In search of the perfect dog walk in Cornwall

PUBLISHED: 11:21 16 September 2020 | UPDATED: 11:33 16 September 2020

Praa Sands beach Cornwall England on the South West Coast Path with a sandy beach and blue sky on a beautiful sunny day

Praa Sands beach Cornwall England on the South West Coast Path with a sandy beach and blue sky on a beautiful sunny day

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A trip to ancient Godolphin and the best dog beach in Cornwall

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This month we head to an ancient woodland where the ever-changing sights and smells will delight both you and your dog

For most people, going to Godolphin means a visit to the beautiful house or a traipse up the hill to enjoy the views. But there is a woodland walk that is perfect for your four-legged friend just down the road that offers a cool refuge in the summer and the perfect wintry setting in the colder months.

Instead of pulling into the main car park for the house, continue down the road away from Godolphin Cross village and you will see another small car park just off the bend in the road. Puling in here, there is a small amount of parking at the start, then further spaces down a small track.

This ancient woodland is a perfect all year round, with something to offer in every season. From the bluebells that carpet the floor in spring, to the butterflies that emerge in summer and the fungi and leaf-carpeted floor in autumn, it is a gentle and fairly quiet walk that always has something to enjoy.

Head over the style and onto the path that will lead you through the woods. There are lots of little tracks that lead off from the main path that you can go exploring in if you are feeling a bit more adventurous; however, the initial walk is quite short before you reach a quaint wooden bridge that takes you over the small, shallow River Hayle. This river is inaccessible at this section due to the growth of willow around its banks, but your dog can get its paws wet in other places.

Over the bridge you will find yourself at a bit of a crossroads. If you continue ahead then you will be led to a path which takes you on the outskirts of a field. There is a succession of fields here in either direction which you can enjoy, although you will be brought into a full circle back to another area in the woodlands if you head right. Back on the path though, if you stick to the right track then you will continue through the woodlands. Be aware that it can get a little muddy here, so wellies are recommended for those wet days.

The main path will lead you to another part of the river, where this time the bank is shallow and your dog can get in. Here, you can weave further into the woodlands, however be careful; there are signs up warning of mineshafts, so stay inside the wire fencing and don’t venture too far. Tucked away in a far corner, someone has installed a wooden swing and a log bivouac – perfect to entertain little ones.

Tucked away you will also pass several beautiful old buildings; some residential and others National Trust-owned, guaranteed to make you jealous and wistful for a life in the woods! Be careful when you pass through any gates however, as some lead out to the road, but if you turn back around and head the way you came you will find yourself back at the beginning. You can easily walk along the main road back to your car if you want a short cut, however be careful as there are no paths here. On the other side of the road, there are a few styles that will head you into the main Godolphin estate if you wish you extend your walk further and you can head up the hill from one of these.

You can either walk or drive down the road to Godolphin House when it is open and enjoy a wander around their gardens or grab a takeaway tea or coffee (and a slice of cake!) from the café. Dogs are not allowed in the house.

Rating: Easy. The area is mostly flat and manageable.

Accessibility: The main paths are wide and well cared for, however there are lots of little paths coming off the main one that would not be wheelchair or pushchair suitable.

Facilities: There are bins, toilets and a café available at Godolphin House. Be aware that dogs are not allowed in the house or any of the buildings, but they are allowed into the gardens. If you do visit, be sure to check out the gardeners hut!

Wildlife: This is a great spot for birding. Listen out for the rhythmic tapping of the green woodpecker amongst the trees or the long-tailed tits that live by the river.

Beach in focus

Praa Sands is a long sandy beach backed by wildflower-covered cliffs and a small area of sand dunes.

Why we love it

With toilets, multiple car parks, a café and bins, as well as a reputedly-haunted ‘castle’ in the village, Praa has all the comforts you need to enjoy a day out with your dog. The sea here has a shallow entry so is perfect for the more cautious or for those who just want to dip their toes in!

DON’T FORGET – Many beaches now become dog friendly again from the beginning of October. Under the new ruling for 2020, lots of beaches were only off limits to dogs July and August, however others see their ban ending 30th September, including Crackington Haven, Sennen Beach, Widemouth Beach, Polzeath Beach and Porthminster Beach in St Ives, meaning you have even more freedom this year to enjoy our coastal areas with your dog. u

To check if your desired walking spot is dog friendly, head to cornwall.gov.uk for a full list of beach restrictions.

This article first appeared in Cornwall Life. For our latest subscription offers, click here

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