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Bodmin Moor does hold the proud title of Britain’s wettest moor but don’t let put you off visiting this amazing part of Cornwall.
Although many tourists flock to the coastline and sandy beaches, Bodmin Moor is a seriously underrated day out with lots of beautiful places to explore.
From ancient standing stones, smuggler’s dens, cascading waterfalls, Arthurian legends and scenic hikes along the moor – there really is something for everyone here.
Not only that but a lot of the attractions and car parks around here are absolutely FREE – so, you don’t really have much to lose.
Here’s a complete guide of what to see and all the amazing things to do on Bodmin Moor!
What is Bodmin Moor?
You’ve probably heard of Bodmin Moor in some way or another from its notorious dark past or being featured in Daphne du Maurier’s famous smuggling novel.
It almost seems like people talk of it in whispers like it’s a forbidden territory you shouldn’t venture out on. But, in fact, many people do not know what Bodmin Moor actually is.
A moor is a large space of uncultivated land and essentially a blanket bog! Which doesn’t sound that great, does it?!
But, today, Bodmin Moor has been recognised as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s not yet a national park but the area has been protected as a beauty spot in Cornwall.
Another question people have is ‘why is Bodmin Moor famous?’.
Well, In the past, this area was largely unexplored, dangerous and even said to be haunted.
Due to the large endless expanse of exposed boggy ground that was prone to fog and could be fatal in darkness – it was easy to get lost or disappear all together on the moor.
Many people got stuck in the bog and eventually died of exposure. Hence, why it gets its terrible reputation!
I know that paints quite a grim picture but don’t fret. Nowadays, the moor has lots of signs, dedicated walkways and settlements in the area.
So, there’s little chance of getting lost if you’re careful and walk-in reasonable daylight.
Why visit Bodmin Moor?
Bodmin Moor is quite a unique and spectacular area for many reasons and there are endless reasons to visit.
It’s famous for being a granite moorland and for having a large amount of ancient standing stones and burial mounds on its land.
It has what feels like infinite emerald rolling hills, rocky peaks to overcome and a patchwork blanket of fields that make even the shortest walk along the moor scenic.
You can stroll along cascading waterfalls, explore ancient woodlands, swim in crystal clear lakes, admire ancient churches, discover neolithic tombs and hop into cave homes.
There are so many reasons to visit Bodmin Moor today but I’ll let my ultimate list of things to do on Bodmin Moor do the talking. You can find that further on down my travel guide.
Is Bodmin Moor safe?
YES, 100%! Bodmin Moor is completely safe to visit today.
I went on a road trip and on a fair few hikes as a solo female traveller and not once did I feel on edge or scared.
Bodmin Moor used to be an extremely dangerous place years ago but now it’s a popular tourist attraction with lots of infrastructure.
You’ll find plenty of walking signs, laid out paths, road signs, some hotels, cafés and lot’s of safe areas to visit.
As long as you use common sense, keep to the designated walking trails, go hiking in reasonable daylight, heed warning signs for mine shafts and avoid annoying the animals grazing here. You’ll be A-OK.
Oh… but before I forget, watch out for the Beast of Bodmin Moor. He’s meant to be rambling around these parts…
Say what now…what is The Beast of Bodmin Moor?!
Okay, okay… I know I couldn’t leave you hanging or miss out that little nugget from my travel guide. So, let’s discuss this notorious Beast of Bodmin Moor.
Having now been to Dartmoor National Park, Exmoor and the Yorkshire moors. There always seems to be a tale of a beast or monster associated with the area.
But, the Beast of Bodmin Moor is one people have actually claimed to have seen and even captured on camera.
The beast is essentially a large phantom wild cat in British folklore.
A series of sightings became famous in the late 1970s after some wild stock had been a victim of its wrath.
It escalated and in 1995 an official scientific investigation was carried out. The report returned that there was no truth in the matter.
A mere few days after that report was published, locals were shocked by the finding of a wild cat skull beside the River Fowey! But, it wasn’t proved to be the beast.
Locals swear it is real and there have been over 60 sightings of it around here. But, scientists reject any notion of it.
It has been supposedly caught on camera and even made front-page news in the UK.
To me, it just looked like a fluffy black house cat! So, I guess you have to decide whether you find any truth in the tale and heed the warning.
The history of Bodmin Moor
I really don’t believe that you can understand this area truly without delving into a little bit of a history lesson about its infamous past.
From early human settlements, Arthurian legends, legendary giants, Christian missionaries, escaped convicts, Smugglers and Wreckers.
There is so much that has happened in this area that makes it what it is today.
All of these stories are what makes Bodmin Moor so magical with an air of mystery surrounding it.
Bodmin Moor as an early settlement
The area of Bodmin Moor in geological terms with the granite land around here date all the way back to the Carboniferous period.
This was around 359 million years ago which is pretty mind-blowing if you think about it.
Recent excavations and discoveries over the years have also determined in historical terms that Bodmin Moor was a huge ancient settlement of early humans.
With tombs that are still standing today that date as far back as 5,000 years ago – it seems that there were early people that lived here during the Neolithic and Bronze Ages!
Most of the discoveries made on the moor relate to ceremonial funeral sites.
With lots of burial chambers, mounds, cairns and standing stone circles that aligned with the solar system.
The acidic soil of the area has meant that no bones could be discovered, so none of that has been absolutely proved.
However, based on other sites the UK, we can make a good guess.
The legends, mysteries and ghosts of Bodmin Moor
Celtic tribes in the dark ages and medieval era would never have been able to tell that these stones related to early humans from thousands of years ago.
In order to understand many of these sites, they were anthropomorphised into legends and stories.
Ancient burial tombs and cairns were explained away by them being called legendary giants that would roam the moor.
The stones had been left here by the giants playing games or were giants who had been petrified. These are still legends that talked about today.
Bodmin Moor has also been connected with King Arthur as very little is known about this legendary monarch.
It’s here that the Lady of the Lake gave Merlin the sword Excalibur to gift to Prince Arthur who would become king.
Some of these ancient stone monuments around the moor are said to have been placed here by King Arthur once he won a battle.
Finally, there are countless stories of Bodmin Moor being haunted!
From murdered sailors, the white lady of Alturnan and the legendary Beast of Bodmin Moor.
The most famous ghost that roams this area is Charlotte Dymond. Her murdered body was found on Rough Tor.
Her jealous boyfriend is said to have killed the young servant and you can still see her wandering the moor in her Sunday best.
The arrival of Christian Missionaries
The battle for Christianity in Cornwall was not an easy one. Cornwall is a Celtic nation and the Celtic Britons didn’t appreciate the invasion of Christian missionaries on their territory.
Many of the early Christian missionaries came overseas from Ireland or Wales and started to preach the Bible all over Cornwall and Bodmin Moor.
Whenever they won a ‘battle’ for Christ, they would place a wooden cross at the site. Eventually, these were made into stone crosses and sometimes a chapel was placed there.
You can still find some of these ancient wayside crosses today along the moor including King Doniert’s stone!
A hive of Smuggler’s and escaped criminals!
Bodmin Moor started to gain an unsavoury reputation during the smuggling era of Cornwall’s history.
In the 18th century, huge tax levies were placed on imported goods and meant that a lot of the common labourers and fisherman couldn’t survive.
So, they started looting shipwrecks on the Cornish coast and steal the goods on board.
They would smuggle the contraband, hide it away and move it on for trade.
Wreckers were in the business of purposely luring the ships on the shore with fake navigation lights knowing it would cause a shipwreck.
After the wreck, they would steal the cargo and kill anyone who survived as they swam to shore for safety.
Pubs and Inn’s were popular places to hide cargo and Jamaica Inn on Bodmin Moor was perfect as it was isolated. It was far away from anything and the authorities wouldn’t venture here.
There were over 100 secret routes that the Smugglers would take from the coast and over the treacherous moor. Eventually, they would hide out in the inn.
You can still visit the famous smuggler’s pub and learn all about it in their smuggler’s museum.
Bodmin Jail was also a famous historic prison located a little while down the road from the moor. It is said that many criminals would escape and attempt to cross the moor.
But, as it is so exposed, they would often be recaptured, get caught in the bog or become a victim of exposure.
There is also tales of Highwayman here who would lie in wait and hold up anyone with means attempting the journey!
Visiting Bodmin Moor today
Despite its mysterious and dangerous past, Bodmin Moor is a gorgeous, quiet and peaceful area of the countryside today.
More roads being placed through the moor, coaching inn’s and residential areas meant that there is a lot more infrastructure here now. It has become quite a popular tourist attraction!
The thing that makes this place so great is the fact that it doesn’t see as many tourists as the coastal areas of Cornwall and much of it still remains untouched and unexplored. So, it’s the perfect place to escape the crowds and get into nature!
Bodmin Moor Poldark filming locations!
If you are travelling around Poldark country then you have to stop at Bodmin Moor!
The scenes shot all around Poldark’s cottage of Nampara are shot on the wild landscape of Bodmin Moor. This is an isolated private farmhouse in the St Breward area.
Also, a lot of the scenes of the cast on horseback were filmed here. It’s also the site of many of the miner’s cottages like the one Ross gifts Jim Carter and the moor is where they shot where Dwight lives as well!
Ross also meets Demelza on a pathway just north of the hamlet of Minions.
If you were looking for Poldark souvenirs on the moor, Jamaica Inn has a whole section. They have DVD’s, tea cloths and lots of Poldark ale, cider and rum!
What is the best time to visit Bodmin Moor?
There isn’t really a ‘bad’ time to visit the moor. Although the fact that it is so exposed and wet doesn’t make it a great stop if it’s the middle of drizzly autumn or winter.
The moor almost is like its own micro-climate and even in the peak of summer, you could see rain or four seasons in one day.
It’s just about preparing for the weather. I visited in June and it was still wet!
The best time to visit the moor for walking is the summer months in June – August when the heat has dried out a lot of the moor.
But, there are plenty of attractions you can visit all year round.
The spring blossoms sprout in March-May, or the autumn colours completely transform the landscape in September – November.
Plus, it looks magical in the winter frost or snow from December – February.
Where is Bodmin Moor in Cornwall?
Bodmin Moor is an area located in the North-Eastern part of Cornwall, almost on the borders of Devon.
It’s 200 square acres of bleak moorland and you’ll almost certainly pass this area on the A30 if you’re travelling down to the coast.
This makes it a great stop on your way in or out of the county and in recent years, I’ve made it a regular stop on my travels out of Cornwall.
It’s easy to access from the coastal villages of Fowey or Par and you can also travel easily here from the nearby rural towns of Bodmin and Liskeard.
For perspective, It’s around a 60 mile journey from Land’s End at Sennen.
How to get to Bodmin Moor
Although there are ways to access the moor via public transport and walking routes. By far the best and most convenient way to travel around Bodmin Moor is by car on a road trip.
It’s a large and extremely remote area with little or no infrastructure. So, having your own transport means you can cover a lot of ground and access most of the best attractions and walks in the area.
There are numerous car parks dotted around the moor that are completely FREE to park in and the walk and attractions are also free. So, it makes it a great budget day out.
Tips for driving around Bodmin moor
Bodmin Moor has many roads that can connect you with pretty hamlets, villages and towns in the area. But, what they don’t say is that these are quite a challenge to navigate!
Singletrack roads, overgrown lanes, weak bridges and sharp winding turns all with a free rein national speed limit means you need to be a little cautious.
Locals will tear around the area here with little or no thought and some tourists will be more cautious than others.
It’s all about being on your guard, using passing places and having a little patience. But hey, I’m no saint!
Public transport on Bodmin Moor
If you don’t have a car and would like to visit some of Bodmin Moor there are some bus services that can connect you with some of the smaller villages and walking routes.
Unfortunately, there are no train stations that can connect you with Bodmin Moor.
However, if you head to the towns of Padstow, Bodmin or Liskeard by train, you can easily catch a ride to the parish of St Cleer or even Bolventor to the Jamaica Inn.
But, it isn’t recommended as bus services can be unreliable and infrequent.
Some travel tips & warnings for visiting Bodmin Moor
- Heed warning signs – Bodmin Moor is a famous boggy and mining area and there are a LOT of hidden muddy areas and shafts on the moor that lead straight underground. Many of these are now gated off but some still remain undiscovered on the moor. Just watch your step and stick to designated walking trails and avoid dangerous areas.
- Keep dogs on a lead – there are many horses, cows and sheep in the fields grazing, plus those mining shafts. You don’t want to lose your dog!
- Poop – with lots of cows and sheep comes A LOT of poop! I’m talking nearly everywhere on the moor. So, wear good walking shoes.
- Leave with enough daylight – Bodmin Moor is known for its endless landscape filled and there is hardly any lighting. At night time it is completely pitch black. Many people have gotten lost of the moor, it’s famous for it! Make sure you explore with reasonable in daylight, it’s better to be safe than sorry. Bring a torch just in case.
- Prepare for the weather – Bodmin Moor has really random weather and is almost like it’s own micro climate. One minute it’s sunny, the next it’s raining, it can be hot and then cold. Make sure you dress appropriately or have something with you for the elements.
- Phone signal – pretty much non-existent on Bodmin Moor. So, have a SatNav or offline map from Maps.Me prepared in case.
What to wear for Bodmin Moor and a quick packing list
Good shoes – Although a lot of the moor is dry and walks are relatively easy. It is full of uneven landscape and boggy territory (it is a moor). So, just come prepared with a good pair of walking shoes or boots. To be fair I wore sketchers, but it’s not the type of place for flip flops.
Clothes for the weather – Cornwall sees a lot of rain and the moor is extremely exposed. So, make sure you come prepared for all weathers.
Bottles of water & snacks – There are a few pit stops you can make on the moor to pubs or some small convenience shops. But, most of the time there is very little around. So come prepared with some water and food just in case.
A torch / phone light – I know I keep harping on but it’s amazing how quickly it can get dark at dusk here and there is no lighting on the moor at all.
Camera – Let’s face it, pictures or it didn’t happen!
18 of the very best things to do on Bodmin Moor
As Bodmin Moor is such a big area with so many attractions, it can be hard to know exactly what spots to cover on your visit.
So, I’ve come up with a list of only the very best things that you can get up to on your visit to the moorland.
You can cover some pretty good ground in just one day, or cover this list in a few days. It’s completely up to you.
1. Visit Dozmary Pool – home of the Lady of the Lake & Excalibur!
The legend of King Arthur and his Camelot are largely connected with Cornwall.
Bodmin Moor also has a pretty big connection to the tales of King Arthur. The largest being near the panoramic Colliford Lake at Dozmary Pool.
The legend goes that Merlin visited the Lady of the Lake. She was an enchantress who lived in a castle inside the lake and played many roles in the tales by enchanting both Merlin and Lancelot.
Dozmary Pool is where the Lady of the Lake gave Merlin Excalibur.
This was to gift to Prince Arthur Pendragon who eventually pulls the sword from the stone and becomes king..
If you weren’t aware of the tales and wanted to get a good overview of them, there are a number of TV shows and movies about the legend like the BBC version which you can now watch on Netflix.
I still retain that the best production of the Arthurian tales of ALL TIME is Merlin starring Sam Neil from 1998.
As a kid, I was obsessed with it and it still makes me cry every single time.
You can even watch the whole thing here for free on YouTube. It is a little dated but has some big actors in it and the story telling is incredible.
The name of the lake is thought to have come from a local girl who was murdered here called ‘Dozy Mary’. Poor thing..
2. Take a walk down Golitha Falls
Golitha Falls is by far Bodmin Moor’s most popular beauty spot and for good reason; it’s magnificent!
The word ‘falls’ is a little misleading though. It’s not a large, crashing waterfall as you would imagine it.
The falls are a series of beautiful scenic cascades that run along the River Fowey and snake through ancient woodland.
This area is now called the Golitha Falls Nature Reserve and it has many spectacular walking trails along the waterfall.
As well as pretty cascades, you can see some amazing flora, fauna and wildlife in the forest.
I absolutely loved my visit here even if it was raining and there is something to do for everyone.
It is extremely accessible, even for pushchairs and wheelchairs, and dogs are allowed here all year.
3. Check out King Doniert’s Stone
King Doniert, or Dungarth, was the last King of Cornwall that reigned in the 9th century.
Many say that he met his end by drowning in Golitha Falls in 875 AD.
Whether he drowned following a terrible accident or he was murdered here, no one knows for sure.
The only evidence that remains of this monarch can be found at a nearby wayside cross next to the Golitha Falls nature reserve.
King Doniert’s stone is made up of two pieces of intricately carved granite stone which appear broken.
One of the stones reads “Doniert rogavit pro anima” which means “Doniert has asked [for this to be made] for his soul[’s sake’]”.
This stone has been really well preserved and not changed much since the 9th century, save it being in two pieces of course!
You can easily access this stone nearby the Golitha Falls reserve. You can walk here or there is a small lay-by to pull into.
4. Make a stop at Inkie’s Smokehouse!
If you’re wondering where to eat on Bodmin Moor, places can seem few and far between.
But, there are some amazing eateries to be found hidden in amongst the moorland if you know where to look.
Inkie’s Smokehouse is one of those places that has a prime spot in the Golitha Falls car park and serves up amazing grub all year round.
As the name would suggest, they do primarily have a US-themed menu of BBQ dishes like juicy ribs, loaded burgers and pulled pork sandwiches. But, there are also other things to eat too.
They have a breakfast menu that serves up some fluffy pancakes or you can stop off here for a coffee and a cake break after you walk to the falls.
I absolutely loved my visit here and treated myself to a well-deserved duffin (doughnut and a muffin) after my hike!
Don’t forget to check out Inkie’s trade post that has lots of foodie gifts and souvenirs to take home.
5. Investigate Trethevy Quoit – an ancient burial chamber!
A few miles down the road from Golitha Falls is Trethevy Quoit. This is a Neolithic Tomb that is thought to have been built in 3,500 BC!
There is a legend that these stones were gathered this way from the local giants playing Quoits, hence how it got its unique name.
This is also sometimes known as King Arthur’s Quoit although the connection is unclear.
This dolmen chamber is made of up five standing stones that are stacked on top of each other.
The shape makes a ‘capstone’ cave and is thought to be an ancient burial tomb or chamber. It’s 2.7 metres high and weighs around 20 tons!
How this has survived and is still standing like this after 5,000 years is mind-blowing.
It’s completely free to visit and there is a small car park just outside of the site for easy access.
6. Check out the hamlet of Minions (no, not the cartoon characters)
Yes, there is, in fact, a place called Minions in Cornwall.
This fact alone has drawn more tourists to Bodmin Moor each year and the locals have made the most of the fact they have the same name as the characters from Despicable Me!
As you enter Minions, you can even see stickers of them on the welcome signs and the Cheesewring Hotel have placed some of the fun characters outside for summer.
However, the real name of the hamlet comes from Minion’s barrow that is an ancient burial just to the West of the village.
As the highest village in all of Cornwall, it’s well worth checking out and you can visit their tourist centre to learn all about the mining heritage in the area.
There are plenty of abandoned mines on the moor and you can learn why inside!
This is also a great stop for some food at the Cheesewring Hotel that serves up lunches, cream teas and pub favourites for dinner.
7. Find the petrified giants at Hurlers stone circles
There have been over 150 stone circles discovered in Britain and 16 lie on Bodmin Moor.
The Hurlers stone circles are probably the most famous of these. They are a series of three stone circles that date back to the Bronze Age.
There is a legend that says these stone circles were giants who were petrified by St Cleer for playing the ancient game of hurling on a Sunday.
As you see them all aligned, it does really look like a squad playing a game.
Excavations have led archaeologists and geologists to believe that these stone circles relate to ancient funeral ceremonies.
Their axis of these stone circles points directly to other burial sites in the area like Rillaton Barrow and other cairns.
So the early humans aligned the circles with the sun as a way to connect with the dead and their gods. Pretty advanced stuff!
If you were interested in visiting more stone circles and then you can check out Stannon Stone Circle further inland.
You can easily walk to The Hurlers from the Hamlet of Minions. Click here for my complete guide on visiting.
8. Visit the Pipers standing stones
The Pipers standing stones can be found a little further on from the Hurlers Stone Circles.
Many historians believe that these two stones were the entrance gate to the cairn that contained the stone circles all those years ago. They perfectly align with them!
A local legend says that these two stones were men who were playing music on a Sunday, so they were petrified into stone. Hence their name.
I would love to have a window into the past to see how this would have looked thousands of years ago and what these monuments were really used for. It would be so fascinating, don’t you think?!
9. Hike up to Stowe’s Hill / Pound
The walk up to Stowe’s Hill is one of the best and scenic on the moor.
Not only does this route allow you to stop off at the various ancient cairns, tombs and burial mounds on the way but you can also visit the famous Cheesewring too.
It’s not a strenuous walk by any means but you will be reaching heights over 1,000 feet above sea level here!
The views from the top of the summit are spectacular and you can see the endless countryside from every angle. There are plenty of granite rocks to sit awhile and take in the vista.
Fun Fact: The Cheesewring Quarry that sits nearby was founded in 1845 and provided a lot of the granite cladding for the Tower Bridge in London! It’s out of use as a quarry and is now used by rock climbers.
10. Find Daniel Gumb’s Cave
There is a legendary resident of Bodmin Moor who became known as the ‘moorland man’.
Daniel Gumb was a stonemason from St Cleer who got pretty fed up with paying his expensive taxes. So, he decided to leave his expensive house and live in a cave on the moor.
It’s hard to believe but his tiny cave-dwelling housed his wife and six children!
Having seen it, it must have been quite a squeeze. When he was alive people paid no mind to the moorland man, but on his death, he became a Victorian tourist attraction.
Many visitors would drop by the cave and see the carvings left inside by him and his family.
You can still see and go inside the cave now at the bottom of Stowe’s Hill.
11. Visit the bizarre Cheesewring standing stone
Of all the ancient standing stones on Bodmin Moor, the Cheesewring is the most bizarre.
It’s a stack of stones that almost seems like it could topple in the shape it’s in – but somehow it manages to stay standing.
It’s thought that this unusual rock pile occurred over many thousands of years naturally due to weathering. But, of course, it also comes with its own legend as to how it came to be.
There is a legend that the giants were unhappy with Christianity arriving in Cornwall. So, the giants sent their biggest giant, Uther, to challenge the saints.
Uther challenged Saint Tue to a rock-throwing match. If Uther won, the saints would leave Cornwall, if the Saints won the giants would convert to Christianity.
Uther and Saint Tue were neck and neck in the game on their twelfth stone. But, Uther missed on the thirteenth and his rock slipped.
Saint Tue threw his stone and an angel miraculously landed his on top of the pile. True to his word, Uther and the giants then converted to Christianity!
You can visit this amazing monument on Stowe’s Hill. Click here to read my complete hiking guide on what to expect!
12. Check out Rillaton Barrow – where the Rillaton Gold Cup was found
Rillaton Barrow is another ancient burial mound that is close by the area of Stowe’s Pound and has been the site of numerous excavations over the years.
This area is famous for having the famous Rillaton Gold Cup buried underground.
This artefact is a ribbed gold cup that dates back to the Bronze Age and it’s extremely rare.
When it was first discovered it was gifted to King George V and he used (of all things) it as his personal shaving cup!
On his passing, his great collection was donated to various museums and now it sits in the British Museum in London for all to see.
Apparently a local legend says this cup was owned by a druid who would provide a drink to travellers passing by…but it was an undrainable cup!
One day, a traveller got annoyed with the trick and threw the contents back at the druid. The traveller’s body was found dead on the moor days later.
13. Check out Long Tom Standing Stone
As I mentioned earlier, many early Christian missionaries would place wooden crosses where they won a ‘battle’ for Christ for preaching Christianity here.
Overtime when Christianity took hold, these were replaced with stone crosses and some even had chapels built on the site. These were often named by the saints who founded them.
The Long Tom Standing Stone or Longstone Cross is one of the most preserved examples of an ancient wayside cross in Cornwall.
It is thought to be a pagan standing stone that was ‘recycled’ into a Christianised cross as a friendly reminder for local pagans to convert.
14. Learn about Bodmin Moor’s mining history
If you have been a fan of Poldark over the years, you’ll be familiar with Cornwall’s immense mining history of the past.
Tin and Copper mines can be found scattered all over Bodmin Moor. All of these historic buildings are now unused and abandoned but many of their mine shafts underground still remain.
Most of the dangerous areas have been blocked off, but you still hear of some mine collapses happening across the moor.
The most famous near Minions and Liskeard is the Phoenix United Mine that provided lots of work in the 19th century.
Many of these abandoned sites are blocked off for safety. But, if you were curious to know more, you can visit the Minions Heritage Centre which is located inside the Old South Phoenix Mine on the moor.
15. Visit Jamaica Inn – the famous Smuggler’s pub!
Without a doubt the coolest pub to visit on Bodmin Moor is Jamaica Inn. An old smuggler’s pub where wreckers used to hide their illegal contraband.
It opened up in 1750 and for a long time, it was a dangerous area where cutthroats, highwaymen, smugglers and wreckers would meet.
The authorities wouldn’t dare venture all the way over here as it was so exposed so it was the perfect spot.
The smugglers had over 100 secret routes from the coast and over the moor to hide their loot and this coaching inn acted as a stopping point.
A reputation has always preceded over this inn, but it was truly made famous when Daphne du Maurier wrote her famous novel in 1936.
She made this place a pirate’s den where the smugglers would plan their operations and smuggle the cargo.
Today, the inn is a much friendlier place and has a pub, restaurant, hotel, gift and farm shop to visit throughout the day.
If you were curious to learn about Cornwall’s grisly smuggling past there is now smuggler’s museum on site.
16. Visit the Smuggler’s Museum
There are plenty of unique museums in Cornwall. From Bodmin Jail, the Museum of Witchcraft and Magic in Boscastle and the Old Post Office at Tintagel.
But, the smuggler’s museum really has a unique story to bring to the table.
This delightful exhibition has one of the largest collection of smuggling artefacts in the country!
You can learn all about how smugglers used to run their operations and how they used to hide illegal goods. From their corsets to shoes, powdered wigs and even valuable tortoise shells, they would hide things in just about anything!
I learned a lot about smugglers and wreckers from Daphne du Maurier’s novel but it’s almost romanticised.
This museum was fascinating as it gives you the true, pretty grisly, picture of how it operated and the consequences.
For fans of Daphne du Maurier there is also a memorial room dedicated to her that has her old Sheraton writing desk, type writer and some du Maurier cigarettes named after her father.
The smugglers museum is open from 8am – 9pm as part of the Jamaica Inn. Click here for more information.
17. Hike up Brown Willy & Rough Tor
Fans of du Maurier’s Jamaica Inn will be very familiar with Rough Tor pronounced ‘Row Tor’ that is featured in the shocking denouement of the story.
But, don’t worry, you won’t find anything unsavoury there today and it’s actually one of the best peaks of the moor.
On top, you’ll find some unusual and dramatic standing stones perched on its peak. The summit also provides some breathtaking views.
Brown Willy derives from the old Cornish words that translate to “highest hill”. True to its name, it is the highest peak of the moor at 1,378 feet above sea level.
Although it hasn’t ever been excavated, it’s thought to be a holy burial ground and a resting place of an ancient Cornish king.
At certain times of the year, mainly on solstice days, Brown Willy perfectly aligns with Rough Tor and Stannon Stone Circle nearby.
This means that these ancient burial sites were connected with an astrological purpose all those years ago.
18. Visit the Carnglaze Caverns
Although technically not ‘on’ the moor, it is just outside it on the southern edge. So, I still think it’s relevant for this list.
Carnglaze Caverns is an amazing attraction that is made up of three man-made caves that used to be part of the quarry at Loveny Valley.
This premier underground attraction is great for all weathers and a guided tour will take you below ground to see some of the most beautiful caverns.
The caves almost look magical with crystal clear waters and have been lit up so you can see everything inside them clearly.
It’s also in amongst beautiful woodland that has been enchanted with faeries, dragons and mushrooms on a trail to follow.
Bodmin Moor Facts
- Bodmin Moor is an area of Specific Scientific Interest and An Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty
- It this boggy moorland covers an area of 200 square kilometres
- There are approximately 10,000 cows, 55,000 ewes and 1,000 horses and ponies on the moor
- Many of Cornwall’s rivers throughout the county have their sources right here on the moor
- The Beast of Bodmin Moor is a local legend like the Loch-ness monster!
- There used to be hundreds of secret routes on the moor for Smuggler’s to hide their contraband
Where to stay on Bodmin Moor
The best place to stay on Bodmin Moor has to be Jamaica Inn. This notorious smuggler’s inn is the perfect home for the night.
Although the inn has been here since the 1750s, the boutique rooms inside today are extremely cosy, luxurious and modern.
Your room rate comes with a fully cooked breakfast and you have the added benefit of a pub and restaurant onsite.
But, I will warn you that this place is famous for being haunted by ghosts and was featured on Most Haunted!
Having stayed there myself, I’m happy to report I didn’t see any spooky goings-on.
Can you wild camp on Bodmin Moor?
Wild Camping is not permitted in many parts of the England, Wales and Northern Ireland and is illegal. The only place that it is (sort of) permitted is Dartmoor National Park.
So, unfortunately, wild camping is strictly not allowed on Bodmin Moor.
One small loophole is that wild camping is permitted with explicit permission from the land owner.
If you were looking to go camping on Bodmin Moor there are a wealth of places where you can pay to pitch your tent.
Siblyback Lake is a popular spot and provides a scenic location with lots of water sport activities for hire. Click here to book.
Things to do in Bodmin
So, once you’ve had a good mooch around the moor, what now? Well there are plenty of places that you can visit just outside of Bodmin Moor.
The nearby town of Bodmin, is a heritage area that is famous for its resident jail. Indeed, Bodmin Jail was a notorious prison back in the day.
All manner of debtors, poachers, smuggler’s, murderers and robbers were kept here in its walls. It’s now a museum that is said to be haunted.
Brave souls can even stay over for the night in their hotly anticipated boutique hotel due to open in 2020!
Nearby is Cornwall’s Regimental Museum which has over 12,000 military artefacts to find or you can go for The Courtroom Experience which is a unique attraction where you can get involved in a historic trial.
Lanhydrock Estate is a magnificent Victorian house and gardens to enjoy with plenty of woodland walks.
If stately homes are your thing you can also visit Pencarrow House and gardens, a delightful Palladian mansion owned by the Molesworth-St Aubyns family for over 500 years.
St Petroc’s Church is also worth a peek inside which was found by St Petroc, the patron saint of Cornwall. It’s the oldest parish church in the county established in 500 AD.
The best things to see in North Cornwall
If you were planning a trip to North Cornwall and wanted to see the very best of the area, then there are plenty of gorgeous villages, ancient sites and coastal areas worth seeing.
Fowey is a gorgeous fishing village quite close and was home to Daphne du Maurier who lived in the estuary once upon a time.
Or, if you want a great introduction to Poldark country you can visit Charlestown near St Austell whose harbour and tall ships featured in the show!
The Lost Gardens of Heligan is an incredible botanic paradise that was rediscovered after the first world war.
Or, if you are particularly green-fingered the Eden Project may fascinate you with an indoor rainforest in the nearby Par.
Gorgeous places to visit in South Cornwall
The south of Cornwall is equally as beautiful as the North and has many beaches, villages, and secret coves to find.
The perfect place for a road trip! If you want a truly breathtaking location, then you must head to Marazion to walk over to the mysterious St Micheal’s Mount. This gorgeous tidal island is full of myths and magic.
Mousehole is a quintessentially Cornish fishing village which is effortlessly scenic with its small working harbour.
The Minack Theatre is a work of art by Rowena Cade that sits on the rocky shore of Minack Head which has some jaw-dropping views of Porthcurno Beach. This is one of Cornwall’s top beaches and another Poldark location!
If you’re looking for idyllic coves to visit then you must discover the hidden gem of Porthgwarra that you can only access through a cave. Or, head to Kynance Cove which is spectacular.