Holiday makers to Cornwall dream about beautiful beaches, wide coastal views and historical tropical gardens, but Cardinham Woods is a lovely hidden secret waiting to be discovered. Set in a lush green valley near Bodmin and imaginatively managed by the Government’s Forestry Commission, the multi-coloured mixed woodland makes a perfect day out for all the family, including dogs.
Explore four winding waymarked walking trails, identifying trees, the remnants of the old mine and clapper bridge across a free flowing stream, using the free ForestXplorer app (available for iOS and Android). Alternatively hire mountain bikes from Trailmunki and take their advice on the best routes for your fitness level through miles of quality single track left by the mining industry.
For children and parents, Badger Forest School and Outdoor Learning is a great introduction to new types of play, adventure and skills, including campfire cooking. They will even teach you how to light your own fire using just a steel and lighter. Great fun as either another holiday activity or for an unusual birthday party.
The woods have a large car park, loos and children’s playground at the entrance, with plenty of seating for picnickers and free barbeques for those who want to create their own feast. Alternatively, try the charming Woods Café, nestled below soaring trees. In winter, they have a roaring fire indoors, while their large outside seating area makes a lovely spot for dog walkers to enjoy cakes and coffee or a cream tea.
We had a lunch of pea soup with feta cheese, followed by sausage rolls made from well seasoned Cornish pork, a seasonal salad and homemade spicy apple chutney. There is a selection of drinks, including local bottled beers, but glasses of tap water are freely available (and the Cornish tap water is very drinkable.) It was an absolute bargain at £5.95 a head – unlike many tourist locations where a catering monopoly is an excuse to rip off visitors. The water bowls for thirsty dogs were appreciated too.
It is so easy to sit and relax at the café that we recommend site seeing and exercising are best taken before a refreshment break. It is a lovely way to end a visit by treating yourself to some fresh homemade food using the best of Cornish produce while chatting about your latest discovery. This is definitely a place which justifies return visits, particularly as the woods reflect the season changes. There are also specially designed activities, with the Autumn Activity Trial now open and a woodland community canvas to display the natural materials you discover on the forest floor.