The beaches of Cornwall are always going to be the jewel in the county’s crown, but there are plenty of other ways to get a fix of the great outdoors down here. If you find yourself craving a woodland view (trees are rarely part of the seaside environment), Cardinham is the answer.
The Forestry Commission has created a little forested wonderland at Cardinham and then made it brilliantly accessible for families with a café, kids play area and lots of even, level paths through the woodland that mean those using prams or wheelchairs don’t miss out.
Cardinham is a steep-sided valley with a picture-perfect stream meandering along the bottom. The easiest walk is a circular potter around the valley floor, a flat 3km that takes in the ancient ‘clapper’ bridge at the far end of the route. If you’re happy with a bit more ascent, there are several walks that lead you up the sides of the valley, with great views at the top over the woodland. Cardinham is wildlife heaven – you might see red deer, foxes, buzzards and woodpeckers. During the summer it can feel as though every butterfly and dragonfly in the southwest is fluttering along this valley.
2013 marks the opening of a series of new mountain biking trails around Cardinham Woods. While the full route is relatively short, it includes plenty of challenging technical single track to get your teeth into.
The facilities at Cardinham are well thought out; extensive parking, toilets (including disabled loos) and picnic areas plus one of the nicest cafes for miles. Woods Café occupies an old woodsman’s cottage – very ‘Hansel and Gretel’. Everything is homemade on a menu that features ploughman’s lunches with local cheeses, hearty stews and cakes that would make the Women’s Institute proud. In the winter, grab the sofa by the fire; don’t miss the local ice cream from the cute little kiosk outside in the summer.
Cardinham Woods is found just off the A30 at the A38 junction. It’s open every day.
Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 4AL
Cardinham Woods, Bodmin, Cornwall, PL30 4AL, 01208 78111