Golitha Falls National Nature Reserve, Cornwall
We are incredibly lucky to have the beautiful Golitha Falls (old Cornish word for obstruction) on our door step. It is also incredibly convenient if you are launching a blog on stunning Cornish locations such as we are. So, off we set across the moors to our second location.
Three lazy hikers and a Cornish hog roast…
A short trip up the road and we parked up in the large car park opposite the start of our hike (gentle stroll). We had prepared for a picnic and so avoided the resident all American (save for the Cornish ice-cream) BBQ shed/restaurant ‘Inkies‘ – it smelled fantastic! We pressed on resenting our packed lunch and compensated ourselves with the promise of ice cream upon our return.
Holy local weather system Batman!
As it is always the way when we step out to visit this particular spot, it rained. Although sunny when we left home just a few miles away, the very act of arriving at Golitha Falls, seemed like a Bat-signal to the heavens. It was at this moment I realised the decision to leave behind my waterproof trousers to be a bad one.
Fortune would have it and the trees smiled on us, sheltering us from the worst of the weather, so as we forayed into the not so unknown in our rain macs, hiking boots and backpacks we were less like drowned rats and more like damp nomads.
A little less conversation, a little more information…
Golitha Falls and the ancient woodland surrounding known as Draynes Wood are mentioned in the Domesday Book but the forest management method recorded, by way of coppicing (still continued today), possibly dates back even earlier. The river Fowey (proun.- Foye) nestled in a valley gorge, cascades it’s way through this area of outstanding beauty (ANOB) and is at it’s very best after a heavy rain fall. Further along the river several large stonework structures that were associated with the Wheal Victoria copper mine can be found and hidden in amongst the undergrowth you can still discover the redundant, unobstructed entrances into the mines workings.
A natural nature reserve (NNR) and a site of scientific interest (SSI) on account of its diverse flora, Draynes wood is home to over 120 species of moss and nearly 50 species of lichens. Wildlife is in abundance here with over 80 species of moth, 30 species of birds and bats such as the lesser horseshoe, brown long-eared and nactule. Meanwhile the river boasts various fish including salmon and sea trout, and otters are frequently sighted. Draynes Wood trees are protected by a Tree Preservation Order.
Down by the river bank in the depths of the forest, there be treasure…
We took the river path which is flanked by of course the river itself and a smaller stream, each running parallel to each other. Our daughter embarked on an adventure, tracing the stream in hope of discovering where it joined the main tributary. She was not disappointed, the babbling brook, almost lost at times, eventually grew in tempo and joined the roar of the main river as it flooded over the large ancient stones lining it’s bed. Our next adventure was to find a place for lunch and Evie’s main requirement, some quiet shallow water in which to paddle. So onwards we pressed. We made sure we were respectful of the forest, collecting any dropped litter, careful not to tread on any toadstools (lest the faeries become homeless) and gifting the river with fallen oak leaves (because it needed them for “fish dinner”). In return our daughter was rewarded handsomely. “Look mummy! Real treasure!” as she scrabbled around in the mulching leaves and damp soil she proudly produced a dirty old pound coin “from the trees!”
Finally we found our lunch spot. Over a newish wooden bridge and down some make do steps to the waters edge. The wild river now flowed at a sleepy pace here and as the sun started to poke once again through the clouds we sat on a wet rock and ate lunch. Twenty minutes later, sufficiently fed and soggy bottomed, we went paddling in the icy cold water, our ever optimistic daughter contentedly scouring the immediate river bed for more gold.
And the secret award for best ice cream goes to…
We returned to our car a little under four hours later not forgetting the self promised ice cream from Inkies. Moomaid of Zennor, we discovered makes a zillion delicious flavours of which we tried three, strawberry, crunchy mint chip and salted caramel. All were yummy but the salted caramel won out as top in it’s class, if you ever find yourselves in this delicious little hot spot, don’t leave Cornwall without one!
( Gol – eetha ) – Tues 17th July 2017 – Loc: Lanreath, Liskeard PL14 6RU. 3 miles (5 km) north west of Liskeard and 1.2 miles (2 km) west of St Cleer.
Golitha Falls is one of those mysterious places where if absolutely silent you really can hear the trees whispering their secrets to each other and feel the magic of something intangible. The eerie old mine shaft entrances and ethereal looking workings scattered throughout the forest give it a fantastical Tolkien like feel.