Upper Tamar Lakes

OS Explorer Map: 126
Start Ref: 288 117
End Ref: 288 117
Grading: Easy
Distance: 3 miles
Time: 2.5hrs

This walk in Cornwall actually takes us around the Upper Tamar Lake, which means that for some of the walk we are actually in that dark place across the border that is known as Devon. We will criss-cross thisancient border between Cornwall and England as it was set by King Athelstan (on the eastern bank of the river) in AD936, whilst onour circular walk, knowing that at the end we have a seasonal cafe to refresh ourselves.

The SW Lakes Trust have put in a circular walk, which is easily accessible for most people and for this walk we have the benefit of a hardcore track leading all the way around, and as it runs around the water’s edge, is relatively flat. For thisreason, although it is a longish walk it iseasier terrain.

Our walk startsin the pay and display car park of Upper Tamar Lakes. The reservoir itself is a feed for drinking water, so dogs need to be kept on a lead and there is no swimming allowed, although you can sail and fish here!

From the car park, we head down towards the water’sedge so that we can walk over the footway which takes us across the dam wall which holds back the water. As we cross over this footway, we cross from Cornwall into Devon, but unfortunately there is no sign to advertise this. The path turns left (north) as we reach solid ground and this leads us gently along the shoreline, before turning right (north east) and into what I would call a creek if I were out sailing. At the head of this creek, and on its northern shore, we find ourselves walking in the trees until it rejoins us with the main body of water. Again we head north for a short time, until another smaller `creek` appears, again with more trees to give us cover.

A view of the grassy shoreline of the river

As we turn back to our left we see a little marker, which very kindly informs us that we are now half way around the reservoir even though we have not yet reach its most northerly point.

As the path turns north again, there is an opening and a couple of wooden benches. From this point, we can see the full length of the reservoir, and across to the BirdHide on the opposite bank, and it is here that I would suggest we stop for a short picnic (if we have brought one along).

A view of Simon's walking gear on a bench, with the river in the background

Once our picnic is complete, we can now continue north and after a short distance the path will try to loop around to our left as it crosses over a wide wooden foot bridge.

Stop a while here, as the little river which is running under this footbridge is the Tamar. This little river will not only fill this reservoir, but the Lower Reservoir as well before flowing on to the south coast and meeting the Tavy and then the sea.

Once on this bridge, we step out of Devon and back into the safety ofCornwall.

The footbridge in the foreground with trees and the river behind

We are now heading south, and are on the downward leg of our walk, as the footpath continues to follow the water’s edge past numerous fishing posts, and on towards the Bude Gig Club boats.Shortly after these, the path splits left and right, and we are asked to follow the path around and up the slope to the right, which we shall do. This takes us above the sailing club, and stops us from being in their way when they are launching. It is a short detour, and leads us along the lower edge of the hook up camping spot, and then back to the car park.

Although our walk is now finished, I would suggest a photo opportunity before driving off too far. As we come to the end of the access road, we can turn left or right (right being back to Kilkhampton). If you turn left, you will find the New Bridge, which spans the River Tamar, and therefore the boundary between ancient Cornwall and England (and still the Unitary Boundary). Here there is a sign, on the eastern side, welcoming you to Devon. Walk past this sign and then turn around, and you will have the Cornwall Kernow sign to welcome you back. Stop and take a photo, it makes a great screen saver.