The inky blue water in the River Lynher appeared to be barely moving today as we watched it flow beneath the ancient bridge and then alongside us as we set off through the shadowy interior of Cadsonbury Woods. There is nothing quite like a bit of sunshine to bring out the walkers so of course our numbers were up again after last week’s rather wet walk.
For the second half of the walk we followed the lane back to Callington’s New Bridge which we carefully crossed in single file before turning left to follow another narrow lane. The bridge itself was built in 1478 to replace a former ford but I find it hard to believe that in this little hamlet alone there was once a busy rural centre catering for the needs of local farmers. As recently as 1914 there was still a corn mill, a saw mill, a carpenter’s shop, a smithy and an Inn nearby. All these businesses have long since been converted into dwellings.
This is the former Frogwell Mill which can be seen through the hedge from the A390, minus its waterwheel. The old grainy photo on the postcard below is taken from a slightly different angle but shows exactly where that wheel was positioned on the three-storey building at the turn of the 20th century.
Once over the second stile of the day we found ourselves standing in a rare hay meadow while half a dozen Swallows swooped overhead on the hunt for high flying insects. Tragically, nearly all of our wildflower meadows have disappeared as farming practices have changed and towns and villages have expanded to swallow up flower-rich fields. Luckily some farmers and conservation charities work hard to maintain these precious species-rich habitats. This meadow and the one that followed had yet to reach their peak but shortly they would be humming with life; the flowers may be the stars of the show but don’t forget the insects, especially butterflies such as the Meadow Brown along with the and the buzz of bees laden with pollen along with the whirr of grasshoppers. When we paused for a break a bit further on I sat on the grass and looked about me. This close to the young plants I could identify Speedwells, Clover, Black Medick, Chickweed, Hawkweed, Buttercups, Bird’s-foot Trefoils, Plantains and Lady’s Smock plus several varieties of grasses including one with the wonderful name of ‘Yorkshire Fog’.
More stiles and kissing gates followed connecting the various grasslands before a gate led us through a smallholding and into another quiet lane in the hamlet of Frogwell. Shortly Frogwell Farm was reached with its attractive stone barns and cottages and further on a former Methodist chapel. Another gate led us onto East Frogwell Farm where a shady and rather wet and rocky footpath tucked away in the corner carried us skywards with the last stile of the day almost hidden from view by overhanging trees and invading nettles and brambles. Ahead, beside a hedge at the very top of this steep hill a flock of sheep were grazing contentedly with their young as they nibbled the lush pasture. Half way up the hill we walkers paused to admire the view of Cadsonbury Hill Fort in the distance while behind us the sheep decided to wander off and eat elsewhere. At the highest point of our walk today there were spectacular views towards Bodmin Moor in the west with Caradon Hill being easily recognised with its communication transmitter on the top; to the right of this hill were two of Bodmin’s most famous tors standing out in sharp relief on the skyline…. Roughtor and Brown Willy.
One more gate at the end of the last enclosure brought us out onto a track near Pencreber Farm; this travelled off towards Callington to the left but we followed Maggie to the right down towards the A390, soon the track grew quite precipitous and much stonier. If we dared to take our eyes off the ground, more colourful wildflowers such as Bluebells, Stitchwort, Campions and Cow Parsley could be seen, it is a very pretty track at this time of year.
Long before the A390 was created this was the only road in the area and the main route for the mail coaches that travelled from Callington to Liskeard and beyond at approximately five miles per hour. These coaches would have been pulled by four horses when they left Callington but after galloping down this track and then crossing the bridge they would then climb the steep hill beyond before two of the horses were removed for the remainder of the journey at the so- called ‘take off’ stone, seen below.
It was almost three hours after we had started our walk when New Bridge came into sight again and everyone filed across to get to the car park, but with the sheer number of stiles and gates on this walk, the time it took was inevitable.