Brown Willy

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Brown Willy
Brown Willy.jpg
Brown Willy from the summit of Rough Tor
Range: Bodmin Moor
Summit: 1,378 feet SX158799
50°35’23"N, 4°36’13"W

Brown Willy is a hill standing in the midst of Bodmin Moor in Cornwall. It is the highest point of Bodmin Moor and indeed the highest hill in Cornwall.

The name "Brown Willy" is thought to be derived from the Cornish language. One suggestion is that it comes from the Cornish bron ughella, meaning "highest hill". Another suggestion is Bron Wennyly meaning swallows' hill.


An ascent of Brown Willy may be made from the northwest or southeast. From Camelford, the Roughtor Road leads up onto the moor, ending some way below Rough Tor, and from there a climb may be made over Rough Tor to Brown Willy. An alternative route is from the opposite direction, from Jamaica Inn (made infamous by Daphne du Maurier but no longer the isolated inn on the moor; the A30 passes the front door).

The hillsides of Brown Willy and Rough Tor are marked with ancient hut circles, and on the lower slopes of Brown Willy there is even an abandoned village.

The Brown Willy effect

The hill gives a name also to "the Brown Willy effect", an occasional meteorological phenomenon that occurs across Cornwall and Devon and brings heavy showers developing over the high ground of Bodmin Moor, which then often travel a considerable distance downwind.


  • Weatherhill, Craig (1995) Cornish Place Names and Language