively easy and took us about 4 hours in total, which included lots of stops to eat biscuits and enjoy the views.

Ford at Bowithick, Bodmin

Walking to Brown Will, Bodmin

Wild ponies on Bodmin Moor, Cornwall

The view of Rough Tor from Brown Willy

At the top of Brown Willy, Cornwall

At the top of Brown Willy, Cornwall

heading back down the valley from Brown Willy

heading back down the valley from Brown Willy

sheep on Bodmin Moor


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