Family Friendly Woodland Walks
Cornwall isn't well known for its woodland, trees don't generally like strong winds, and so if you want to explore traditional woodland your best bet is to head to one of the river valleys on the south coast like the Fal, the Fowey or the Looe valley... Saying that there are some lovely bits of woodland in other parts of Cornwall, and we have mentioned several below.
We start with a wood that seperates the West Looe from the East Looe valley. Trenant Woods are managed by the Woodland Trust, who over the last 20 years or so, have planted loads of new trees out on the point where the two rivers meet. But to get there you have to walk through ancient woodland, full of bluebells in the spring, but decorated by a carpet of multicoloured leaves in the autumn. If you look closely, you will see fungi shooting up through the leaves (best left there, unless you know what you are doing).
To access the woods there is a small carpark above the West Looe river from where you follow the valley downstream towards Looe. Tracks then run up the East Looe valley before doubling back. Plenty of info on the website.
Both the West Looe and East Looe valleys provide plenty of other woodland walks, including Deerpark Forest at Herodsfoot where you can stay in purpose built lodges amongst the trees.
Tehidy Country Park
For a walk that ticks lots of boxes for kids, you can’t go wrong by making a beeline for Tehidy Country Park. With a central position just off the A30 near Redruth, this Cornwall Council owned and managed park covers 250 acres of woodland and has over 9 miles of paths. Little legs will be happiest stomping their way along the circular walk which runs around the edge of the lake and is waymarked by signposts. Off-road, flat and easy going with lots of opportunities to get wellies nice and dirty, it’s an all round winner among families. It takes approx 30 minutes to go full circle but with a few stops to say hello to the ducks along the way it can be turned into a full afternoon activity. There’s also a cafe for all important refuelling. More info here.
Some trees just shout ‘climb me’ and no where is this more true than in Idless Woods just outside Truro. The well-laid path which stretches for 2.8 miles is framed by a variety of tree types, all reaching for the sky and offering an exciting mix of climbing challenges for mini adventurers. Scan the woodland floor and race to fill pockets with pine cones and nuts which drop from the branches in the autumn to become bountiful treasures in little hands.
Idless is a Forestry England managed wood, and as well as the ordinary walking routes, there are also seven orienteering courses set up to test your navigational skills on. More info here.
In the north-east of Cornwall, tucked away on a country road outside Week St Mary, is a woodland walk that leads to one of Cornwall's little secrets. Penhallam Manor was abandoned in the 1400s, having been built in the late 1100s. It's a rare example of a moated manor house, rare because very few were built in the south-west. All that's left are low grass covered walls marking out the ground plan, but it's its sitaution in the wooded valley, surrounded by trees, that warrents a mention in this list. More info here.
Respryn Bridge and Lanhydrock
Lanhydrock House is the 'jewell in the crown' of the National Trust's properties in Cornwall and rightfully receives a huge number of visitors every year. But the house is only a small part of the visitor experience, although for many, it's the only bit they see.
Down in the valley below the house, sits Respryn Bridge, astride the River Fowey. Cross it from the car park and take the path on the right, that leads down along the river flanked by trees. After crossing a modern footbridge there are several paths that can be followed, all leading to glorious bits of woodland, our favourite is to keep left following the river until you come to an island (not always surrounded by water).
If at Respryn you go upriver from the carpark, you will walk amongst a Pinetum, a grand avenue of conifers planted many years ago by the owners of Lanhydrock. This path eventually leads to Bodmin Parkway Station, allowing visitors who prefer to travel by train to do these walks.
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
Another of our very popular attractions, that is worth exploring a bit further afield than just the main gardens, is Heligan. Away from the wonderful formal gardens there lies at the bottom of the valley, a large area of traditional woodland. here you will find wildlife ponds and an area used for the production of charcoal, the kilns supplying the finished product to the shop in the main gardens. Being sheltered, the leaves tend to stay on the trees longer, meaning more colour!
Although there are paths that allow you to explore this creek made famous by Daphne DuMaurier's novel of the same name, the best way to explore it is from the water. The guys at Koru Kayaking do guided tours taking you deep into the creek, where the only sound is of the birds and the wind blowing through the trees. The tour also gives you access to the Helford Estuary, most of it tree lined.
On the northern banks of the estuary are the adjecant gardens at Trebah and Glendurgan, both lovely for Autumnal strolls.
Our last woodland walk takes us to the far west of Cornwall, an area where you will find very few trees. This small conifer plantation between Mousehole and Lamorna can be walked through on the South West Coast Path, offering great views along one of the finest stretches of the path. The Cornwall Wildlife Trust manage the site which is a great place to find fungi in the autumn, and you might spot a dolphin or two (out to sea, not in the woods!)
Autumn is the time to be out hunting mushrooms and fungi. Delve deep into the woods and discover what lurks between the leaves on the colourful carpet. But, don't pick any that you are not sure about as they can be poisonous. As soon as we get information about organised forays, we will post them on our What's On pages.