The Forestry Commission
Bodmin PL30 4AL,
Tel: 0300 067 4800
The second day of our week in Cornwall in October 2015 started off as a grey wet day. Undaunted we drove through the rain and fog out there to the Forestry Commission site at Cardinham Woods. A leaflet in the cottage where we were staying had provided our navigators with the following directions:
From Bodmin, take the A38 to Liskeard. Take the first exit at the roundabout and follow the brown tourist sign. Pass the crematorium, and just after a sharp right hand bend take the turning on the left signed ‘Cardinham Woods’. Satnav: PL30 4AL.
By the time we had arrived the rain had stopped but the clouds were low and everything was damp. The large car park with several blue badge parking spaces has pay-and-display machines at which everyone has to pay including blue badge holders (this seems to be the case generally in Cornwall). Here we found ourselves in the dip of the valley, all around us the hillsides were clothed in trees which towered in the murky gloom. Walking boots, and waterproofs on; FreeWheel attached to Titania; and Gypsy bouncing and excited, we were ready to find what Cardinham Woods had to offer.
A map near the car park showed us the walks available. The different trails are graded as “Easy”, “Moderate”, “Difficult” or “Extreme”. Now we are not crazy, so we stuck to the Lady Vale Walk described on the map as an “easygoing easy access route enjoyable with wheelchairs ...”. We also planned to add to it a shortened version of the Lidcutt Valley trail which, while avoiding a steep incline in that valley, does stretch the walk by around three miles, edging our adventure towards the Moderate side of Easy. With map in hand and the decision on the route made without arguments, and with Gypsy keen to forge ahead we set off, noting the position of the Woods Cafe for later.
The tarmac of the carpark gave way to the hard slightly stony paths which were generally what we found on the Lady Vale walk. Initially the wide path started up a slight (but manageable) incline as we climbed up out of the valley into the trees. For a while it was bounded on both sides by tall trees their tops fading into the misty murk of the low cloud. As we came to the top of the first rise the path gained a fence on the right and we found ourselves able to look down into the misty valley. The path then flattened out, perhaps even sloped down gently(we weren’t fooled there was more “up” to come). The valley became narrower with the trees once more on both sides. A stream ran fairly close to the path, and in a couple of places it was possible to get right next to it, or in Gypsy’s case to get right into it! (What is it about water and dogs?!).
A trail went off to our left and after some consultation with the map, and different opinions about where we were on it we decided to try this path, believing it to be our planned alternative Lidcutt Valley route. It did turn out to be the Lidcutt Valley, but not the route avoiding the steep slope! It wasn’t long before we realised the rise which we were climbing was unrelenting and not what had signed up for, so we about-turned and retraced our steps and continued on the main trail, until we did find the alternative less demanding route.
Less demanding it was, but there was still a long gentle up slope. The path narrowed and the surface became more uneven and stony, but the magic and atmosphere of the place made it all worth it. Then when the top of the hill was crested, it was suddenly downhill, Titania and me leading the way with Gipsy bouncing beside us down to rejoin the main Lady Vale path again.
We were back on the wider path which continued to run beside the river giving Gipsy more opportunities to go splashing after sticks before starting a gentle rise up the valley again. We continued in this way through the woodland, the grey clouds now providing a gentle autumn drizzle until unexpectedly we found a gate across the trail which was easily navigated round and suddenly we were on a tarmac country road which led downhill to the other side of the car-park we had started from.
We had completed the Lady Vale walk. We crossed the car-park, after first making use of the suitably adapted loos which we found there and made for the Woods cafe which we had spotted earlier. Here we availed ourselves of a welcome pot of tea (or bottle of the local beer depending on what took our fancy) and a rather good savoury cream tea – cheese scones, cream cheese and pickles and chutney - wonderfully fortifying after our enjoyable trek out there round Cardinham Woods.
The video below will give you a taste (no not of the cream tea!) of the two or more hours of our walk out there, condensed into about eight minutes. We hope it gives you the sense of majesty of the woods which we felt. It is certainly worth a visit, and is a relatively accessible way to get close to nature.
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Richard & Di
21st May 2016