Camelford situated on the edge of Bodmin Moor, is one of the highest towns in England at 700 ft above sea level. The Camel decorating the weathervane on the town hall is a little misleading, as the town's name is probably derived from the Cornish for a curved river, 'Cam Pol'. But then many say this is the Camelot of Arthurian fame and, indeed, there are many connections to 'Arthur' in the vicinity. Slaughterbridge, where legend has it that the armies of King Arthur battled with those of his nephew Mordred in 542AD, and, of course, King Arthur's Castle at Tintagel.Camelford was established as an important river crossing on the old route from Launceston to Wadbridge, it was made a free borough in 1259 and, in 1552, Edward VI bestowed on Camelford the right to send two members to Parliament, a practice which continued until the the early 1800's.
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The town sits astride the main A39 which narrows considerably to pass between the grey slate buildings of the main street. For many years, the residents have suffered the nuisance of traffic that has grown in size and volume out of all proportion to the narrow road that carries it through this old town. Camelford is, at last, to get a bypass, which, when completed, will no doubt speed traffic on its way along the Atlantic Highway and do much to heighten visitor appreciation of this small and ancient town.
Camelford is an excellent base from which
to explore the northern half of Bodmin Moor. There is a superb and picturesque riverside walk starting from a passage through an archway in the centre of the town. Walking by the river is a delight at any time of year (wellingtons advisable ... and don't forget your camera!), some two miles along the path going south is St Adwenna, the fourteenth century parish Church of Advent.
The highest points on Bodmin Moor, Brown Willy 1,375ft and Rough Tor 1,312ft can be reached by taking the A39 out of the town towards Bude, just over the bridge and a little way up the hill, Jubilee Road is signposted to Rough Tor. In the main holiday season, the Visitor information Centre which is part of the North Cornwall Museum and Gallery, situated just off the main street in a converted coach-house, will provide further information on the area and Bodmin Moor.
Camelford has great potential to become the recognised base from which to discover the many facets of the northern part of Bodmin Moor. For those with Arthurian interests, the area is an excellent starting place for a quest of discovery; observe how history and legend have intermingled with the passing of the centuries.