A Cornish Mountain – Brown Willy

Climbing Brown Willy is not climbing, it is walking. Having said that, there are some steep ascents on the moors. We’d been planning to hike Roughtor and Brown Willy for a while and took a break in the rain as nudge to get out and do it. We recruited quite a group: dad, brother, brother’s girlfriend, wife, father-in-law and step mother-in-law. Some major tragedies such as a veggie pasty drought slowed us down a little, but we made it to Roughtor, ready to hike at around 10:45 am.

Blue skies are seldom seen on Bodmin moor, so we were lucky. We did a reverse loop of the popular Roughtor – Brown Willy route, starting at Little Roughtor.

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From the humble summit of little Roughtor, Charlie realised that we had set off in the wrong direction, but as it was a loop we just decided to carry on and do the whole thing backwards. I had two adventurer OS maps in my backpack, complete with map compass. I’d like to think that if we’d navigated using traditional methods, we might not have gone in the wrong direction. However, with my map reading skill we probably would have done a loop of the carpark instead. We set off for the real Roughtor, looking forward to climbing some of the rock stacks.

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From Roughtor you can see Cornwall’s highest point, Brown Willy. We discussed the best route, and chose to travel as the crow flies. Some of the ground was false beneath our feet and we disappeared into the marshes.

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A black cloud was beginning to move in over Brown Willy. Had our luck run out? Fortunately luck was still on our side as we made it to the mountain. Charlie and I clearly both wanted to be the first to the summit. There’s nothing like a bit of brotherly competition.

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The cloud had now moved and the sun was blinding, making it almost impossible to pick out the best route to scramble up to the summit. I placed my rock on the very top, for a short while claiming the highest point in Cornwall as my own.

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We found a spot for our lunch, sheltering from the wind behind some rocks. Hayley had been carrying the steak pasties we’d picked up for the others the entire way, giving her quite an uncomfortably hot back. The pasty carrier however, is absolutely the most important member of a Cornish hiking team.

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Our last stop on the trail was Showery Tor. This was the smallest of all the summits, but for me it was the most exciting. As we drove into the carpark I had spotted a large, well balanced stack of rocks. I couldn’t wait to get to our last tor for the chance to scramble my way to the top. It was actually quite difficult and involved using some natural hand holds to hoist myself up. On the top it was mighty windy.

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Our last stomp back to the car took us past some sheep, who were quite unsure of the human intruders in their field. I had thought they’d be tamer considering the throngs of ramblers that pass them. As we reached the car, I looked back to see where we had been. The landscape is so vast, I feel like we barely scratched the surface.

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This last photo was taken by my dad after Charlie (finally) made it up to join me on the Showery Tor Cairn. An amazing day with family doing amazing things.

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