So today we would be navigating Bodmin Moor. Well, Tarrant would be navigating. I would mostly be eating cookies and Instagraming because if navigation was left to me we’d end up in the middle of nowhere huddled round a fire, fending off badgers with a fucking stick. We wanted to check out the highest point in Cornwall which is called… wait for it… Brown Willy. I’m not even shitting you. Shall I wait whilst you stop chuckling? And no, it’s not just what happens in toilets in gay bars, it was originally called Bronn Wennili which apparently means “Hill of Swallows.” There’s another cottaging joke in there somewhere…
Actually it turns out that once you’re at Rough Tor car park there’s not much navigating to be done if you don’t intend to stroll too far past Brown Willy. At 420 m.a.s.l. it won’t have you reaching for the Diamox and you can pretty much see everything you want to get to, but Tarrant does like an OS map and who am I do deny her the small pleasures in life? And anyway, the longer she spends staring at a map, the longer the cookies would be left unattended.
The easiest way to the top of Rough Tor, Cornwall’s second highest point, is to walk around to the left between that tor and Showery Tor, but nope. We wanted to go around the other way for reasons that currently evade me which led to us strolling past bewildered looking sheep and clambering through ferns and over rocks for a spot of inadvertent bouldering. This was not part of the deal now, was it. We got there though, rewarded ourselves with sugar then carried on towards Brown Willy which is pretty much a straight line.
Eventually you get to a gate which advises you that the land is privately owned but the dude kindly allows access as long as you’re not a dick about it and don’t terrorise the cows. Not that cows are easily terrorised. They’re very fucking starey are cows. As soon as you enter the field they all turn and glare at you like you just walked into their local pub and asked for directions to the nearest steak house. It’s more than slightly un-nerving, they look like they’re trying to crush your skull with the power of their minds but they keep getting distracted by grass or some shit. Jedi bovine. But the bad kind. The skull crushing kind. Do Jedis crush skulls or am I confusing them with steamrollers? Anyway.
Clearly there’s an incline involved because, whilst it’s not exactly Everest, it’s still a hill. We were knackered and we couldn’t even blame thin air. It doesn’t matter how many hills we walk up it never gets any easier, but I’ll keep on walking up hills on account of the views. I fucking love a good view. Sandwiches were consumed atop said hill whilst looking over the moor then we headed back, carefully avoiding any unnecessary scrambling.
Ok, so, I’d decided that I really really wanted to make elder flower cordial whilst we were away though I have no idea why because I don’t even fucking drink cordial but I had my little heart set on it which meant we had to go and look for elder trees, which are kinda more like shrubs than trees if we’re going to be pedantic little fuckers. Tarrant Googled what they looked like and off we went to St Clether because, according to the fabulous iWalk Cornwall, there were elder trees in the vicinity. I wanted to use this recipe, but halved, so we’d only need 15 of the flower umbrella thingys. Should be pretty easy, right? I mean… right?
What everyone fails to mention is that every single bastard tree is guarded by gorse bushes or thistles or brambles making harvesting them some manner of extreme countryside sport. We followed the walking instructions for a short while until we came to a waterfall. I fucking love waterfalls, me. Love looking at them, swimming in them, sticking my gross feet in them. But that would be later. Right now we needed elder flowers that wouldn’t involve the sacrifice of several layers of skin and flesh because there’s no way to explain that you got a scar collecting flowers and retain any shred of credibility you might have left. Not unless the scar was bad enough to pass off as a shark bite but I didn’t want cordial that badly. If you do want to harvest elder flowers, eventually you get to a couple of fields after the waterfall where you can deviate from the instructions and go hunting. Tarrant risked life and limb on rocky, unstable ground to get the 15 umbrellas we needed. She was like my harvest hero. I should get her a medal.
After a quick stop by the waterfall to cool off, we’d decided to swing by Jamaica Inn which loads of folks raved about but actually has more of a chain pub feel to it and the food was average. I mean, it wasn’t bad by any means. Certainly nothing to complain about. It was just standard, basic pub grub. I think Brighton has spoiled me with the food and working at the pub I work at has certainly spoiled me and I have the extra chins and a gut you could insulate Siberia with to prove it. They also decided to light the fire right next to us as we were eating despite it being hot enough to fucking melt your face in here already because they wanted to take a photo of it.
Later that night, as we sipped a bottle Spingo ale and I prepared the elder flowers and various other shit for their steeping (this is probably the first time in my 33 years I have ever steeped anything), Tarrant’s gaze wandered above my head.
“Babe?” she said.
“Yes?” I replied as I covered the pan and tucked the towel securely underneath so things with a penchant for sugar couldn’t get to my cordial.
“Are they elderflowers?”
I looked up. And yes. Yes they fucking were. In fact, there were about eleven elder trees around the campsite within such easy reach that a child with no arms could harvest them. And that, kids, is why you should always Google before you set out on a walk which will involve picking flowers.
Bodmin Moor, Cornwall, England
Stayed at: Acorn Camping & Glamping