Bodmin is the first town you come to on your way into Cornwall, whether staying in Bodmin or near by or mearly passing through it is worth a couple of hours of your time.
The shopping in Bodmin is limited but does have a main street that is host to local craft shops and local food and drinking holes as well as the usual high street names. There are two central car parks that take you right into the middle of the town centre.
At the end of the high street at one end you will find Mount Folly and Bodmin's tourist information office, a good place to start to discover what attractions Bodmin has to offer.
Within the shirehall there is the court room experience and cells which is worth a visit. Up the road from the centre you will find the DCLI military museum which is a very interesting attraction and just accross the road from that you will find the Bodmin and Wenford Steam railway, steam trains that go on a journey closs to Bodmin Parkway. Bodmin and Wenford railway is often host to Thomas the tank engine, fantastic for children. There is also Bodmin Jail which is the actual jail that was once used in Bodmin.
This town has plenty to offer, many of which people would not expect.
This year i went on holiday, down south to the beautiful county of Cornwall. We had done lots of research into different places to stay in Cornwall but in the end decided on a little town called Bodmin. Because it was central to a lot of main attractions we had planned to visit.
With myself, my partner, my partners dad and our two daughters in tow, we set off, and after a 5 hour journey arrived in Bodmin. Our first initial reaction was how quite and peaceful the town was, we drove around for ten minutes and noted how it was your simple run of the mill town, with a few major shops, banks, cafes, pubs and restaurant.
What did catch our eye was the huge church that took pride of place in the middle of the town, This is called St Petroc's church, and we later found out that it is the largest parish church in Cornwall, and was built between 1469-1472. But as it was getting late we decided to retreat to our holiday park we where booked into just outside of Bodmin and call it night, after all we did have two weeks to explore what else Bodmin and other surrounding areas had to offer.
During the next two weeks we visited all the places that makes Bodmin such a special yet a unique and historical town, we visited 'Bodmin jail' that has very dark and sinister past which has made it popular with tourists and ghost-hunters alike. It was built in 1776 and is a huge ominous and foreboding stone building being the first jail to hold inmates in individual cells and famously carried out grisly public executions by hanging until 1862, 55 in total! It finally closed it's doors in 1927 since then has become a popular tourist attraction with fascinating exhibitions telling of the 150 years of torture and punishment which took place in this dark and mysterious place. Plus the Domesday book was held here.
Bodmin moor is another widely famous attraction, first farmed over 4000 years ago and is the last of the great unspoilt areas in the South West and much of its prehistoric and medieval past remains untouched by the passing of the centuries. It is mainly dominated by dramatic granite tors which tower over the sweeping expanses of open moorland, Historically, Bodmin Moor was a landscape which engendered fear and awe, but which has also provided inspiration for writers, poets and sculptors. It has generated folklore and legend, with fact and fiction at times blending into one another as tales were passed down over the generations, one of those being about the 'beast of bodmin'.
This is a hit with walkers and hikers, as although being a small moor only covering 10miles by 10miles, there is plenty to see.
Another attraction that we found fascinating, that i wanted to mention was the 'Bodmin and Wenford railway' Cornwall's only standard gauge railway still operated by steam locomotives, they do wonderful 13 mile day trips though some beautiful Cornish scenery, and first opened back in 1834. The trains are beautiful, and do cost a lot to run, thats why they have set up a 'Cornish Steam Locomotive Preservation Society' to help keep and preserve the trains, which also gives members of the public a chance to donate as well.
The main station is located in Bodmin, this is where the engine sheds are, there is also a souvenir shop and a small cafe offering refreshments for before and after your journey.
The Bodmin town museum, plays host to some very interesting local history regarding Bodmin, using photographs, text and artefact's, in displays showing rocks and minerals, WWI and WWII showcases, model forge, agricultural implements, a Cornish kitchen (Victorian), Bardic robe, law and order, wildlife, railways, local worthies, medieval church exhibits, Victorian and fire service including 1770 fire engine. Although the museum isn't overly big, there is plenty to look at and do, and it really does give you a great insight into the history of Bodmin.
Staying in Bodmin, really opened my eyes, to how much of a historical town it really is, when you first arrive in Bodmin it can seem very dreary and that theres not much to do, but if you look beneath the surface there is so much more to offer, and it made our holiday a really enjoyable experince.
At first glance, Bodmin may look like a town with very little to offer the visitor. True, there are few shops, most of which are located on the one main street, (although don't forget to check the alleyways leading off!) Apart from a small branch of both Boots and Woolworths, the majority of the shops are of the small, local, friendly variety... But, then, Bodmin isn't about shopping. At the bottom of the main street, for example, a short walk away from the town's large pay and display car park, is the recently refurbished museum. This tells the history of the town up until the end of the second World War. It recently hosted a Charlotte Diamond exhibition, commemorating a servant girl who was brutally murdered at nearby Rough Tor (pronounced row - as in argument).This featured an 'actual' court room scene with live actors. Admission to the museum is free - opening hours vary according to the season, but are usually between 10.00 am and 4.00 pm (closed Sundays). There is also a second museum devoted to the Duke of Cornwall Light Infantry. This is open all year from 9.00 am until 5.00 pm on weekdays only. Admission is £1 with reductions for children. If you're still wallowing in yesteryear, the Bodmin and Wenford Steam railway is within walking distance. Again, opening hours vary according to the season. (Tel 01208 73666). The railway links with the long distance foot/cycle path known as the Camel Trail which runs through the Camel Valley and beyond. You can hire cycles at various points along the trail - or just walk and enjoy the scenery. A visit to the eery Bodmin Jail is a must for those who are brave enough. It dates back to 1776, and visitors can walk through the dungeons or pose for photographs in the stocks or at the site of the old gallows. There are a variety of exhibitions and tableaux depicting justice at the former county jail. The prison is open every day from 10.00 am (11.00 am on Saturdays) until 6.00
pm. There is free parking, a tea room and, of course, the obligatory souvenir shop! (Tel 01208 76292) Whilst on the subject of the jail, visit the Hole in the Wall pub in Bodmin - not only will you get a good meal, but, at the end of the garden, is a wall plaque giving the names of all those who were hanged at the jail and their crimes. If you are tiring of historical Bodmin, visit the Dragon Leisure Centre which has a swimming pool with flume, squash courts, indoor tennis courts and health and fitness suites with sauna, steam room and jaccuzzi. The centre is open every day, although times vary (Tel 01208 75715) Within easy driving distance of Bodmin are Pencarrow and Lanhydrock - stately homes and gardens which are open to the public. Both have large collections of magnolias, camelias and rhododendrons, so are particularly beautiful in Spring. At nearby Lanivet, you can pamper yourself with a visit to the Lakeview Beauty Spa which offers a variety of beauty treatments to non- members from eyelash dyeing to manicures and leg waxing to wraps (Tel 01208 831808). Also at Lanivet, the atmospheric St Benet's Abbey Restaurant, although this is not really suited for children - more of an adult treat! Further information about Bodmin and the surrounding area can be obtained from the Tourist Information Centre (Tel 01208 76616). This gives details not only of attractions but of accommodation and also of organised walks in the beautiful surrounding countryside...tell them Nikki sent you.