I haven’t visited all the Tors of the Moor yet, but of those I have seen, Kilmar is a good un. Others, like Leskernick and Garrow, feel more important in the historical sense, but Kilmar has a real weight of place, a sense of power and nobility that belies it’relatively minor stature. It is a measly 396 metres high, with a prominence over 100 metres, which actually classifies it, rather ignobly in my opinion, as a ‘HuMP’. It is also, after Brown Willy and Rough, the third-highest Tor – and thus piece of land – in Kernow.
Despite this official status, Kilmar possesses something unusual in southern England.
I have been lucky enough to look on some impressive mountains, Siniolchu and Kanchenjunga (which at 8,586m is somewhat larger than Kilmar) in Sikkim or Mount Patriarch, Aoraki and Taranaki in NZ and they all have two things in common, the first being that they call you to them, daring you to try your luck in reaching for their summits (a call I don’t often heed) and the other is they have changeable faces and moods.
So then does Kilmar, admittedly on a much lesser scale. If you near it from the north over East Moor in Winter it rears up monstrously, dominating everything, a hulking breaking wave of granite. I don’t have a good picture of this because sometimes photographs do not do such things justice, or at least my photographic skill and equipment don’t. If you don’t want to take my word for it, read ‘Bodmin Moor‘ by E.C. Axford, by far and away the best book I’ve read on the place, or better yet, go. Like many of the tors on the Cornish moor, its actual height is overpowered and distorted by its presence in the landscape and it changes its moods throughout the seasons and conditions.
From the south, across Langstone Down from Henwood and Sharptor it is a much meeker sight, not much more impressive than the tiny neighbouring Bearah. Still though, it has something about it, the first time I saw it from Sharp I was drawn across the moor towards it. It is a strange tor in shape, running from east to west in a large crest that is quite fun and relatively easy to traverse. It always reminds me of the backbone of some titanic creature. It also has strewn about it the curious marks of the last centuries of industrious Tin mining that rapidly sprung up here and all around the village of Minions in the 1800s, granite lined tramways and hewn rocks with masonry marks.
This post is mainly an excuse to write about a place I am beginning to miss. The moors are my go-to empty place, and I do visit quite regularly I realise. The current lockdown is inhibiting that somewhat, although really I feel I should get away with it as social isolation is my sole reason for fucking going.
Incidentally, the moor in winter, when these pictures were taken, holds a great treat for the tor walker. It is a special experience to be in an empty, ancient place when the watery light dims and the air becomes suddenly thick with wing thrum. To watch starlings shimmer and shoal in the air, all moving to each other and some unknowable beat is one of the great sights of life.