Located in the heart of Cornwall, the historic town of Bodmin and its surroundings have lots to offer intrepid visitors fascinated by Cornish legend. It's the place to hunt down the mysterious beast of Bodmin Moor, do some time at the gruesome Bodmin Jail and search out the seven holy wells dotted around the town.
It’s not all historical intrigue in this beautiful area, however. On the doorstep of the spectacular Bodmin Moor and beautiful Tamar Valley Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, you have miles upon miles of walking and cycling trails at hand. Why not follow one of the most popular cycling trails, the Camel River Trail, which meanders from Bodmin moor across to Padstow, taking in Wadebridge on the way. When at Padstow you'll be just 16 miles from the beautiful North Devon coast and 15 miles from the enchanting Polperro Heritage coastline to the south.
Have a read on to see why your next holiday should be in the beautiful Bodmin.
Skip to section:
The Night Sky
Food and drink
About the town:
Steeped in history, Bodmin will charm you in with its tranquil ambience and striking granite buildings - a reflection of the town's mining past and status as a former county town. Though famous for its jail and courtroom, there are many other places of interest peppered through the streets of Bodmin such as the magnificent 15th-century church of St Petroc and various fascinating heritage museums.
A vibrant high street is the hub of the town, with many shops, eateries and galleries, perfect for a day of browsing while searching for the seven holy wells dotted around the town. Visited by devotees many years ago in search of good health and spiritual omens, perhaps you could ask a favour or two of your own when you come across one! On sunny days, pack a picnic and head up to Bodmin Beacon above the town. A stunning nature reserve with wonderful views, it is watched over by a 144-foot tall obelisk in memory of 19th-century military commander, Sir Walter Raleigh Gilbert.
The site of the Cornish Rebellion back in 1497 where over 15,000 Cornishmen marched to London, the town has also seen many other uprisings. In 1549 Bodmin found itself at the centre of the Prayer Book Rebellion and it was also the location where the pretender to the English throne, Perkin Warbeck, was proclaimed as King Richard IV. The jail and old county courtroom give a glimpse into times past and the area's tin mining history is evident in the architecture featured all around the town and surrounding countryside.
Though famous for its mythical beast and its beautiful wild landscape, the rugged Bodmin Moor was brought to life in recent years by the TV series, Poldark. Exterior shots of Ross Poldark's cottage, Nampara, were filmed here as well as various moody shots of the sweeping moorland: the perfect backdrop for this plot of passion and intrigue.
The great outdoors:
Situated in one of the most beautiful parts of the country, Bodmin is a walker's dream. Just 5 miles from the edge of Bodmin Moor, there are over 200 square kilometres of granite moorland, grassland and heather wilds to discover. The largest section of the Cornwall AONB, you will wind around hidden valleys with their ancient oak trees and granite outcrops dominated by huge boulders, offering many a photo opportunity.
Discover the twists and turns of this remote moor and climb up Rough Tor and the highest point in the area, Brown Willy. The wildlife is outstanding - home to a myriad of plants and rare, protected wildlife such as otters, songbirds and the Marsh Fritillary butterflies, there are some ancient stones to discover, including The The Hurlers Stone Circles, possibly the best example of ceremonial circles in the south-west, and The Cheesewring, a granite tor situated on the eastern flank of Bodmin Moor.
Walk or cycle one of the most popular recreational routes in the country, the Camel Trail, which will take you over miles of gorgeous Cornish landscape. Running along a disused railway line following the course of the Camel Estuary, it is on everybody's bucket list. Do the 22-mile round trip around the moors or head to the coast at Padstow where you can reward yourself with some tasty fish and chips at Rick Stein's famous restaurant.
Cardinham Woods also makes an excellent day out for all the family. Just 4 miles from the town, you can wind your way along the four marked trails, paddle in the river when the sun is out and watch over little ones having fun in the wooden play area. Keen historians should keep a lookout for the old lead and silver mine of Wheal Glynn as they walk around, and children can take part in a fun activity trail that brings the popular 'Highway Rat' to life. An easy access trail, it is pushchair-friendly. Finish by resting weary legs at the Woods Cafe, where you can chat about your day over one of their delicious home-made cakes and a pot of tea.
How about a walk with a furry friend in tow? We're not talking about the family dog, but one of the friendly alpacas at Moor View Alpacas who enjoy their days trekking up on Bodmin Moor. Traipse the moor for an hour whilst drinking in the marvellous sights, learning about the alpacas as you go. Become your alpaca's best friend by dipping into the bag of treats you are given and then finish the experience with a complimentary Cornish cream tea provided by the centre.
Take a peek into Cornish penal life at the gruesome Bodmin Jail, a historic former prison on the edge of the Moor. Built in 1779, it closed its doors nearly 150 years later in 1927 after seeing more than 50 public hangings, the last in 1909. Now mainly ruins, part of the jail is a tourist attraction, though not for the faint-hearted! Take a guided tour, watch a scary movie and then re-visit the jail with the resident medium. Those not easily spooked should take part in one of their After Dark experiences where you will be treated to a three-course meal followed by an exploration of the jail. You will then be put to work for the night behind bars, before leaving at 5 am, sleepy and no doubt looking forward to a comfortable bed back at your holiday cottage!
Museums are a favourite in Bodmin too, with Cornwall's Regimental Museum offering over 300 years of Cornish military life and Bodmin Town Museum (reopens April 2019), boasting some fascinating exhibitions. If you prefer a scenic landscape with your history, then pop along to the Palladian mansion of Pencarrow House and Gardens. Approached by a magnificent mile-long carriage drive, this 50-room mansion set in 50 acres of parkland brings history alive while retaining the air of a much-loved family home. Discover the lake and woodland as well as the formal gardens with its dazzling display of camellias and rhododendrons, then finish off with a scrumptious Cornish cream tea in the Tea Rooms.
The stunning Cornish landscape can also be taken in from aboard the Bodmin and Wenford Railway. Their cosy steam-heated coaches will take you through the excitement and nostalgia of steam travel, starting at Bodmin and running for six and a half miles, via four stations, to Boscarne Junction. Try to go when they have one of their special events on, such as Steam and Cream Trains (who wouldn't want a cream tea as they chug along?) and the Kids Go Free weekend events. You can even take the family dog, so hop aboard and enjoy the countryside from the comfort of a heritage steam train!
The night sky:
Bodmin Moor was awarded Dark Sky Landscape status by the International Dark Sky Association in 2017, in recognition of its exceptional dark skies: its commitment to reducing light pollution as well as promoting educational outreach. There are various excellent star-gazing spots all over the moor, with a large concentration on the north-west zone. Spot a sprinkling of stars at Colliford Lake Park, Crowdy Reservoir, Minions Heritage Centre and Siblyback Lake.
The food and drink:
Cornwall is known for its gastronomical delights – where better to go for a delicious Cornish pasty, an indulgent cream tea or some tasty ice cream? The area is also home to some great dining out options, with fresh local produce being at the heart of every menu. The welcoming Masons Arms is a traditional and friendly pub with a fantastic burger menu and authentic Caribbean food, and you simply can't leave without sampling some excellent local fish and chips at The Welcome Stranger.
Slightly further afield on the Moor, are a couple of restaurants that you won’t want to miss. Heskyn Mill Restaurant in Tideford is a family-run 18th-century corn mill which will tempt you in with its beautiful stone exterior. Enjoy generous portions of traditional Cornish tucker, with seafood from the nearby fishing port of Brixham being a speciality. This is definitely one for that post-walk lunch.
Without a doubt, one of the most famous places to satisfy your thirst after a long walk across the moors will be at the famous Jamaica Inn. Set in one of the most evocative areas of the county, this coaching house full of legend and intrigue in Bolventor, was immortalised in Daphne du Maurier's novel of the same name. Visitors have come here for over 300 years, so expect two different types of spirit when you visit! It's also home to the Smuggler's Museum, which houses some of the most important smuggling artefacts in the UK. With a theatre show and compelling tales of smuggling and piracy, you'll get more than just a glimpse into the history of this fascinating area.
From rustic barn conversions on the outskirts of the town to mews cottages up on Bodmin Moor, we have a great selection of properties ideal for touring the whole of Cornwall. With fabulous countryside views and easy access to a plethora of walking trails, including the famous Camel Trail, you will find something for however many guests you choose to bring, as well as a canine or two.
Slightly further afield, you can choose from a selection of coastal properties, from Padstow in the north to Fowey and Looe in the south and even the elegant town of Charlestown with its majestic tall ships. Boutique-style lodges for couples with hot tubs and fire pits make the perfect end to long days exploring, and stone-fronted quarry cottages sitting in spectacular scenic areas are the perfect location for that relaxing holiday that you have been promising yourself. Have a look at our portfolio of cottages in and around Bodmin to find the ideal holiday property for your holiday to Cornwall.
Discover more of Cornwall: