Country diary: among the ancient stone of Bodmin, hawthorn spreads like snow


Cheesewring, Bodmin Moor: Jackdaws and this year’s first few calves mingle with the remnants of thriving industry

Up on the eastern edge of Bodmin Moor, effulgent hawthorn blossom draws attention from the bumps and the hollows of early mineral workings, and the tool-marked edges of surface stone that used to be cut for use locally and further afield. Full-out white and budding flowers now cover the tangled twigs; winter-blasted gorse sprouts new shoots; bracken unfurls from the pale turf starred with yellow tormentil, and the exposed granite of boulders and old boundary walls sparkle beneath the azure sky.

From the village of Minions, visitors venture towards the stone circles of the famous Hurlers, overlooked by prehistoric Stowe’s Pound with its group of precipitously balanced tors, and the Cheesewring, another tor precarious above the quarry face. Away from the busy car park, a quiet path follows the glint of granite setts on the trackbed of the old mineral railway that transported ores and stone downhill towards Liskeard and the port of Looe. Below this way, jackdaws clack about the ruins of the engine house, built in 1907 for the last of the big Cornish pumping engines. Apart from sterile burrows of mine waste, hawthorn spreads here like snow.

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