Ladock Woods

The walk passes through St Enoder Wood and then follows small lanes to Trendeal. From here a bridleway leads to the ruins of Bessigga and a footpath leads past the holy well to Ladock Church. After passing the pub at Ladock the final stretch is along a footpath leading back into Ladock Wood.
The bridleway at direction 12 becomes waterlogged after heavy rain so tall, waterproof boots are recommended when the ground is wet.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 105,106 (scan QR code on right to order from Amazon)
  • Distance: 4.9 miles/7.8 km
  • Grade: Moderate
  • Start from: Ladock Woods Car Park
  • Parking: Ladock Woods. Follow the B3275 into Ladock and turn opposite the Falmouth Arms. Follow the road uphill until you reach a junction to the right. Turn right down this and follow it until you reach a car park for the woods. Satnav: TR24NQ
  • Recommended footwear: Walking boots, or shoes in summer; wellies after wet weather

Maps for this walk

(dark blue corner = laminated version)

Highlights

  • A varied country walk through woodland and fields
  • Wildflowers in spring and early summer

Directions

  1. In the car park, make your way back towards the road but stop short of the exit and go through the pedestrian gap in the fence beside the post on the right (on the opposite side of the car park to the stile). Follow the path until you reach a junction of paths.

    Ladock woods are owned by the Duchy of Cornwall. During the 19th Century the woods were coppiced; by cutting the trees down to a stump and allowing them to regrow, straight poles of oak or ash could be produced. During the 20th Century, the woods were planted with conifers. From the mid-1980's, broadleaf species were introduced including cherry, chestnut, beech and lime. In 1997, the Duchy committed to forestry principles which rely, wherever possible, on nature to achieve sustainable and diverse woodlands.

  2. Keep left at the junction to continue ahead and follow the path to reach another junction of paths.

    For many centuries, it was traditional for landowning families to create trusts from the land and assets so future generations could live off the income, but were unable to dispose of the assets so these would be available for future generations. The Duchy estate is an example of this and was created in 1337 by Edward III to provide his son (and future Princes of Wales) with an income. Consequently, unlike other Royals, the Prince of Wales and his family are not paid for by the taxpayer via the Civil List; instead their living costs and all their charitable activities (such as The Prince's Trust) are funded by income from the Duchy estate.

    Only 13% of the Duchy land is in Cornwall; the rest is dotted over 23 other counties with some in London but most is in the South West of England, with nearly half on Dartmoor.

  3. Turn right at the junction and follow the path until it meets a track.

    Some of the most mature broadleaf trees in the woodland occur alongside the path here. Over time, more of the smaller broadleaf specimens will grow up to replace the conifers as they are gradually removed.

  4. Turn right onto the track and follow it to a crossing of tracks.

    Grey Squirrels were introduced to the UK from the USA in the late 19th Century and within decades they had replaced the native Red Squirrel in most parts of the country. Compared to Red Squirrels, Grey Squirrels are able to eat a wider diet (including acorns), are larger so can survive colder winters, and are better able to survive in the fragmented habitats created by urbanisation. They are also thought to be carriers of a squirrel pox virus which they usually recover from but has been fatal to Red Squirrels, although Red Squirrels are now also developing some immunity. As the Grey Squirrel is classified as an invasive species, it is illegal to release a captured animal into the wild but it is also illegal to kill it in a way that is deemed as causing "unnecessary suffering". This has resulted in members of the public being prosecuted for e.g. drowning a squirrel caught in a trap, believing they were doing the right thing. To date, culling of Grey Squirrels has not reversed their domination of woodland habitat and alternative approaches such as planting food with contraceptives are being explored as a means to control the population. The theory is that infertile squirrels can compete for food against fertile squirrels, whereas culling can create a glut of food resulting in a higher number of squirrels surviving which replace those that were exterminated.

  5. Turn left at the crossing and follow the track a short distance to a clearing where more tracks and paths lead off in various directions.
  6. Take the leftmost path from the clearing and follow this for about half a mile until you reach a crossing with paths leading either side between the blocks of trees.

    It is fairly well-known that conifer plantations support less biodiversity than native broadleaf woods but there are a number of different reasons for this. One is that many of the conifer species are introduced from abroad and the insects that normally accompany them in their native habitat are not present. Another factor is the commercial nature of plantations: some insect species which would live on the trees cause damage to the tree growth and are actively removed as pests. Similarly plants that compete with the newly-planted trees are removed to allow the commercial crop to succeed. Also the harvesting process means that dead trees do not fall to the forest floor and provide the rotting wood that a range of insects and fungi require.

  7. Turn left and follow the path to reach a crossing of paths.

    As the dense arrays of conifers are replaced by more randomly-arranged broadleaf trees, bushes such as holly can grow in the lighter areas, forming an understory.

    The association of holly with winter celebrations pre-dates Christianity: druids were known to use holly wreaths which, it is likely with some discomfort, they wore on their heads.

  8. Continue ahead at this crossing to another crossing of paths.
  9. Again continue ahead and follow the path until it reaches a small opening in the hedge on the right leading onto the lane, opposite a large barn set back from the road.
  10. Check for traffic and carefully descend onto the lane. Then turn right and follow the lane until you reach a junction on the right, opposite a signpost to Mitchell.
  11. Turn right and follow the lane for about one-and-a-quarter miles to reach a junction signposted to Summercourt and Newquay. Continue ahead (signposted to Ladock and Truro) until you reach a bridleway signpost for Bessigga.

    The settlement of Trendeal was first recorded in 1201 with the name Dintel. It is thought the dyn, meaning "fort", in the name may refer to an earthwork which may have once existed in the field on the right. The field was also recorded with the name "Castle Moor", which supports this.

    Trelassick was also recorded in mediaeval times, spelt Treloysech in 1279. It is thought that both settlements pre-date the Norman conquest as their names contain elements from the Cornish language that were used in place names from the early mediaeval period.

  12. Turn right down the track indicated by the bridleway sign and follow it to reach a waymarked stile and gate on the right.

    Although most primroses tend to be pale yellow, in residential areas, extensive hybridisation occurs with pink and purple garden primulas to create all kinds of weird and wonderful mutants, with some even shaped like cowslips. However there is a pale pink variety of primrose (known as rhubarb and custard) that is thought to be a naturally-occurring variant of the pale yellow (rhubarb-free) version as it has been found miles away from any domestic plants.

    During Victorian times, the building of railways allowed primrose flowers picked in the Westcountry to be on sale in London the next day. Picking was done on a large scale but eventually became unfashionable, being seen as environmentally destructive. However all the evidence gathered suggests as long as the flowers were picked and the plants were not dug up, the practice was sustainable.

  13. Go through the gate and cross the field to the gate in the trees ahead.

    There are nearly 400 miles of public bridleway in Cornwall, marked with blue waymarks, which are also open to horses and cyclists, although there is no obligation to make them navigable by any means other than on foot. The general public are also legally entitled to drove livestock along public bridleways, and although Cornwall has more than its share of eccentrics, this is something we've yet to see.

  14. Go through the gate and follow the path beneath the trees to a pedestrian gate ahead beside a waymark.

    Some estimates suggest the UK has up to half of the world's total bluebell population; nowhere else in the world do they grow in such abundance. However, the poor bluebell faces a number of threats including climate change and hybridisation from garden plants. In the past, there has also been large-scale unsustainable removal of bulbs for sale although it is now a criminal offence to remove the bulbs of wild bluebells with a fine up to £5,000 per bulb!

  15. Go through the gate and follow the right hedge of the field; on the far side of the field keep close to the hedge to follow the path into the trees and reach a pedestrian gate.
  16. Go through the gate and follow the path to reach a gate at a junction of tracks.

    Just before the gate are some overgrown remains of buildings on the left. These were stone-and-cob cottages in the settlement known as Bessigga which is reported as being abandoned in the 1960s and has since fallen into ruin.

  17. Go through the gate and bear left. Follow the track until it ends on a road.

    In 1802, the largest gold nugget at the time found in Cornwall was discovered in the tin streamworks on the River Ladock. It was made into a gold necklace which is now in Truro Museum. The necklace was presented to Sir Christopher Hawkins of Trewithen, who was a bachelor, which may explain why the necklace looks unworn. In 1808, a gold nugget of almost 2 ounces was found in the Carnon Valley which is also in the Truro museum.

  18. Carefully cross the road to the lane opposite. Follow the lane a short distance to a public footpath sign to Ladock church.
  19. Go through the iron kissing gate below the sign and follow along the right hedge of the field to the far side.

    Compared to many native trees, the beech colonised Great Britain relatively recently, after the last Ice Age around 10,000 years ago. Beech trees can live up to 400 years.

    Beechwood aging is used in the production of Budweiser beer but beech is not the source of flavour. In fact beechwood has a fairly neutral flavour and in the brewing process it is pre-treated with baking soda to remove even this. The relatively inert strips of wood are then added to the fermentation vessel where they increase the surface area available for yeast. It is the contact with yeast that produces the flavour in the beer, not the beech itself.

    The fruit of the beech tree is known as "mast" or, less crypically, "beechnuts". The small triangular nuts are encased in spiky husks which split and drop from the trees from late August to early October. The kernels of these are edible and are similar to hazelnuts. They were once used as a source of flour, which was ground after the tannins had been leached out by soaking them in water. If you find them too bitter, you might want to try this trick, although toasting them in a hot pan is also a good option.

    Young beech leaves can be used as a salad vegetable, which are described as being similar to a mild cabbage, though much softer in texture. Older leaves are a bit chewy, as you'd expect.

  20. On the far side of the field, keep right to join the grassy track. Follow the track ahead up the hill towards a barn, turning right in front of the barn to a gate.

    The wooden-fenced area beside the track contains the Holy Well.

    Ladock holy well, also known by its Cornish name Fentonladock, is associated with St Ladoca - an Irish Abbess who is recorded as coming to Cornwall in the 6th Century together with St Breage. The well house was built in the 19th Century but the arches set into the sides are from the 15th Century. In the early 19th Century, it was mentioned that there were the ruins of a mediaeval chapel nearby. It is not known if the arches were from this or were leftovers from the restoration of the church.

  21. Go through the gate and then head through the gate on your left into the churchyard. Continue ahead to reach a surfaced path and turn right onto this to follow it to a fork in front of the church.
  22. Keep left to pass the church on your right then turn right just before the wall to pass the church entrance and reach the main churchyard gate onto the lane.

    Ladock church is thought to be located on the site of a previous church which was built before Norman times. The current building dates originally from the 13th Century which was extended in the 15th Century, and during Victorian times there was a major restoration. The church sits within in a small churchtown consisting of a Rectory, School and Glebe Farm which is separated slightly from the main village.

  23. Turn right onto the lane and follow it between the bollards and down the hill to reach the road beside the pub.

    Ladock was first recorded in 1268 as Sante Ladoce. There was once a manor of Ladock which is recorded as being transferred between various landowning families, but there are no remains of any manor house. The pub dates back to 1620 and was known as the Old Temperance Inn during Victorian times, before becoming the Falmouth Arms.

  24. Cross the road to the lane opposite and follow this up the hill until you reach a national speed limit sign and continue until you reach a public footpath to Westgate.

    On the opposite side of the stream from Ladock was a separate settlement, known as Bissick. It was first recorded in 1275 as Batdek. During mediaeval times, Bissick was part of the estate of the Wolvedon family in Golden. By Elizabethan times, Bissick was recorded as having become an independent manor. The manor house, located on the right as you walk up the hill, is carved with the date 1503 and this is thought to be from when the house was first built.

  25. Turn right off the road onto the track and keep left along the track to reach a gate.
  26. Cross the waymarked stone stile to the left of the gate ahead and follow the path between the wall and fence to reach a pair of waymarked stiles.
  27. Cross the stiles and follow the path between the hedges and up some steps to a stone stile.
  28. Cross the stile at the top of the steps and continue, over another pair of wooden stiles, to reach a waymark at a junction of paths where the fence ends beside the woods.

    One challenge for regenerating woodlands is preventing invasive species such as rhododendrons from racing into the spaces left behind.

    Due to their spectacular flowers, Rhododendrons have been popular ornamental plants for over two centuries and the species that we now call the Common Rhododendron was introduced in 1763. The plants thrive in the UK climate and were once native but were wiped out by the last Ice Age.

    Rhododendrons are so successful in Britain that they have become an invasive species, crowding out other flora in the Atlantic oak woodlands. They are able to spread very quickly both through suckering along the ground and by abundant seed production. Conservation organisations now classify the Rhododendron explosion as a severe problem and various strategies have been explored to attempt to stop the spread. So far, the most effective method seems to be injecting herbicide into individual plants which is both more precise and effective than blanket cutting or spraying.

  29. At the waymark, continue ahead to reach a stile into the car park to complete the circular walk.

    Birds are much less affected by the tree species in the woodland than insects or fungi. One reason is that birds can travel some distance for their food but also that they are able to eat a broad range of foods whereas herbivorous insects are much more specialised. Some of the tall conifer trees provide good nesting sites for members of the crow family.

    Birds of the crow family are considered to be among the world's most intelligent animals, displaying a high learning ability and are able to use logic for solving problems. Researchers have found some crow species capable of not only tool use but also tool construction. Crows have also demonstrated the ability to distinguish individual humans apart by recognizing facial features. Ravens are considered the most intelligent species, outperforming chimpanzees in some tests.

Help us with this walk

You can help us to keep this walk as accurate as it possibly can be for others by spotting and feeding back any changes affecting the directions. We'd be very grateful if could you look out for the following:

  • Any stiles, gates or waymark posts referenced in the directions which are no longer there
  • Any stiles referenced in the directions that have been replaced with gates, or vice-versa

Take a photo and email contact@iwalkcornwall.co.uk, or message either IWalkCornwall on facebook or @iwalkc on twitter. If you have any tips for other walkers please let us know, or if you want to tell us that you enjoyed the walk, we'd love to hear that too.

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