Twelve Men’s Moor
It’s easy to assume that the name ‘Twelve Men’s Moor‘ refers to the line of craggy tors that stretch down the middle of this part of Bodmin Moor. I’ve counted them many times and always end up at way over twelve but figured that they probably counted each tor differently back when it was named.
I couldn’t have been more wrong. The name is actually derived from the twelve men to whom the right to graze animals on the moor was granted by Launceston Priory. So whilst I had a lot of fun climbing up each of the ‘twelve men/tors’ it was for completely the wrong reason – there is no Climb the Twelve Men challenge! Or at least there hasn’t been up until now.
I’ve walked past/around/through it many times but never walked from end to end over the top. Cornwall has been baked by heat for the last few days, alternating with torrential thunderstorms so I wanted to get out onto the moor to enjoy the sunset – I have a vague recollection of reading that sunsets are really good after thunderstorms. I did two walks in two consecutive evenings, one starting at Sharp Tor and the other one starting at the end of the lane up from Berriowbridge:
A third option is to park at the end of the Bearah Tor Quarry track, roughly where the orange circle is on the far right of the second map. You can walk up to the quarry, skirt around the edge and onwards to Sharp Tor or Twelve Men’s Moor. Plot a route maps – Option 1 & Option 2.
Starting at Sharp Tor
The start from Sharp Tor is one of my favourite on Bodmin Moor, you can see the country side unfolding for miles and it really feels like you’re at the top of a mountain in the Pyrenees. With no plans to go abroad this year it was a feeling I was happy to hold on to.
I ate at the top of Sharp Tor and watched as the sun started it’s slow descent over Twelve Men’s Moor. The only downside was that flying ants had started swarming and the whole tor was covered in clouds of them. I managed to find a clear a spot right at the peak. With plenty of daylight left I decided to meander my way towards the next tor along to get a better view.
The sunset wasn’t quite the spectacular display of colours I was expecting but in a way this was more special, I’ve seen plenty of colourful sunsets but not many where you can directly see it shining from behind a bank of clouds.
I returned back via Sharp Tor though the mist was rising and it was rapidly getting dark.
Starting near Berriowbridge – Climb the Twelve Men challenge!
After walking from Sharp Tor the previous evening the next obvious choice was to walk the Twelve Men’s Moor link of tors. I parked at the end of the lane near Berriow Bridge. A word of warning to drive slowly, the road makers must have decided it was easier to tarmac over the granite boulders as the road has more bumps than a perfectly baked Yorkshire Pudding.
I once again ate from the top of the first tor as the sun started setting. Interestingly I also found a huge pile of dead… flying ants on the windward side of a boulder – the side facing towards where they were swarming at Sharp Tor the previous evening. Poor things didn’t get very far.
The real challenge began after eating as I still hadn’t realised the real reason for the name ‘Twelve Men’s Moor’ and so resolved myself to climbing up every boulder pinnacle I could.
The only exception was the highest point of Kilmar Tor, it looked a bit too unsteady to be clambering around on and the best view was of the incredible angle from the ground. I found it a lot more impressive than the nearby Cheesewring.
Bronze age hut circles are scattered around Bodmin Moor, and Trewortha farm is situated near the remains of an old settlement. I have a memory of visiting it a long time ago when I was in primary school, the farm had rebuilt the hut circles and schools went to learn about the bronze age and wave swords around. Nowadays it looks like the hut circles have once again fallen down, I think you can spot the remains just to the below and right of the farm.