Cardinham Woods lie east of Bodmin town, in the serene countryside drained by Cardinham Water and its tributaries. The 650 acres (263ha) that make up the combined Deviock, Hurtstocks, Callywith and Tawnamoor Woods of Cardinham have been in the hands of the Forestry Commission since 1922. The original woodland was used for a number of traditional rural industries, including charcoal burning. Some of the old woodland of oak, beech, hazel, birch and holly survives. The commercial timber includes larch, Sitka spruce and Douglas fir. Most of the tracks and paths throughout the woods are courtesy of the woodland management, and walkers must always heed notices indicating where work is being carried out.
There are a number of waymarked walking and cycling trails throughout the woods, but this walk takes you beyond to the hamlet of Cardinham and to its handsome Church of St Meubred's. From the parking and picnic area at the entrance to Cardinham Woods the way leads along a broad forestry track above Cardinham Water to a major junction of tracks at Lady Vale Bridge. You turn immediately left before the bridge, but before doing so walk on a few paces and look at the little granite ‘clapper’ bridge that crosses the rushing stream down on the right. Now blocked off, this was known as Valebridge and was a major crossing point for centuries. Within the tangle of woodland behind the bridge is the site of Lady Vale Chapel, an early Christian site.
As you climb higher into the woods, the route leaves the managed forest and passes through the upper reaches of Lidcutt Wood, a witchlike world of old beech trees whose moss-covered trunks are entwined with thick columns of ivy that will send a shiver up your spine, if not your legs. Beyond here a quiet lane descends steeply to a field path that leads up to the Church of St Meubred’s. From the church you head back towards Cardinham Woods through old meadows and along ancient tracks that once served as a pilgrims’ way to Lady Vale Chapel.
From the Cardinham Woods car park, cross the wooden bridge over Cardinham Water and pass the cafe and play area. Bear right, then right again through a wooden barrier to a three-way junction. Keep to the right and follow a broad forestry track through the woods with Cardinham Water to your right. Ignore a sign left to the Liddicoat Valley Walk.
Where a track comes in from the left, bear slightly right to cross a tributary stream (just before Lady Vale Bridge) and turn left up a track marked by a guide post that mentions various woodland walks. Soon you'll pass picnic tables by a little rock face on a bend.
Just before a bridge turn off right at a junction. In a few paces, ignore a turning right for the Bodmin Beast bike trail and keep straight ahead along a grassy track through Lidcutt Wood. Go over a stile and on through woods.
Emerge into a field and bear half right; the right of way heads straight across the field aiming for a wooden gate onto a concrete track. Turn left and follow the track to a public road. Turn right along the road and follow it over the brow of the hill and down into the valley.
Pass a lane junction and keep ahead downhill to cross a river, then go off right at a public footpath sign. Go over a stile and cross a little ditch. Head diagonally up the field, aiming to the right of St Meubred’s church tower, to cross a stile. Go along a grassy ride beside the church. Turn right at the road.
At a public footpath sign opposite a cemetery, go right and through a gate into a field. Aim for a guidepost in the middle of the field and carry on, following a faint track, keeping to the left of a tree. Go through two metal gates and keep alongside the hedge on the right. At a stile, where the track bends round right, bear off left and head downhill between trees to cross a meadow to a stile. This is the line of the right of way.
Bear diagonally left across the next field to a wooden gate. Keep ahead to a bridge over a stream, then follow a path through the trees. Go through a wooden gate and reach a T-junction with a lane at Milltown. Turn right here, down the lane and keep left at a junction. Pass Milltown Farm, and keep ahead to reach a wooden barrier. Go up a slope, then turn right at a junction with a forestry track.
Follow the track to reach the track junction at Lady Vale Bridge, beside which the Old Clapper Bridge still stands. Keep straight ahead alongside the river to pass Lost in the Woods Lodge and return to the car park.
Generally clear woodland tracks and field sections; several stiles
Deep woodland of deciduous and conifer trees, quiet meadows
Dogs on lead through fields and under control in Cardinham Woods
OS Explorer 109 Bodmin Moor
Cardinham Woods car park
At car park
Walking in safety
Read our tips to look after yourself and the environment when following this walk.
Also in the area
About the area
Discover Cornwall and Isles of Scilly
Cornwall has just about everything – wild moorland landscapes, glorious river valley scenery, picturesque villages and miles of breathtaking coastline. With more than 80 surfing spots, there are plenty of sporting enthusiasts who also make their way here to enjoy wave-surfing, kite surfing and blokarting.
In recent years, new or restored visitor attractions have attracted even more visitors to the region; the Eden Project is famous for its giant geodesic domes housing exotic plants from different parts of the globe, while nearby the Lost Gardens of Heligan has impressive kitchen gardens and a wildlife hide.