Cornwall’s midriff is an absolute hive of heritage. While the coasts might draw the crowds, there’s a treasure trove of stories to be told in the area around Bodmin and Lostwithiel. Royalty past and present has made its mark here, and there’s barely a square mile untouched by a historic Cornish family or a Civil War battle.

The seat of the Robartes family from 1621, Lanhydrock was devastated by fire in 1881 and refurbished in high-Victorian style, with the best in country house design and planning and the latest mod-cons. It’s one of the most comprehensive examples of upstairs-downstairs life, with extensive kitchens contrasting with luxurious family areas.

This magnificent stately home and estate is managed by the National Trust. An entry fee applies to the house - The Long Gallery is currently undergoing major conservation, meaning visitors can climb up onto the scaffolding to see the original Jacobean ceiling (which survived the fire) in detail. Access to café, toilets and the wider estate, with its ancient woodlands and year-round colour, is free.

The front entrance view of the gatehouse at LanhydrockThe front entrance view of the gatehouse at Lanhydrock (Image: National Trust/John Millar)

The Duchy of Cornwall was established in 1337 by Edward III to fund the public, charitable and private activities of the Prince of Wales and his family. It isn’t limited to Cornwall, extending across 23 counties in England and Wales; but this area is arguably its heartland.

Built in the late 13th century, Restormel Castle (English Heritage) was a luxurious retreat for its medieval owners and was twice visited by Edward, the Black Prince – Edward III’s son and heir, and the first Duke of Cornwall. In 1644, it was a stronghold in the English Civil War when it was captured by Royalist Sir Richard Grenville. For an insight into this period, read The King’s General, a lesser-known but utterly gripping novel by the mistress of historical fiction, Daphne du Maurier.

The path to the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery follows the meandering River Fowey and passes the 500-year-old Restormel Manor, now holiday accommodation with extensive leisure facilties. It’s the official Cornish residence of the King and Queen when they visit the county, with interior design by Camilla’s sister, Annabel Elliot.

Restormal Castle looks spectacular from the airRestormal Castle looks spectacular from the air (Image: Getty)

Lostwithiel is proud of its status, dating back to the 12th century, as a stannary town where tin ingots were brought for weighing, assaying and stamping. Today it’s bustling with antiques shops and cafes. Until a bypass was built in 1939, the single-track packhorse bridge over the Fowey was the main road between Liskeard and St Austell - it’s hard to imagine 21st-century traffic thundering over it.

There is so much to commend this walk. It starts and ends at railway stations, so you don’t need to take the car – although we parked at Bodmin Parkway and took a five-minute train ride back from Lostwithiel. Not all trains stop at Losty, so check your timetable before setting off and moderate your walking speed accordingly. Of course, there is always the possibility of killing time pleasurably in, say, the Duchy Nursery cafe over a cream tea, or nosing around Lostwithiel.

It’s also extremely well signposted, connecting as it does two routes recommended by the National Trust and English Heritage; and there are several options for quality refreshments – including a vintage signalbox café at Bodmin Parkway station, and a horsebox en route to Lanhydrock. And if you have an entire summer’s day free, you can visit two major historic properties (plus Bodmin Parkway is the terminus for one of Cornwall’s prettiest steam railways).

Even the most industrial section of the walk is fascinating – Restormel water treatment works is Cornwall’s largest, serving around 60% of the county with its domestic supply. Remember that when you run yourself a relaxing bath after a lovely day out.

The front entrance view of the gatehouse at LanhydrockThe front entrance view of the gatehouse at Lanhydrock (Image: Getty)

The Walk

1. From Bodmin Parkway station, pass through a red gate clearly signposted towards Lanhydrock. Follow the lane under the railway bridge and over the River Fowey. It then bends left for a long stretch with the river and a beautiful meadow to your left.

2. Reach a T-junction with another lane. For a brief diversion, turn left here to find the popular beauty spot of Respryn, with its 15th-century granite bridge and plentiful wildlife; otherwise, cross the road and go straight on, through the gate into the Lanhydrock estate. Follow the lengthy driveway up to the gatehouse, from where you can turn left and head around the back for toilets and cafe facilities in the courtyard (free entry).

3. Facing the gatehouse, turn left and look for a red gate leading into the higher gardens. Ignore the lower path and continue uphill on a good track. Keep following the red arrows through the woodland, passing buildings to your right and heading downhill. Soon you will hear the babble of the River Fowey.

4. Where the path meets the river, you’ll see a red gate clearly marked ‘footpath to Restormel Castle’. Pass through this and walk through the water treatment works and onto Restormel Road. The castle comes into view.

The entrance to the keep at Restormal CastleThe entrance to the keep at Restormal Castle (Image: Getty)

5. When the lane veers right, carry straight on, passing through a gate marked ‘public footpath’ to reach Restormel Farm. Walk through the buildings and continue along the lane. To visit Restormel Castle, turn right here, looking out for the Restormel Oak, which took root in 1650.

6. Turn left through a red gate towards Restormel Manor. From here, the route is well-signposted in the direction of the Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, passing over the River Fowey and regularly punctuated by the sight of trains whizzing along the mainline. You’ll emerge directly opposite the nursery entrance – why not pop in for a spot of tea or shopping?

7. The most direct route to Lostwithiel from here is straight down the country lane – about a 25-minute walk, pleasant and not too busy. When you hit the A390, cross with care and take the cut-through directly opposite. At the T junction, turn right and you will see the level crossing right next to Lostwithiel station.


Distance: 5 miles

Time: 4 hours (including rest stops)

Map: OS Explorer 107 St Austell & Liskeard

Start: Bodmin Parkway railway station (parking available)

End: Lostwithiel railway station

WC: Bodmin Parkway railway station, Lanhydrock, Duchy of Cornwall Nursery, Lostwithiel