Cornubian Batholith isn’t a term that rolls off the tongue very easily, and I wouldn’t blame you if you decided to walk away from this article right now, but if you bear with me for a minute, it might help to explain why the South-West peninsula looks the way it does.
For all of us non-geologists it refers to the granite outcrops that sporadically thrust their way up onto the Devon and Cornwall landscape – places like Dartmoor, Hensbarrow Downs, Carn Brea, Penwith, the Isles of Scilly – and Bodmin Moor.
This granite terrain has been responsible for most of the minerals that have been mined in Devon and Cornwall for centuries, but Bodmin Moor doesn’t bear the scars in the same way as the Downs above St Austell have for example.
It would be easy to think of Bodmin Moor as a smaller version of Dartmoor as there are so many similarities: Tors, Bronze Age remains, and old mines are features of both moors – and if Dartmoor has the legend of the Hound of the Baskervilles, then Bodmin can boast its own panther-like beast which captured the public’s imagination in the late 1970s.
I know it’s stating the obvious, but Bodmin Moor is in Cornwall, and at less than a quarter of the size of its northern neighbour, can also feel quite different. This is King Arthur country, and Dozmary Pool is associated with Excalibur and the Lady of the Lake, and even though the legends of King Arthur may be stretching the truth a bit, I’m not convinced that Daphne du Maurier’s tale about Jamaica Inn is too far from the truth.
The A30 trunk road runs near to the Jamaica Inn and I suppose the view across the northern part of the moor towards Brown Willy and Rough Tor, Cornwall’s two highest points, is the one that most people will remember.
As with most moorland areas, it can be quite boggy, and rivers like the Camel and Fowey have their sources here. Much of this water has been harnessed to form Colliford Reservoir, Cornwall’s largest inland lake, but if you don’t like getting your feet wet, then you may prefer to explore some of the wealth of interesting features that lie around the moor’s perimeter.
One of my favourite areas is around the village of Minions. The Hurlers, Long Tom, The Cheesewring, and Daniel Gumb’s Cave can all be found around here, but I’ve still yet to come across any of those little creatures who have existed since the beginning of time – but who knows? Perhaps they’re still out there somewhere lurking amongst the Cornubian Batholith.