Link to main content

Jay Walking

LEJOG: Shells Wood to Altarnun

I had a rather sleepless night,  maybe it was because it was my first solo wildcamp but it may have been initially because of the mass of birds twittering as they went to sleep. However I think it was mainly because of the concert or performance that was happening somewhere nearby.  A man was singing a variety of classic hits from Queen to Don McLean, all without a band and to occasional applause. I found myself wondering if he had invited his friends round and inflicted this performance on them as there didn't seem to be a huge crowd. He finished around 10pm but there was periodic recorded music for a while after.  Later on I was woken up by some animal sniffing around my tent, I have no idea what it was but it must have been a reasonable size.  Added to this was the fact that my pitching of the tent wasn't great so I was lying at an odd angle.

Previous night's campsite, behind some trees up a slope behind a picnic area
My wildcamp was up the slope behind the bench on the left
Lady Downs, moorlands below a cloudy sky
Lady Downs

I woke at 6am and quickly moved all my stuff and took down the tent and was off around 6:50am.  I had been worried about getting water but a few hundred meters along the Camel Trail was a place I could get to the river so I filtered an additional 3 litres leaving me carrying 4 litres.  I was soon at the end of the trail and changed my route to head directly to Bodmin Moor instead of going via the village of St Breward heading along roads in North Easterly direction.

It was a cool morning and easy walking despite the extra water, at one point I stopped and talked to a park ranger, who told me of an encounter he had had with a wild camper on Bodmin Moor. The camper had been abusive when asked to move on or after being questioned and in the end the police had been called. I confessed that I had wild camped the night  before but the rangers seemed  more bothered by the abuse than the camping. It seems that behaviour like this has increased since COVID as more people have been heading out to camp in remote places, but without the necessary respect for the environment.

Group of horses and foals on Lady Downs
Horses on Lady Downs
Funnel spiders web
Spiders web

I was soon on Lady Downs, walking on the them was a pleasure.  The sun was hidden by clouds and there was a cooling breeze, there were ponies and cows roaming free and of lots funnel shaped spiders webs.  I made good speed and was soon on the well marked footpath to King Arthur's Hall which is a rectangular shaped bordered with stones thought to be of Neolithic age.  After this I headed on towards Garrow Downs following a path which contoured round it. I  was just to the South West of Brown Willy the largest hill on Bodmin Moor.

A stile with a sign saying Footpath to King Arthur's Hall
Well marked stile
Brown Willy the largest hill on Bodmin Moor
Brown Willy

I had thought the new route would allow easy access to the footpaths West of Garrow Downs but it was not to be.  There didn't seem to be a way to get there so I kept on North hoping to get back to my original route.  It was hard going as there were no paths and trying to walk on the moorlands was hard.  There are clumps of grasses raised above the earth,I fell over  a few times negotiating them.  I was hemmed in by wire fencing and in the end the only way onwards was to climb over them, which was something I didn't want to do.  I eventually got back on track but it had been slow and hot work, the sun was up and the breeze had gone and there was no escape from the heat.  It seems like you can get to Brown Willy from the North but not the South, or at least I could not find a way.

I headed on to the East skirting one large hill and struggling to find a footpaths to take me to West.  I think was I flagging by this point, I had not been taking enough breaks or drinks and instead of doing the sensible thing I kept going, though my normal rule is to stop every hour and drink some water.  After struggling to the top of a hill, I followed the field boundary and got on the path to the small village of Five Lanes.  I had originally thought to keep on going past the village and continue on to Launceston, but the time spent faffing on the moors and the heat dissuaded me.  It was 28 degrees today and was set to be 33 degrees tomorrow and London was heading for a potentially record breaking 39 degrees, so it was going to be too hot for walking.

Picture of my legs showing many scratches from walking on the moorlands
My legs

I reached The King's Arms pub in the village and had a roast dinner, plus an Eton Mess and organised camping for the next 2 nights.  I was pretty tired now, the heat had drained me of all energy, so I sat in the pub relaxing out of the sun for a while before setting off to find the campsite. At the very basic campsite I chatted to the owner for a while before setting up my tent.  We had been to a lot of the same places and done the same things such as picking grapes in Mildura, Australia.  There only one couple also staying here, the man was wondering about in the nude for some reason, but they left in the evening.  After dinner I had a standing wash at the watertap, it was the only way to get clean after the hot day and felt really good.

Additional info

Date walked
17 July 2022
Distance walked
16 km or 9.94 miles
Cumulative distance
78.2 km or 48.59 miles
Weather
Slightly cloudly with breeze then very hot later