Family adventures in Cardinham Woods

Entrance to the cycle trails at Cardinham Woods in Cornwall.

Cardinham Woods is less than 30 minutes’ drive from Bosinver, and has plenty to offer families, as Nanny Pat discovered.

If you go down to the woods today, you might not find a teddy bear’s picnic, but there are plenty of oportunities for family adventures. Walk the waymarked trails, go cycling, or simply relax in the Woods Café while the kids let off steam in the adventure playground.

Cardinham Woods is managed by the Forestry Commission, and their website is full of useful information. At the moment, they’ve even got an interactive autumn leaf colour rating tool, so visitors wanting to see the woods in all their autumnal glory can check when’s the best time to go, and people who’s been can add their own rating.


It’s an attractive mixed woodland that’s popular year-round with locals and visitors alike. It’s great for families with children of all ages, as the little ones will be happy exploring, paddling in the stream, or spending time in the imaginative animal-inspired wooden play area next to the Woods Café. Those with older children can venture deeper into the woods and walk or cycle the trails.

Nanny Pat said: “We spent hours at Cardinham. Megan loved paddling in the stream with her wellies on and she spent ages on the playground and scooting around the tracks. We also enjoyed taking a closer look at some of the plants and flowers.”


Cardinham has some excellent walking trails which reveal fantastic views and a taste of the area’s history. There are four waymarked trails to choose from, and plenty of other tracks to explore.You can read about all the trails and download maps from the website.


Callywith Wood Walk
A moderate grade walk along good tracks with gradual slopes (2.5 miles)

Lady Vale Walk
This is a pretty walk which is suitable for all abilities. It is also wheelchair and pushchair friendly (1.5 – 2 miles)

Lidcutt Valley Walk
A long loop off the Lady Vale Walk. Overall this is a moderate walk with one steep section. (3.5 miles)

Wheal Glynn Walk
This is short but demanding walk, although the views are definitely worth the effort. You’ll catch a glimse of history as the walk takes you up to Wheal Glynn, where they used to mine lead and silver. You can still see the old engine house and chimney through the trees.

Family and leisure cycling

Cardinham has a wide variety of paths that are suitable for walking, cycling and horse-riding.

Off-road trails/mountain biking

Cardinham has some new cycling trails for off-road cyclists and mountain bikers which are great for families with older children, couples or adult groups.

The ‘Bodmin Beast’ blue trail is suitable for cyclists with a moderate level of off-road experience and keen mountain bikers. It will take you around the wooded slopes of the Cardinham Valley and includes several technical climbs and descents. For more experienced mountain bikers, there are two sections of difficult red grade trail, which connect to the Bodmin Beast – ‘Dialled-In Dave’ and ‘Hell’s Teeth’.

Food & drink

The Woods Café is set in an old woodsman’s cottage in an idyllic setting. In the winter months, you can sit beside a real fire and warm up after your walk.


The food there is delicious, and there are plenty of seasonal dishes to choose from including chicken and leek stew, butternut squash and chickpea tagine and beef stew and dumplings when it’s cold and delicious quiches and salads in the summer. Warning – the cakes are very temping! We love the squidgy brownies, the divine carrot cake and the white chocolate and raspberry muffins. Mmm…

There are also plenty of picnic benches outside if you prefer to bring your own food.


Getting there

Cardinham Woods is less than two miles from Bodmin. The postcode for SatNavs is PL30 4AL.

Car parking costs £3 for up to 2 hours, £4 for 4 hours or £6 for all day. There are toilets available including disabled and baby changing facilities.

Have you been to Cardinham Woods yet? What did you enjoy the most?

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