I hadn’t planned on coming here really, I just caught a glimpse of it from the A390 on a sunny but cold Saturday in April and felt the pull as it is a small part of my own history.
Helman Tor is an out-of-place segment of moorland in the midst of the green pasture and agriculture of Mid-Cornwall. Buffered by the Clay to the west and rising out – and forming the start – of the mysterious and dark Luxulyan Valley.
Helman Tor was once a Neolithic community, a tor enclosure, you can still see the remnants of this.
The enterprising, master stone workers created a semi-organic architecture, bulding dry-stone walls that weave into and around the existing weathered granite outcrops (that look almost artificial themselves).
Helman is old, it feels old but it is also popular. There are always people here. It’s a good walk, easy, light with excellent views East to the real moors, west to the Clay, south to Fowey and North to Wadebridge.
The hobbled hawthorn and stunted grass of a moor, in the distance is the Clay. Clay Country. A world unto itself in Cornwall. These heaps loomed over my hometown, my primary school even- always brooding, breeding rain and mist. If the gutted engine houses of Cornwall are the gravestones of industry then these are the burial mounds.
Before the Cornish turned their attention, at the initiative of one William Cookworthy, to mining the Kaolin present within the granite, that area would have looked alot like Helman Tor, alot like Bodmin Moor and West Penwith. One of the four granite knuckles of the Cornubian Batholith.
There is actually a very rare and beautiful type of granite to be found in this modest little area. Inventively named Luxullianite, it is very dark with a pinky-orange mottle.
Tis rather sought after and comprises the Duke of Wellington’s monument in St. Paul’s Cathedral indeed.
If you, rather understandably, think appreciating rocks is perhaps a strange thing I urge you to watch this and reconsider (no mysticism I promise).