Lanhydrock to Respryn circular walk

Lanhydrock to Respryn

A circular walk through the mature broadleaf woodland in the less well-known areas of the Lanhydrock estate, through bluebell woods and along the River Fowey, past the mediaeval bridge at Respryn, built after numerous prayers for safe passage in the ford-side chapel, had not resulted in the desired outcome.

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The walk begins in the Lanhydrock main car park but follows paths away from the house into Hart Wood and through the broadleaf woodland to reach the horse and coach route from Lanhydrock to the railway station. The walk continues along the River Fowey to Respryn Bridge and follows the driveway to the gatehouse of the Lanhydrock park. From here the route turns through the Great Wood and follows the track towards Maudlin to return via the woodland gardens and Lanhydrock House.

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Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 107
  • Distance: 3.8 miles/6.1 km
  • Steepness grade: Easy-moderate
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes or trainers

OS maps for this walk

OS Explorer 107 OS Explorer 107 (laminated version)

Click or tap on map for more info (blue=laminated)


  • Pretty broadleaf woodland and riverside scenery
  • Birds, deer and aquatic wildlife
  • Fungi ranging from edible to surreal
  • Ornamental woodland garden with camellias and rhododendrons
  • Lanhydrock House set in immaculate formal gardens

Adjoining walks


  1. Facing the fence to the cricket ground, bear left to follow along the fence (in the direction indicated by Cycle Trail signs) to the information point at the top corner of the car park near the fence. Turn right and follow the orange arrows to the entrance to the Skills Area then keep right along the path through the trees until it ends at a red gate leading onto a lane.

    Amongst the broadleaf trees growing in Hart Wood are beech, which drop nut casings onto the forest floor in early autumn.

    The word "beech" is thought to have the same origins as "book" as beech (most probably the bark) was used as a writing material in which to carve runes by Germanic societies before the development of paper. This is still apparent in modern German where the word for "book" is buch and "beech tree" is buche.

  2. Go through the gate and turn left onto the lane. Walk a short distance to a crossroads and cross the road carefully to the track opposite. Follow the track until it splits three ways.

    The woodland has a lot of broadleaf trees which can produce some nice colours in the autumn.

    Autumn colours are the result of two processes. The first is that a normal healthy leaf contains chemicals which are both green (chlorophyll) and yellow (carotene). If chlorophyll stops being produced, leaves turn yellow. This happens when sunlight is reduced either temporarily (e.g. accidentally leaving something on the lawn) or in autumn when there is less sunlight overall and when cold temperatures also speed up the breakdown of chlorophyll. When a tree prepares to shed a leaf, it creates a barrier of cells to close the leaf off. Sugars produced from photosynthesis which normally flow back into the plant instead build up in the leaf and react with proteins in sap to form red anthrocyanin compounds. Sunny autumn days produce more sugars and result in more red leaves. Frost causes the leaves to drop off quickly so mild, sunny autumns produce the best colours.

    The growing conditions for trees varies from year to year (e.g. there might be a drought one summer). The "bad years" and "good years" are reflected in the widths of the rings. The pattern of good and bad summers is the same (more-or-less, depending of the location) for every tree so this forms a calendar - the known sequence of wide and narrow rings can be used to assign an exact year to each ring. This can also be done with dead and even fossil trees both to date them and get an idea of what the climate was doing at the time.

  3. Where the track splits, keep right and follow the woodland track until you reach a path departing from the right marked with a waymark post with a yellow arrow.

    The National Cycle Network is coordinated by the charity Sustrans. It began with one route in Bristol in 1984 and now consists of around 15,000 miles of signposted cycle routes known as National Cycle Routes. These each have a number and are constructed using a combination of roads typically chosen to have light traffic and some traffic-free tracks which are open to cycles.

  4. Turn right onto the path indicated by the yellow arrow on the waymark to the far side of it and follow this through the woods until you reach a cycle track crossing the path at some boulders and a post marked Hart Trail. Continue ahead on the path marked with a no cycles symbol and follow it until it ends at a red gate onto a lane.

    From Roman times, holly trees were planted near houses as it was believed to offer protection from witchcraft and lightning strikes. There is some scientific basis for the latter at least: the spines on the leaves can act as lightning conductors. The sharp points allow electrical charge to concentrate, increasing its potential to form a spark.

  5. Go through the gate onto the lane and turn left. Walk a short distance to a cycle path sign opposite another red gate on the right. Go through the gate and cross the cycle track to the path opposite. Follow the path along the stream until you reach a pair of footbridges by the river.

    The surfaced cycleway leading from Bodmin Parkway station to Station Lodge near Respryn Bridge was originally created in 1864 for a horse-drawn carriage to connect Lanhydrock with the railway. Known as Station Drive, the ornamental carriageway includes fantastic conifer specimens including giant and coastal redwoods, Douglas fir and Monterey pine.

  6. Cross the footbridge on the right and follow the path along the river to a gate.

    The Fowey is used as a conduit for the public water system to feed water from the Siblyback and Colliford reservoirs on Bodmin Moor down to Restormel where it enters the water mains. The increased demand for water from summer visitors has the effect of buffering the river levels in the drier months from the reservoirs.

  7. Go through the gate and follow the path to reach a gate into a grassy area containing a car park.

    Moles are solitary except when breeding so a network of tunnels is occupied by a single mole. Moles typically live for around 3 years and when a mole dies, its tunnel network is often inherited by one of its offspring. Thus the expanding estate can be passed down through several generations. In wetland areas where there is no gradient available to retreat uphill from rising water, moles construct a large mound protruding around half a metre above the ground to act as an emergency flood shelter.

  8. Go through the gate and bear right to a wooden walkway next to the large sign in the corner of the parking area.

    Respryn Bridge is a five-arched mediaeval bridge constructed of granite and rubble spanning the River Fowey at Lanhydrock. The central pointed arch dates from the 15th century; the other arches are more recent. Before this, there was a 13th Century bridge on the site. The place name indicates a ford was here before the bridge, on an ancient trackway between Bodmin and Looe. A chapel was also documented as being located by the river in the 12th Century. In the Middle Ages, chapels were quite common at fords, so the prospective crosser could pray that they were going to make it to the other side, or in the other direction (only, if successful!) give thanks for a safe passage.

  9. Follow the path over the bridge to reach the cycle path by a large tree. Turn left onto the cycle path and follow it past the lodge to reach a lane.

    National Cycle Route 3 runs 338 miles from Bristol to Land's End. The route is a mixture of lanes, byways and some tracks not open to road traffic including the upper section of the Camel Trail from Wenfordbridge to Dunmere.

  10. Cross the lane and follow the drive to reach a junction of tracks in front of the gatehouse.

    Lanhydrock lies just south of the A30 below Bodmin near Bodmin Parkway station. The Lanhydrock estate originally belonged to the Augustinian priory of St Petroc at Bodmin, but the Dissolution of the Monasteries during Tudor times saw it pass into private hands. It was bought in 1620 by wealthy merchant Sir Richard Robartes, who began building the house in 1630 but died only 4 years later. The building was finally completed in 1651 by his son and the estate remained in the Robartes Family until the 20th Century.

    The Robartes family declined significantly during the First World War, losing the heir who was killed during the Battle of Loos in France whilst trying to rescue a colleague from no-man's land. The estate passed to his younger brother, Francis, who became 7th Viscount Clifden. In the Second World War, the house was used to accommodate evacuees. After the war, in 1953, the house and approximately 400 acres of parkland were given to the National Trust by the ageing Viscount. On the death of his younger brother Arthur, the barony and viscountcy of Clifden and barony of Robartes became extinct. Only one descendant of the family survives, living in a cottage on the estate.

  11. Before the gatehouse, turn left and follow the track until you reach a wooden signpost at a junction of paths.

    Due to the steady flow of people buying cakes in National Trust cafés and consequent supply of crumbs, the robins around Lanhydrock are very tame. We encountered a cheeky one in the kitchens pecking at the bread displays for Christmas.

    Robins are able to hover like kingfishers and hummingbirds and use this skill when feeding from bird feeders, which they are unable to cling to.

  12. Follow the track leading ahead to the right of the wooden gate (marked with a red arrow on the left once you join it) and follow this until it forks.

    To your right is the Great Wood of Lanhydrock.

    The Great Wood alongside the parkland at Lanhydrock has been designated as an Important Plant Area by the organisation Plantlife for its ancient woodland and lichens. Trees include beech, oak, sycamore, ash, sweet chestnut, holly and a number of Scots Pine. Since the clearance of invasive Rhododendrons from the Great Wood, fantastic displays of bluebells can be seen in the spring. Lanhydrock is also home to kingfishers, dormice and 12 species of bat.

  13. Keep right at the fork and head to the gateway ahead at a bend in the track.

    Honey made with rhododendron pollen can be poisonous to humans, causing severe low blood pressure and low heart rate if enough is eaten. Rhododendron honey is used in Nepal as a hallucinogenic drug.

  14. Go through the left of the two gates (the one ahead) and follow the track across the field and into the woods until you reach a path departing from the left.

    Tannins are natural preservatives. The reason why red wine keeps much longer than white is that the grape skins that give the red colour also contain tannins. Oak leaves, wood and acorns all contain a high level of tannins. When wine is aged in oak, the wooden barrels release more preservative tannins into their contents.

  15. Keep right to stay on the main track and follow this until you reach a wooden signpost to Lanhydrock House and Respryn river walks.

    The track ahead continues until it eventually reaches the gatehouse at Maudlin, passing the mineshafts of Maudlin mine, now concealed in the woodland.

    The mine at Maudlin was described in 1860:

    36 men, 2 females, and 4 boys employed: total 42. Mineral Owner, Duke of Cornwall. Dues, 1-20th. Depth of adit, 30 fathoms. Depth under adit, 70 fathoms. Workings commenced in 1851. Pumping-engine 36-inch. A water-wheel, 32 feet diameter and 3 feet 4 inches wide, draws up the stuff and stamps it. A good discovery has just been made, and the prospects of this mine are very favourable.
    The works are of very ancient origin, and produced large quantities of copper and tin, principally copper, from huge deposits in connection with the carbona, under large deposits of gossan. These mineral deposits, in their turn, became unbottomed by a second appearance of large deposits of gossan; in sinking through which, to reach the metallic minerals below, the present adventure is being carried on. While sinking through the gossan the returns of minerals are inconsiderable, and expected so to continue until the gossan is again unbottomed.

    ("gossan" is mining jargon for an oxidised area of the mineral lode; "carbona" is a deposit of ore)

  16. Turn right in the direction signposted to Lanhydrock House and follow the track until you reach a junction with a pair of granite gateposts on your left and an orange waymark pointing ahead.

    The woods around Lanhydrock provide cover for deer, which you're most likely to see at quiet times when there are no people or dogs around.

    Red and Roe deer are the two truly native species of the six found in the UK and both have pointy, branching (rugose) antlers. The Red deer is the largest of the species and has a characteristic large white V on its backside whereas the Roe deer just has a small white patch.

    The fallow deer was introduced by the Normans and has flat, elk-like (palmate) antlers and an inverted black horseshoe surrounding a white patch on its rear end.

    In the late 19th and early 20th Centuries, three "exotic" Asian species (munjac, sika and Chinese water deer) were introduced. These all have quite rounded ears whereas the European species all have pointy "elf-like" ears.

    Roe deer, Fallow deer and Red deer are all present in Cornwall and the populations of all three species has increased substantially over the past decade, possibly by as much as a factor of ten. There are also a small number of munjac deer, but far fewer than in the rest of England.

  17. Continue ahead in the direction of the orange arrow until you pass alongside Garden Cottage. Continue a short distance further to reach a junction in the track, just past the cottage.

    The Roe Deer is unusual among hoofed animals as the egg is fertilised at the time of mating but then goes into suspended animation for several months - a process known as delayed implantation. This mechanism means that instead of being born in late winter, the young are born in early summer when food is more plentiful.

    In most species with delayed implantation, the mother sends out a hormonal signal to tell the embryo to wake up. However in the case of the Roe Deer, the embryo has a built-in egg timer which sends a chemical message back to the mother that it's time to resume the pregnancy.

  18. Continue ahead from the junction and follow the track through the woodland gardens until it ends at a wooden gate.

    The garden's design relates to the Victorian restoration of the house. It was laid out along mid-19th century lines by George Truefitt, to complement the style of the house and to provide a pleasure ground for the family. The formal gardens include an enclosed forecourt with topiary, based on rows of Irish yews and box-edged rose beds, a parterre also hedged with box and a herbaceous garden enclosed in a circular yew hedge. The picturesque woodland gardens, leading from the formal gardens to the Great Wood, specialise in magnolias, camellias and rhododendrons.

  19. Go through the gate. The Stables café and toilets are through the pedestrian entrance to the left. To continue the walk, bear right to reach the gatehouse at the main entrance to the house.

    National Trust cafés serve around 4.5 million cups of tea per year which is enough to fill an Olympic swimming pool.

  20. Continue uphill, joining the path that runs alongside the track to reach the ticket office and pass this to reach a pedestrian gate leading onto the lane.

    The first version of the house at Lanhydrock , completed in 1651, had a 4 sided layout around a central courtyard. During the first half of the 18th Century, it was neglected and by 1750 in so much disrepair that demolition was seriously being considered to recover some money in salvage and building materials. In 1780, some restoration and remodelling occurred which included demolition of the East Wing to create the U shape. After this, there was another period of slow decline. Then in the mid 1800s, the house underwent a major rework. Not long after this, in 1881, a fire destroyed the south wing and caused major damage to the central section. After this, the house was rebuilt with the exterior in the style of the original building and the Victorian interior was reconstructed, with the addition of kitchens behind the south wing.

  21. Go through the gate and cross the lane to the path opposite. Follow this to the junction with a sign for disabled parking to the right. You can either turn right here to return straight to the car park or continue ahead to go via the Park café and toilets.

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