Visit the highest peak in Cornwall and explore the surrounding moors with this amazing walk around Rough Tor, Little Rough Tor and to the top of Brown Willy. This is an adventure for the whole family with loads of amazing views, rocks to climb and wildlife to experience. It’s a great family fun day out.
Within this article, I’m going to share our experiences of this beautiful walk with our kids and point out a few helpful tips so that you can be prepared and get the most out of your visit. We visited during the summer (August) so it was at the height of the holiday season. Our kids are aged 7 and 10 so it’s always interesting to see how they get on during our slightly longer walks.
Table of contents
Terrain and length
The overall length of this walk is about 5 miles (8 kilometres), roughly between 10400 – 13000 steps. The terrain is mostly grassland with rocky sections around Rough Tor. We completed the walk in just under 3 hours.
The ground can be a little mashy even in the summer so it’s a good idea to wear walking shoes/boots. There are some slightly steep sections as you approach the peaks but most of the other sections of the walk are moderate and easily walked by most.
Parking near Rough Tor
The best parking location for this walk can be found at the end of Roughtor Road which branches off from the north-east side of Camelford. There were plenty of parking spaces available when we arrive (at 11:00) but when we returned (15:00) the car park was almost full. There’s enough space for about 30 cars in the car park and some parking on the road just before. There’s also some slightly larger bays suitable for medium sized motorhomes.
We arrived at the Rough Tor car park just before midday and decided to eat our packed lunch in the van before we set off. Fuel for the hike! We also took a few snacks to enjoy when we reached the summit of Brown Willy. Snacks are also a good incentive for the kids when their energy levels drop.
The first section of the walk – Car park to Rough Tor peak
As we walked down the hill from the car park we reached a small stone bridge crossing a stream. It was a beautiful little spot to cross before starting the accent towards the Rough Tor peaks.
You can choose from a number of different paths to the summit of Rough Tor but we decided to take the most direct route. This took roughly 25 minutes.
We took a couple of quick breaks on the way up to let the kids little legs rest.
Rough Tor peak – 400m
This was our favourite part of the walk. The summit of both Rough Tor and little Rough Tor are scattered with large granite boulders and rocks which have weathered in quite an interesting pattern to form amazing sculptures like monuments.
The kids loved climbing on and around the rock formations. It made for an amazing game of hide and seek. There was even a section that looked like a tunnel. From the highest point the views around the surrounding valleys were fantastic. It was great fun for everyone.
Rough Tor to Brown Willy
The second part of our walk took us down the hill towards Brown Willy. Rather than take the main path we decided to take a more direct route towards Brown Willy. This was more exciting as we had to navigate some boulders and rocks to reach some open ground. We headed the hill towards the visible path at the bottom of the valley.
The peak of Brown Willy looks quite far in these pictures but in real life, it looked much closer. It took us about 35 minutes to get to the top from Rough Tor. During this stretch, we encountered some wild ponies and grazing cows which I’ll show you in more detail later.
It didn’t take long before we reached the bottom and began our accent towards the highest point in Cornwall. 420m above sea level.
We found some interesting rocks to climb over during our walk to the summit. The kids were beginning to show signs of tiredness so keeping them entertained along the way was important.
We finally reached the top of Brown Willy. It was very windy up here but stayed for a few minutes to enjoy the views and enjoy a quick snack.
We each added a small rock to the summit and headed back down the hill towards Rough Tor. In the same direction we arrived from.
Our final destination on this walk was Showery Tor. It took another 35 minutes to reach this point but it was well worth the wait. The rock formations again were stunning and it gave the kids another incentive to carry on. This time we decided to follow the main path back as it was a little easier than scrambling over the marshes and rocks.
More spectacular panoramic views around the Bodmin Moors.
This was the final part of the walk. The kids had done well but were now a little tired. We decided to head straight back to the van from this point. It is however recommended to see the prehistoric settlements overlooking the Fernacre stone circle. Unfortunately, we missed this part but the view from a distance looked great.
Wildlife on and around Brown Willy
Brown Willy is sited on Bodmin Moor so there were bound to be animals roaming the fields and marshes. During our walk, we encountered a variety of wildlife, including grazing cattle, wild ponies with their young and a number of different bird species.
We got up close and personal with some of the grazing cattle on our way up to Brown Willy. It was a little intimidating as the bull didn’t look too impressed with our presence. We moved by quickly and quietly so as not to disturb him!
Hopefully, this post has given you some insight into this amazing walk. Fit adults will be able to complete the walk in about 2 hours but you’ll definitely want to stop and take in the views which will add on a fair bit of time. Younger ones will manage and love this walk but expect them to be tired by the end.
Bringing your dog
You can bring your dog on this walk but if you are visiting between 1st March and 31st July you will need to keep them on a lead due to the breeding season for ground-nesting birds. Beware of two stiles on the route which you will need to lift your dog(s) over. There are grazing animals so if your dog is particularly good with other animals it might be best to keep them on a lead.
There are some amazing places to stop during the walk where you can enjoy a snack or a picnic but beware of strong winds near the summits. It might be wise to find sheltered locations for a comfortable meal. Always respect nature by taking all your rubbish with you.
Be prepared for a bit of mud and marshy ground on this walk. We didn’t encounter much in the summer but we’ve been told it can get quite boggy in places. Walking boots or shoes are ideal or if you have comfortable wellies these would be ideal in the wetter months.
The best bits
The best bits of this walk:
- Granite rock formations at the top of Rough Tor, Little Rough Tor and Showery Tor
- The grazing cattle and wild ponies
- Spectacular panoramic views to north Cornwall and the Chine cLay pits of St Austell.
- Cairns stone circles and prehistoric settlement
- The highest point in Cornwall – Brown Willy