Whilst hordes of holiday makers pour into Cornwall and spread themselves all over the beaches I head for the hills. This is my second visit to Leskernick...and this time I know what i'm looking for.
I approach from Bolventor by taking the road to Codda and then following the footpath out onto the moor. As you go through the gate and out onto the hillside it is best to carry on straight ahead contouring around to Leskernick Farmhouse.
From there head up into the settlement, I wonder how many people lived up here?. The "quoit" is on the western side of the hill and after visiting that head back over the top and look down upon the settlement.
From here it is possible on a good day to spot both the stone circles and a path down through the huts leads to the northern one.
Once you have found this the stone row lies diagonally to the left towards the humps and bumps of early mining work.
The other stone circle lies just upslope to the right of the western end of the row.
The low squareish humps you will come across all over the hillside are peat stack bases known as steeds or ricks. I have never seen so many in a small area anywhere else on the moor.
This is a fascinating area, with lots of not very obvious ancient sites, and lots of sites and possible sites still being discovered.
I approached the whole Leskernick area from Westmoorgate (SX204804). At the very end of the road (next to the farm) there are 'no parking' signs everywhere so I respectfully returned 100m down the road and parked off the road just past two farm gates. The ‘foot path’ across the moor basically doesn’t exist, although there are several places where it is clear that people / animals / vehicles have gone. However, it’s not quite as bad as it sounds because you can take a rough bearing and you should get to the Leskernick area OK. You don’t need a huge degree of accuracy because once Leskernick Hill is in sight you then know approx where you are. Also I found that seeing anything from this flat land was very hard anyway. I would recommend either climbing Leskernick Hill or The Beacon (which is actually 40 metres higher, and a good way of not getting lost as you can follow the field walls all the way from Westmoorgate to the top if you wish) and getting an overview of the area.
Although the map shows lots of settlements on the hill there seems to be other ‘things’ dotted around the lowlands as well. I wasn’t sure if they were remains of houses, or bowl barrows, or some sort of enclosure. They seem to be a rectangle or circle with a small darky coloured ditch around it and no ‘hump’ in the middle nor stones around. The rectangular one was the same as the one on East Moor (approx SX223778), which I couldn’t work out what it was and whether it was the ‘enclosure ‘ marked on the map. There are also cairns & possible barrows dotted around that aren’t on the OS map.
The whole area between Leskernick Hill and The Beacon is like the surface of the moon (craters, gullies, marshes) and is a very harsh environment in many ways despite its green appearance. Although this side of the A30 is very different to East Moor on the other side (which is brown and strewn with gorse) these two places are the most inhospitable parts of the Cornish uplands that I have visited so far.
Also twice whilst on the lower slopes of Leskernick Hill (a long time before the cows came long!) I heard very strong noises of horses galloping / an army charging, but nothing could explain this. There were lots of ponies around but they were just standing around eating grass. Spooky.