The Judges’ Road

Ian Thompson of the Milestone Society and local champion Joan Webb have been working with local people and charities to restore and celebrate a lost road between Bodmin and Camelford on the edge of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. This was the route taken by the Assize Court Judges when the Summer Assize was moved from Launceston to Bodmin in 1716.

The road was so bad at that time that special instructions were issued to have the surface improved and trees and hedges cut back so that the coach carrying the judges could make the journey safely. The road became the main post road between Camelford and Bodmin and the route was marked by granite milestones and direction posts. Sadly, four of the original eleven milestones had disappeared. The most recent loss was in 2007 when the six mile stone was destroyed by a hedging flail.

A generous donation from the Camel Valley and Bodmin Moor Protection Society and Cornwall Council funding raised by Councillor Mick Martin enabled Ian to have four replacement granite milestones made at De Lank Quarry. The new milestones were erected by Cormac Solutions. St Breward Parish Council sponsored the milestone in their parish. Bodmin Town Council gave funding for the replacement one mile stone. Cornwall Heritage Trust and Michaelstow Parish Council gave financial support to the project which also involved the cleaning and repainting of the surviving milestones and granite guide stones and the clearing and cleaning of a number of rare county bridge stones along the route.

It was thought that the fifth milestone at Penpont had been lost, but local farmer Ashley Masters removed a mountain of rubble to reveal the milestone still in its original location.

Camelford Town Council offered to restore the arms on the granite signpost at Valley Truckle as their contribution to the project.

A colour leaflet has been produced to celebrate the completion of the project and to act as a guide to anyone wanting to follow this ancient route. The Judges’ Road is entirely along public roads. While this was once the main road to Bodmin, the route has long been replaced by wider, faster roads and is now a series of country lanes.

Following the Judges’ Road by car, or if you are fit by bicycle, is a challenge of navigation and a treasure hunt to spot the historic roadside features described in the leaflet. Remember that when the Judges’ first came this way in 1716 in their horse drawn coach the road surface was dirt not tarmac, but the hills were just as steep as they are today.