Cardinham Woods is a beautiful, mixed woodland near Bodmin in the centre of Cornwall. It’s managed by the Forestry Commission and is the perfect place to explore by bike, foot or with your dog. There are four walking trails to explore here, ranging from 1.5 to 3 miles. We recently paid a visit on our way to Talland Bay Hotel and met up with our friend Twiglet the Sprocker spaniel, who was on holiday in Cornwall for the weekend. The dogs enjoyed themselves so much that we ended up exploring for most of the day and can’t wait to visit Cardinham Woods again soon.
Cardinham Woods is accessible by car via the A38 towards Liskeard. It’s well signposted en route and Google Maps will take you straight there. There’s plenty of parking available at Cardinham Woods, with two spacious car parks on site. There is a small charge for cars, at £2 for two hours or £5 for the day (December 2018.) However you if you visit frequently, it may be worth purchasing an annual Discovery Pass, which makes parking free. The parking machines only accept exact change but you can register and pay via the PaySmarti mobile app if you prefer.
Cardinham Woods is very family friendly. The walking trails are wide, well maintained and easy to navigate. There are information and activity boards for children dotted around the routes, encouraging them to search for mini-beasts, teach their dog new tricks and learn about the forest. I remember finding long walks boring as a child, so these boards are the perfect way to keep kids entertained while out exploring with the family. We visited during term time but I imagine Cardinham Woods comes to life during the school holidays.
It’s safe to say Woody and Twiglet were in their element at Cardinham Woods. They zoomed off, as soon as they were free from their leads. It was great to watch Woody have fun with a playmate, being an only dog 99% of the time he’s very independent. He rarely plays with other dogs, however Twiglet was an exception. The pair loved chasing each other and sprinting between the trees. Of course the rivers were a big hit, they are spaniels after all!
We started off exploring the Lady Vale Walk, a 1.5 mile circular walk, which starts from the car park. It runs alongside Cardinham Water and the dogs loved running in and out of the river. The walk passes the Lady Vale Bridge, named after a 12th Century chapel, which once stood by the water’s edge. It’s a great walk for families, with level terrain suitable for both push and wheelchairs. Before long we found ourselves back at the main car park, hungry for some lunch.
Wood’s Café is a beautiful family run café based in Cardinham Woods. Their menu offers a selection of traditional, hearty dishes as well as sandwiches and sweet treats. It’s absolutely beautiful inside, however we didn’t want to let loose our muddy spaniels! Fortunately there were dry seats available in the marquee outside. I highly recommend their homemade sausage roll, served with soup of the day (potato and onion, topped with cheese and bacon when we visited!) You can also stay in the woodsman’s cottage, as the café have converted upstairs to sleep 6 guests.
After a quick stop for lunch, Twiglet and Woody were ready and raring to go. We decided to explore one more walk, as it was beginning to get dark. The Callywith Woodland Walk follows the Cooksland stream with stunning views towards Bodmin Moor. As always, the spaniels enjoyed swimming in the stream, as well as showing off their parkour skills on the steep banks. The walk is 2 miles and took us about an hour to complete at a leisurely pace and having a big catch up with my friend as we walked.
At one point, Woody wandered off on his own before coming back to us with a present. He’d lovingly found us a dead bird. Goodness knows where it came from! He paraded it around very proudly, showing off to Twiglet, who’d only found a stick in comparison. Fortunately, he soon dropped the carcass in the woods and we continued on our way.
We loved exploring Cardinham Woods and can’t wait to return. There are still two more walks we need to try, the Lidcutt Valley and the Wheal Glynn routes, so we’ll have to head back there soon!
Have you visited Cardinham Woods with your dogs before? What was your favourite route?
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