Brown Willy is Cornwall's highest hill, with a summit reaching 1,378 feet (420 meters) above sea level. Located among the rocky outcrops and desolate reaches of Bodmin Moor, with cairns that date back to the early Bronze Age, Brown Willy has been considered a sacred place for thousands of years. The summit cairn, which has never been excavated, is thought by some to be the resting-place of an ancient Cornish king. Despite this claim there is little other evidence of ancient settlement, unlike other hills on Bodmin Moor such as nearby Roughtor and Garrow Tor.
At certain times of the year other cairns align with the neighbouring Rough Tor and the nearby Stannon stone circle, suggesting that their construction had some kind of astrological purpose. One latter day group (The Artherius Society) even believe that Brown Willy is a holy mountain and make an annual pilgrimage here on the 23rd November.
In 2012 an attempt was made to change the hill's comical name back to the original Cornish, 'Bronn Wennili', which means 'Hill of Swallows. The campaign was unsuccessful. The Telegraph ran an editorial supporting the existing name and many locals were against the change.
Heavy rainfall occasionally gathers over Bodmin Moor after travelling downwind for a long distance, resulting in flash floods such as the one which occurred in Boscastle in 2004. The phenomenon is known in meteorological circles as the 'Brown Willy Effect'.
Being the highest point in Cornwall Brown Willy is a focal point for walkers.There is an excellent circular walk of around five miles that takes in the summits of Rough Tor and Brown Willy. Views from the summit stretch to both sides of the coast, from Looe in the south, to Tintagel in the north. There is also an annual running race, The Brown Willy Run, which starts at Jamaica Inn in Bolventor 2.5 miles (4 km) away and climbs to the the summit and back.