My family live in Devon so we often have short breaks in Cornwall and it’s always a treat when we discover new treasures. When we were halfway along our travels to the far west of Cornwall, we decided to pull off the main road to find somewhere to picnic and noticed a small brown sign to Cardinham Woods, near Bodmin. The road to the woods is narrow and gravelly which fooled us into thinking that the woods would be quiet but the car park was incredibly busy. Fortunately, because the woods cover such a large area, we were soon on our own in the forest.
My family love these kinds of Forestry Commission maintained woodlands. In the South West there is Cardinham Woods, Bellever Forest and Haldon Forest Park. I was brought up in the country while my wife is a city girl; she is happy in these maintained woodlands to know that there are toilets nearby, places to buy good coffee, and well-maintained paths, while I’m happy that we don’t have to actually stay on the paths at all. A few hundred yards into the forest me and my oldest two girls were soon ducking deep into the forest to hunt down a stream we could dam. My girls are seasoned experts at damming, having served their apprenticeships over countless trips to beach and forest, so we were soon causing merry havoc with the path of a small woodland stream.
My four year old boy then wanted to discover the Stick Man trail and we all trooped along a wide gravel path looking for Stick Man signs. Although the path itself had fantastic views, my four year old found the actual trail disappointing. Signs must be shared amongst other trails in different locations, because the sign which urged us to try Pooh Sticks was hundreds of yards away from a reachable stream. This sort of thing is upsetting when you are four so we cheered him up with a trip to an excellent little play park. I can’t be alone amongst parents in noticing how brilliantly some play parks are designed these days. After a great play we all had a picnic by a small stream which ironically was perfect for the Pooh Sticks challenge from the Stick Man trail.
The woods are laid out with various walking and cycle trails. For cyclists there are a couple of red trails, classed as difficult, and a blue trail, classed as moderate. For walkers there are five laid-out trails, from the easy-going Lady Vale Walk to a three mile steep hike to see the engine house and chimney of Wheal Glynn silver mine. Alternatively, walkers are of course free to find their own way through the forest as we did.