Cornwall’s alluring countryside is filled with unusual wildlife, cascading waterfalls and ruins of Cornwall’s past. Here is our local’s guide to five enchanting woodland trails.


1. Tehidy Woods

Tehidy Woods is the largest area of woodland in West Cornwall, with over 9 miles of paths and 250 acres of peaceful woods and lakes ready to be explored. The woods have a series of colour-coded footpaths and cycle routes leading around them. A 90 foot monument built in memory of Sir Francis Basset in 1836 can also be seen on top of Carn Brea. Tehidy Country Park has five main access points with free car parks. Beautiful and tranquil year round, Tehidy is well worth a visit whether you are taking the dog for a walk, going on a weekend stroll or orienteering with a group.

tehidy woods

Darren Shilson/Flickr

2. Golitha Falls

This popular spot occupies a steep-sided valley gorge with the River Fowey flowing through in a series of cascades. This ancient woodland is an enchanting site with an easily-accessible path along the river side. For the more adventurous, veer off the foot path when you reach its end and venture up the hill to discover tranquil meadows and beautiful woodland. The best time of year to do this is in Spring, where you will come across a blanket of bluebells covering the woodland’s floor.

golitha falls woods

Andy Powell/Flickr

3. Kennall Vale

Take a walk through history at Kennall Vale; a picturesque woodland with rich undergrowth, open glades and remnants of the old gunpowder works. Scattered through the reserve are the remains of the 19th century Kennall Vale Gunpowder Works, including several granite mills and buildings, as well as a complex system of leats. After walking the first part of the path at the top of the slope you will discover the first of these remains, including the aftermath of a series of explosions in 1838. The river rushes down a valley of moss and over an abandoned weir. Look up and you will see a canopy of beech trees, allowing the ground to be clear of the brambles and rhodendrons that cover the floors of many other Cornish woodlands. Kennall Vale is also filled with wildlife, including the pipistrelle bat.

kennall vale woods

Martin Bridgen/Flickr

4. Cardinham Woods

Ramble through 230 hectares of woodland in the beautiful valley of the Cardinham Water river. Waymarked trails will take you deep into the woods to discover stunning viewpoints and an intriguing history. For the adventurous try out the Bodmin Beast Cycling Trail, and for the kiddies explore the Superworm Trail. Take a look at our ‘Meet the Chef’ feature on the Woods Cafe a quaint cottage amidst the trees and slopes of Cardinham, where we picked owner Lara Spurrell’s brain on the delicious treats and hearty meals on offer at her cafe. Or why not bring some treats for a picnic of BBQ using their BBQ’s and seating area.

cardinham woods

5. Respryn Woods

Part of the National Trust Estate of Lanhydrock, these woodlands take in fantastic scenery along the River Fowey through semi-natural ancient woodland. Follow the Respryn Ramble to see the first of the daffodils in March, followed by the bluebells in April and May. Cross the river over the  Respryn Bridge, dating from the 15th century. Admire magnificent 400-year-old oak trees, spot dippers, wagtails, kingfishers and otters along the River Fowey, and see the Daubentons bats fly above you. Tin streaming, one of the earliest forms of tin mining, dating back to the 1600s can be seen in the mix of banks and ditches throughout the woods.

Robert Pittman/Flickr

Robert Pittman/Flickr

Want to see more like this?

‘Top 5 Woodland Trails’ is taken from our Aug/Sept 2013, Vol.2 Issue 19. Subscribe to myCornwall magazine for more stories like this one.