I Can See For Miles
With lock down easing and Cornwall finally receiving visitors frantically heading for our beautiful coastline, we felt an inland wander would be less crowded for our next wild walk. We are sympathetic to all visitors heading for the beach after weeks of Covid uncertainty, we are lucky enough to enjoy the luxury of living in our wonderful Cornwall all year round and are happy to leave the coast to the holidaymakers for their annual dose of paradise.
We have been basking in endless, gloriously scorchio days with temperatures up to 20 degrees, but heat makes you lazy (or is it just me?). I can happily sit in the sun with a good book all day, but mention a walk in similar temperatures and I would run for the hills if it didn’t involve even more strenuous exercise than actually walking. Luckily we have Button to consider and I didn’t take much persuading when Sandie suggested a short evening walk at nearby Carloggas Downs.
Carloggas is situated on the edge of Stenalees, a small clay village just a 5 minute drive from St. Austell; we drove up on the A391 Carluddon Road - officially opened in 2015 locals still refer to it as the New Road. Driving via this route takes us briefly up close and personal to the famous Sky Tip; variously known as the Great Treverbyn Tip or Carluddon Tip, locals have embraced the towering mountain as an important part of our Cornish mining history. This glorious Cornish Alp rises majestically over the Clays and St. Austell Bay, with Baner Peran (St. Piran’s Flag) flying proudly from the summit. The tip itself stands at a little under 164 feet high, dates back to 1936 and is made up of mining waste which resulted from the back breaking work of ‘winning the clay’. Undisturbed for years, the Sky Tip made global news when it was threatened with destruction to make way for an ‘eco town’ in the area. Locals were vociferous in their battle to retain the much loved iconic landmark, signing online petitions and bringing the weight of the national media on board to highlight the plans for further desecration of our Cornish heritage. People power finally won the day and our beloved Sky Tip remains to watch over us. During the battle to keep the landmark Unesco were petitioned to bestow their protection by declaring the tip a World Heritage Site, this decision could take anything up to 10 years and, as far as I’m aware, we are still waiting to hear the outcome.
Sky Tip made national news again very recently when local heroes climbed to the top and installed the Baner Peran, which was quickly removed by Imerys due to ‘health and safety’ concerns. This has been an ongoing bone of contention for Imerys as the flag has appeared overnight on numerous occasions with our unknown night time flag bearers hanging it Heath Robinson style using bits of wood, metal, rope and (probably) some sticky back plastic. In June 2020 Imerys finally relented and officially installed the flag themselves, adhering to H&S guidelines and keeping locals happy.
Driving down the hill towards Stenalees the Single Rose Roundabout comes into view, just before we reach the roundabout we turn off to the right bringing us to the lower Carloggas car park. Parking is free and there is plenty of room, but for the less able there is another car park at the top of the access road which is also free. Following the Covid guidelines, Sandie and I continue to travel separately and I have a joyous reunion with Button who can’t decide between nipping my ankles or knocking me over, in the end he manages both. Noisy greetings out of the way he begins exploring new territory, as we’re heading up to moorland there are all manner of overwhelming smells for his doggy nose with plenty of evidence of rabbits, hedgehogs and foxes. Carloggas Downs are a wild expanse of moorland, but Button remains on his lead - dog owners will agree there is nothing worse than driving your dog home after he’s indulged in a good old roll in fox poo. Firmly attached to his mum our excitable furry companion can smell whatever he likes, but rolling in poo is not an option.
The Downs are just over 520 feet above sea level and best enjoyed on clear days like today, on dreary days when Cornish mizzle covers the area visibility drops down to zero. The walk from the car park takes a couple of minutes and the view when we step out into the open at the top is stunning, a 360 degree panorama takes in our beloved Gribben and St. Austell Bay, clay villages and hamlets galore, the nearby Sky Tip, disused quarries, Rough Tor, Kit Hill, Brown Willy and beyond. The Downs were landscaped by Imerys on the detritus that remained of the Single Rose tip; during its day the tip was fed by Penhale, Wheal Martyn and Gunheath pits. The landscaping includes man made stone circles, one of which has a longstone at the centre; there is no information regarding the age of the stones, so I have no idea whether they were extracted from the pit or imported in from elsewhere. The original landscaping has now matured into a peaceful wildlife habitat of heather and gorse and is alive with birdsong, butterflies and bees.
Despite weeks of sunshine, Button has managed to find a puddle and is knee deep in mucky water when he realises that a family of playful dogs are off their leads and showing an interest in the new kid on the block. Button loves his weekly trip to a local doggy day care where he meets and makes new pals, but he remains nervous of meeting packs of strange dogs and immediately tucks himself safely out of the way behind Sandie. The dogs are friendly, but soon lose interest in us and wander back to their owner, tails up and noses to the ground.
With various paths to follow, we opt for a short circular route which takes us back to the car park. Somehow a couple of hours have flown by, admittedly we spent more time chatting and soaking up the view than we spent walking, but gazing at the wonders of Kernow is time well spent in our book.
A different route from St. Austell to Carloggas is via the B3274 which would have taken us past the Wheal Martyn Museum and Country Park; one of my favourite local visitor centres. Wheal Martyn is once again welcoming visitors and I highly recommend the museum to anyone interested in our Clay history. The museum staff are knowledgeable, warm and friendly and have worked hard to ensure that our post Covid experience is just as enjoyable as before with added safety measures and social distancing in place. Most of the museum is outdoors, including a bird’s eye view of a modern day working pit which fascinates all ages. One of the many attractions of Wheal Martyn is the cafe, all the food is freshly made on the premises and is scrummy. The cafe is a bright and cheerful meeting place, but during the current restrictions visitors are asked to eat outside the cafe on the spacious seated terrace. No hardship to sit outside on a sunny day with the gardens and wildlife for company as you tuck in to your home made pasty or cream tea (jam first)! Although Wheal Martyn is open and fully functioning please book your museum visit via their website - www.wheal-martyn.com Booking to visit the cafe is not required, just pop along and enjoy.
Carloggas is perfect for all abilities, once at the top you can walk or simply sit and soak up the views. For those with walking difficulties I recommend driving to the car park at the top of the lane, it isn’t a long walk from the bottom car park, but it is very stony and rough underfoot.
GETTING THERE Postcode – PL26 8UP Carloggas is easily accessible from all directions in Cornwall, aim for the Single Rose Roundabout at Stenalees. Parking for access to Carloggas is clearly marked less than a minute from the roundabout next to the entrance for Viridor.
From the A30 exit at Roche Victoria take B3274 From St. Austell take either B3274 via Wheal Martyn Museum or A391 (commonly known as the New Road!) which takes you directly past the famous Sky Tip landmark Regular train service to St. Austell
Regular bus service to Stenalees village
Special thanks to Dave Teague for information included regarding Carloggas and Single Rose.