A popular location for a woodland walk or bike ride in Cornwall, Cardinham Woods offers a peaceful atmosphere whatever you choose to do.
Cardinham Woods, what an absolute gem! This vast 650 acre woodland, just outside Bodmin is maintained by Forestry England. It prevails as one of Cornwall’s most popular places to visit for families, and is a firm favourite for dog walks, mountain bikers and runners.
I’ve visited Cardinham Woods many times before so it’s a wonder I’ve not written something up before now. On a pleasant Sunday in January, I decided to stop off for a quick run. Despite arriving at 10am, the car park was almost full and it looked like I’d turned up to a dog walkers convention.
Parking at Cardinham is cash free, you have to pay by card. It’s £3 for 2 hours but is free if you have a Forestry England membership.
Walking Routes at Cardinham Woods
While Cardinham Woods has many selling points, one I want to emphasise here is how accessible it is. There are 4 designated walking routes weaving through this Cornish woodland, with the Lady Vale walk being the shortest. At 1.5 miles it’s a manageable length. You can take a shortcut across a bridge part way, halving the distance, making it absolutely ideal for smaller children.
As the path is wide and flat, Lady Vale walk is also suitable for those who use a wheelchair. In fact, there’s a Tramper available for hire at Cardinham which can used on uneven and soft ground.
As I’m continuing with 5k(ish) runs, I opted to do the Callywith walking route at just under 3 miles. Aside from Callywith and Lady Vale, there’s also Wheal Glynn (2.5 miles) and Deviock Trail (4 miles).
Even though I’m familiar with Cardinham Woods, I’ve always stayed on the Lady Vale trail and was looking forward to heading into woodland. I was mostly anticipating excellent views but found I was most captivated by the light seeping through the trees. I think it’s good to return to a familiar place though and make new discoveries and memories; much like a microadventure.
If you’re interested in having local discoveries close to home, check out my post, Microadventures in Cornwall, offering 16 ideas for your next outdoor experience.
Cycling and Mountain Biking at Cardinham
Mountain biking and cycling are incredibly popular here. There’s 3 designated cycle routes at Cardinham Woods: Dialled-In-Dave, Bodmin Beast, and Hell’s Teeth for mountain bike enthusiasts seeking an adrenaline hit. As for walkers, I can only say that I found Cardinham Woods to be peaceful, quiet and relaxing, much like I’d escaped to another world.
If you’re looking for a flatter cycling route, the Pentewan Trail is excellent.
I found the Callywith route to be quite gentle. There are some inclines but I’d describe the route as undulating. Inclines aren’t steep or sharp, rather they’re gradual and steady. The best part (and I know this sounds a little obvious) was being amongst trees, it was unsurprisingly beautiful. From the different coloured trunks and bark to the infinite treetops that make up the landscape, it felt so good to be in nature. All I could see was the sky and seasonal tones of green, accompanied by the sound of the gentle stream. It’s impossible not to relax and feel revived.
The experience of being in woodland, particularly on this day at Cardinham Woods, was uplifting to say the least. The air was crisp and clean (thank you trees), and I’m sure this was helped by the dry morning and relatively mild conditions.
After my run, which seemed to be over very quickly, I swiftly changed and headed out again with my camera.
It’s quite clear that I’ve a growing interest in Cornwall’s woodlands, and once you start looking, it’s surprising how many woods we have. If you’d like an alternative to Cardinham, I’d recommend Idless Woods, near Truro for a scenic stroll, and Kennall Vale for a woodland walk mixed with Cornish history.
There are toilets at Cardinham Woods and there’s usually a themed trail for children (such as The Gruffalo or Superworm). There’s an excellent coffee shop, Woods Cafe, on site too. Here you’ll find a play area to occupy the children while you hug a hot drink and devour a slice of cake. Perfect!
You can find more information about Cardinham Woods at Forestry England