There are two places in Cornwall that I consider top of my list to visit for a child friendly bluebell walk – Enys Gardens in Penryn or a walk through the woods at Lanhydrock, near Bodmin.
My Nanny Pat Day was predicted to have glorious sunshine all day, so I packed a picnic and set off for Lanhydrock with Jasmine and Gemma, my son’s chihuahua, for our Friday adventure. We stopped for a coffee for me and special hot chocolate with marshmallows for Jasmine at the lovely new café next to the car park so that she could have a go on the fabulous Earth Wrights play equipment.
Next stop was a short drive to Respryn car park adjoining the River Fowey and the start of a delightful river walk. First we crossed the beautiful medieval granite bridge over the river with five arches.
Dating from the 15th century and on an ancient trackway linking Bodmin and Looe, it is very narrow and designed with pedestrian refuges which you can squeeze into as cars go by. We crossed the bridge and turned right onto a footpath which follows the river heading towards Lostwithiel. It is a delightful path, lined with wildflowers of all descriptions and teeming with bird life. We were thrilled to be able to watch a majestic heron, stock still peering into the water, searching for his next meal.
After a short walk, the path crosses a more modern bridge and heads up the hill, crossing Newton Lane and heading into the woods leading up the hill towards Lanhydrock House. Here is my special bluebell spot.
Carpets of them cover the ground, teemed up with the last of the primroses, celandines, masses of ransomes (wild garlic) and in some special spots, the delicate wood anemone. The most magical time for me is when the new beech leaves unfurl, vivid lime green contrasting with the distinctive blue hue.
Mother Nature certainly knows her colour combinations to best effect! Jasmine had her eye on the teddy bear trail that we stumbled across but it went off in a different direction so I promised we would pop back another day to explore it.
We turned back after feasting our eyes and naming the trees and plants around us and headed back down to Newton Lane to turn left and head back to Respryn. It was interesting to notice how the wildflowers changed back in the sunny open lane to reveal a profusion of buttercups and celandines. Gemma was glad of a drink from the beautiful old well alongside the path and we returned to the car to grab our picnic.
There is a field with shady trees alongside the river and we laid our picnic blanket down to enjoy the peace and tranquility of this spot whilst eating our lunch before it was time to head back to pick up Sam from school.
I’m making the most of my precious time with Jasmine as she starts school in September and her world will widen. I think it’s been my duty as a ‘tribal elder’ to share simple knowledge with her such social skills, enjoying and enthusing about the natural world and exercising in it, telling my life stories and a myriad of other things which come about from the simple process of sharing time together. I consider myself lucky and privileged to have had this precious time with all my grandchildren before they were exposed to the pressure and competition of mainstream education and the clamour of the modern world.
Lanhydrock estate is managed by the National Trust. There is a magnificent late Victorian country house and formal garden (open to the public), plus parkland and woodland walks and miles of cycle trails, many suitable for families with young children.
There’s plenty of parking onsite (free for National Trust members) and good toilet/baby changing facilities. There is also a bike hire centre and an excellent café.
Lanhydrock is near Bodmin, just off the A30/A38 and is well signposted (look out for the brown tourist signs). From Bosinver, it’s approximately 30 minutes’ drive. Postcode for satnavs: PL30 5AD. The nearest station is Bodmin Parkway, 1¾ miles away.