Cornwall is not well known for its woodlands. In fact, there are many areas, such as Bodmin Moor, that can seem almost completely devoid of trees but this only makes the pockets of deep woodland that we do have all the more precious. And the winter months are a wonderful time to explore these peaceful havens. Here is our guide to winter woodland walks in Cornwall.
Cardinham Woods, near Bodmin
Cardinham Woods near Bodmin is one of the largest and best loved areas of forest in Cornwall. Covering roughly 650 acres this woodland is large enough to really feel lost in. It’s a place where the wildlife and your imagination can truly thrive.
The history of this ancient patch of woodland is long and not always quite as peaceful as it is today. Cardinham, as a settlement, has existed for more than 1,000 years, the name probably translates from the Cornish ‘Car’ meaning enclosure and ‘dinas’ meaning fortress. Cardinham Castle, the motte and bailey castle just beyond the confines of the woods, is thought to have been built by Robert de Mortain, the half-brother of William the Conqueror. But these days the woods are the responsibility of Forestry England, who have owned them since 1922. The original deciduous woods – oak, beech, hazel, birch and holly, – are now interspersed with large, managed areas of larch, spruce and fir trees.
Several little streams navigate their way through the forest. The Deviock, Lidcutt, Callywith and Cooksland streams all eventually merge together to feed the gushing Cardinham Water. This river is a highlight for many, whatever the season, but can be particularly special when swelled by winter rains.
Cardinham woods is suitable for walkers, riders and cyclists
Cardinham woods are much loved by local families and visitors alike. Horses, walkers, dogs and cyclists are all welcome. There are four walking and three cycle trails to explore, each of which helps the visitor discover some of this green refuge’s peace and tranquillity as well as it’s fascinating past.
Hidden amongst the trees are many intriguing relics from the area’s diverse history. The remains of an ancient 12th century chapel known as the Lady Vale Chapel once stood beside the river here. Close by is a bridge known as the Lady Vale Bridge which is thought to have been built using stones taken from the religious ruin.
One walk guides you to the remains of Wheal Glynn, an old lead and silver mine that had a shaft that dropped 34 fathoms (63m) beneath the forest floor. It produced eighteen tons of lead in just one year in 1859. Other rural crafts such a charcoal production once thrived here too, making it hard to believe that the woods are now home to suh a wide range of wildlife including deer and otters! It just goes to prove nature’s wonderful ability to heal, in so many ways.
And after all that adventure and fresh air what better way to finish a winter woodland walk than with a hot chocolate and a piece of cake at the Woods Cafe! Perfect!
For ideas on other woodland walks, read our guide on Cornwall’s best Woodland Walks.