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Through the Woods to Cardinham Church

A long woodland walk in quiet countryside between Bodmin town and Bodmin Moor.

Distance 5 miles (8km)

Minimum time 3hrs 30min

Ascent/gradient 328ft (100m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Generally clear woodland tracks and field sections, 6 stiles

Landscape Deep woodland of deciduous and conifer trees, quiet meadows

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 109 Bodmin Moor

Start/finish SX 099666

Dog friendliness Dogs on lead through grazed areas. The woodland management requests that dogs don't foul the picnic areas

Parking Cardinham Woods car park

Public toilets At car park

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1 From the Cardinham Woods car park, head for the the west side of the main bridge over the Cardinham Water and bear right through a wooden barrier to a three-way junction. Keep to the right and follow a broad forestry track through the woods with the Cardinham Water down to your right.

2 At a junction of tracks, keep right and cross a hidden tributary stream that descends from the left, then turn immediately left up a track. Soon, pass picnic tables by a little rock face on a bend.

3 Turn off right at a junction and pass a purple marker post. In a few paces, at the next junction, keep straight ahead along a grassy track through Lidcutt Wood. Go over a stile and on through woods.

4 Emerge into a field and turn sharply right and uphill by a signpost to reach a 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.

5 A few paces beyond a junction, pass a public footpath sign, cross a river then go off right at another public footpath sign. Cross a little ditch and go over a stile. Head diagonally up the field, aiming to the right of Cardinham church tower, to reach a stile. Go along a grassy ride beside the church. Turn right at the road.

6 At a public footpath sign opposite a cemetery, go right and through a gate into a field. Keep parallel to a fence, then turn left in front of a house and follow an overgrown old track, keeping to the left of a tree. Go through a wooden gate and keep alongside the hedge on the right. Where the track bends round right, bear off left and downhill between trees, and cross a meadow to a stile. This is the line of the right of way. There may be notices here inviting you to keep to the right-hand edge of the field all the way round to the stile.

7 Bear slightly to the left across the next field to a wooden gate beside a horse jump. Keep ahead through a meadow to a bridge over a stream by a water jump, then follow a path through the trees. Go through a wooden gate and reach a T-junction with a track at Milltown. Turn right here, down a surfaced lane and keep left at a junction. Pass Milltown Farm, then pass a junction on the left and reach a black and white wooden barrier. Go up a slope, then turn right at a junction with a forestry track.

8 Follow the track, and then a surfaced lane from Target Cottage, to the car park.

Cardinham Woods occupy a favoured position, east of Bodmin town, in the serene countryside drained by the 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 visitors must always heed notices indicating where work is being carried out.

There are a number of waymarked, themed trails throughout the Cardinham Forestry area, but this walk takes you beyond the woods to the peaceful hamlet of Cardinham and to its handsome church of St Meubred's. From the well-appointed parking and picnic area at the entrance to Cardinham Woods the way leads along a broad forestry track above the Cardinham Water to a major junction of tracks at Ladyvale Bridge. You turn immediately left before the bridge, but before doing so, walk on for a few paces past a big signpost 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. Somewhere within the tangle of woodland behind the bridge is the site of Ladyvale Chapel, an early Christian site. The bridge is a rather poignant reminder of a less mannered world than our own.

As you climb higher into the woods, the route leaves the managed forest and passes through the upper reaches of Lidcutt Wood, a glorious witch-world of old beech trees whose moss-covered trunks are entwined with thick columns of menacing 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 (PWhile You're There). From the church you head back towards Cardinham Woods through old meadows and along ancient tracks that once served as a pilgrims' way to Ladyvale Chapel.

Where to eat and drink

There are no food and drink outlets on the route. There was a delightful riverside café at the Cardinham Woods reception area, but it is closed and there is no certainty, at present, that it will reopen as a café. You will find a range of food outlets in Bodmin 4 miles (6.5km) away, but if you want an authentic country pub try the London Inn at St Neot, 8 miles to the east of Cardinham Woods.

While you're there

St Meubred's Church at Cardinham village is a handsome building both inside and out. The churchyard boasts two splendid Cornish crosses one of which is well over 8ft (2m) high. The aisles have very fine wagon roofs, some of which retain original colouring, and are more than matched by the 15th-16th century bench ends. During the Second World War, St Meubred's was damaged by a bomb, meant for Plymouth. It landed in the churchyard and destroyed the chancel windows.

What to look for

If you are very lucky - and very quiet - you may spot the elusive roe deer. This is a small, handsome little deer with red-brown summer coat and long grey winter coat. The small antlers are very upright and usually have only three points.

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