CHIMNEY ROCK COMMUNITY WALK
Saturday 17th February saw a small group of nine people and three dogs set off for the second community walk of 2019. After several days of glorious sunshine, we walked mostly in dull cloudy weather with a few spots of rain. But it didn’t stop the walk and we were all dressed for the conditions.
Our route was a circular one taking in the fabulous Chimney Rock that most residents of Gunnislake really feel belongs to us as we enjoy looking over to see it in all weathers. We started the walk at the Tamar Trails car park in Gulworthy, now a very popular, well-used local beauty spot. Our original walk was planned for Cotehele Quay to Bohetherick but that was cancelled as there was a big gig boat regatta going on and limited parking. As it was, when we arrived at the Tamar Trails car park it was almost full too. Each Saturday there is a park run through the area; the runners had just finished and were either leaving or enjoying a coffee at the Beech Cafe there.
We set off in what would seem the opposite direction for the walk but we soon branched right through Blanchdown Woods passing the junior zip wire section. We joined the main trail after a few minutes and turn right, in the direction of Morwellham. As part of the development of the Tamar Trails a new pass was built in recent years, Bawdens Corner bridge, avoiding the busy A390 road to Tavistock. Here are the buried remains of the old railway tunnel. The Mineral Railway was build by the Devon Great Consul Company in 1858, a 7.5 km route from the mine to Morwellham. Our walk took us along or beside this former track, with some views back over to the Tamar valley and Gunnislake perched on the hillside with Kit Hill in the distance.
We ambled along at a gentle pace, enjoying the ponies in one field. We safely crossed the short-cut road, where we could see the remains of another railway tunnel. We were now in a deep cutting for a while and then into the woods again. Tavistock Woodlands Estate manage these woods and there was evidence of a large section of the trees having been felled recently. Buzzards, rooks, owls, ravens and woodpeckers all live in these woods along with myriad other creatures. They kept a low profile as we chatted along the way. Now and again we could catch a glimpse through the trees of our own homes. February is a good time to walk here as some trees are leafless, but still quite dense.
After about half an hour walking towards Morwellham, we came down to a stream in the Wheal Russell area and turned right and back on ourselves on to a lower trail with mine remains mostly hidden on our left. If you do geocaching locally, you will know where to find the treasure here. The track then forks left again to reach Chimney Rock and here there are more occasional glimpses of the open valley and houses. Underfoot the track is much narrower with steep drops to the left and plenty of tree roots to negotiate. It’s a really secret sort of a path with the River Tamar hidden from view way down below.
Then, suddenly, Chimney Rock is reached and the choice is to clamber down to the base of the Rock and stand on a ledge to take in the spectacular view or stay safe on the track. Most of us did brave it, but none climbed on to the top, thankfully. There’s a wonderful view down river too. My home is on Tamar Way and so I phoned my husband to come outside and wave to us. Voices carry very well from the Rock, so be careful what you say up there! The route now carried on the same contour for five minutes and then turned steeply up right to join the original trail and back to the car park and refreshments in the cafe.
All in all a very enjoyable local walk with stunning scenery and peaceful surroundings where once there would have been a busy, noisy, industrial mining scene. Our next walk will be on Saturday 16th March when we will have a guided historical walk with Paul Reid on Hingston Down.