Tehidy Woods to Deadman's Cove

A circular walk through the wildlife reserve and bluebell woodland of Tehidy Country Park to Deadman's Cove and the North Cliffs where many sailing ships were wrecked before the Godrevy Lighthouse was built.

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The walk begins through the Tehidy Country Park wildlife area with its famously tame squirrels. The route follows the river through Tehidy Woods to Coombe and then crosses the Reskajeage Downs to reach the North Cliffs near Deadman's Cove. The walk then follows the coast path along the top of the steep cliffs to Basset's Cove. Here the walk re-enters Tehidy Country Park, passing through the bluebell woods of the North Cliffs Plantation to complete the circular route.


  • Route includes paths close to unfenced cliff edges.

Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 104
  • Distance: 4.3 miles/7 km
  • Grade: Easy-moderate
  • Recommended footwear: walking shoes, or trainers in summer

OS maps for this walk

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


  • Lakes and river cascades through the Country Park
  • Wildlife including birds, butterflies and very tame squirrels
  • Rugged coastal scenery along the North Cliffs
  • Bluebells in spring in the North Woods Plantation
  • Autumn colours in Tehidy Woods


  1. Go through the Tehidy Country Park South Drive entrance and turn left into the wildlife area. Follow the path over two bridges to a junction, with another bridge to the right.

    The manor of Tehidy was owned by the Basset family from Norman times until 1916. During the 1700s, the family became very wealthy from copper mining and a mansion was built in 1734, set in extensive grounds with a lake. During the 18th and 19th centuries, the manor was frequented by the gentry and inventors of mining technology. Shortly after the manor was sold, it was converted to a hospital which was devastated by a fire just two weeks after opening. In 1983, the grounds were purchased by Cornwall Council and were developed as a Country Park which is now the largest area of woodland in West Cornwall.

  2. Turn left at the junction (away from the bridge) and follow the path until you reach a waymark where a path leads to the edge of the lake.

    The waterfowl and squirrels here are exceptionally tame due to being fed by park visitors. Feeding bread to waterfowl is actually really bad for them. The birds become hooked on "junk food" and stop foraging for their natural foods which causes them to become malnourished and can lead to wing deformities and disease.

  3. Turn right and follow the path alongside the lake until you reach a junction of paths by a stone footbridge.

    Swans usually mate for life, although "divorce" can sometimes occur if there is a nesting failure. The birds can live for over 20 years but in the 20th Century many swans were found to be suffering from lead poisoning. This was tracked down to the tiny "lead shot" weights used for fishing that swans would hoover up with weed and roots from the bottom of rivers and lakes. Since the introduction of non-toxic metals for making fishing weights, incidents of poisoning have disappeared and the swan population is now even growing very slightly.

  4. Follow the path ahead, alongside the river, to reach a bridge.

    The stream running through the Tehidy Country Park was heavily canalised and widely diverted during the late 19th and early 20th Centuries. This was to feed a series of "streamworks" to extract alluvial tin. In Oak Wood, the various banks and river channels are thought to be the remains of a large stream-working operation.

  5. Cross the larger path which goes over the bridge and continue ahead on the path alongside the river until another path merges from the left, at a bench.

    As well as forgetting where they buried some of them, squirrels may also lose a quarter of their buried food to birds, other rodents and fellow squirrels. Squirrels therefore use dummy tactics to confuse thieves by sometimes just pretending to bury a nut.

  6. Continue ahead on the path until it ends at a T-junction of paths, opposite a signpost.

    Some of the tallest trees in the woodland are beech.

    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.

  7. Turn right in the direction of Kennels Hill and cross Otter Bridge; follow the path to another signpost.

    The bridge is named after the otters that lived along the river here. There are reports of otter sightings in the park in relatively recent times, although they are likely to lie low when there are people and dogs around.

    The otter's semi-aquatic nature has been well known since ancient times, in fact the words "otter" and "water" both derive from the same original word. It has been reported that Bodmin Moor acts as an interchange for commuting otters as the rivers Camel, Delank, Fowey and Inny all have sources or tributaries in a quite a small area.

    During the 1960s, the otter population crashed in the UK due to the widespread use of pesticides such as DDT which leached into the waterways and poisoned the otters. However, due to predominance of dairy farming in Cornwall during this period rather than the more pesticide-reliant arable, the county remained an otter stronghold. The Tamar Otter Sanctuary near the Devon border was a key part of the otter conservation movement which has been a remarkable success. It is thought that otters have now re-colonised all the areas in the UK that they were wiped out from during the 20th Century.

  8. Turn left at the signpost, in the direction of West Drive to Coombe, and follow the path to a waymark where a path descends from above.
  9. Continue ahead at the waymark and follow the bridleway all the way through the woods to emerge on a driveway, and follow this to reach a lane.

    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.

  10. Turn right onto the lane and follow it for about 100 metres, past Coombe Park, to reach a public footpath sign on the right, with a pedestrian gate.

    The Cornish language has at least 8 different words for "valley".

    • nans - valley
    • golans - small valley
    • haunans - deep valley with steep sides
    • keynans - ravine
    • glyn - large deep valley
    • deveren - river valley
    • coom - valley of a tributary or small stream
    • tenow - valley floor
  11. Turn right through the gate marked with the public footpath sign and follow the path uphill until you reach a sequence of 2 gates.

    Hawthorn berries have traditionally been used to make fruit jellies as they contain pectin and have an apple-like flavour. A reason for making seedless jellies is that the seeds in hawthorn berries contain a compound called amygdalin, which is cyanide bonded with sugar. In the gut this is converted to hydrogen cyanide.

  12. Go through both gates and continue along the path to another similar sequence of 2 gates.

    In August, blackberries start to ripen on brambles.

    Blackberries are high in vitamin C, K and antioxidants. The seeds, despite being a bit crunchy, contain omega-3 and -6 fatty acids and further enhance blackberries' "superfood" status.

  13. Again go through the gates and follow the path until it ends at a low stone stile onto the road.

    The coast between Godrevy and Portreath is designated an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

    There are 33 regions in England designated Areas Of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB) many of which were created at the same time as the National Parks. In fact the AONB status is very similar to that of National Parks.

    There is a single Cornwall AONB which was established in 1959 and is itself subdivided into 12 sections. 11 of these are stretches of the coastline and the 12th is Bodmin Moor.

  14. Carefully cross the road to the track opposite (marked with a National Trust North Cliffs sign) and follow it to a short waymark by the coast.

    Several varieties of heather grow in Cornwall and are most easily recognised when they flower from July to September. The one with the most brightly coloured (purple) flowers is known as bell heather due to the bell-shaped flowers. This is the earliest one to start flowering - normally in June. Bell heather is usually interspersed with ling or common heather which has much smaller flowers which are usually paler and pinker and come out at the start of July. A third kind known as cross-leafed heath is less abundant but can be recognised by the pale pink bell-shaped flowers that grow only near the tips of the stems, resembling pink lollipops. A fourth species known as Cornish heath grows only on the Lizard and has more elaborate flowers which are mostly pale with a dark purple crown at the front.

    Project Neptune was started by the National Trust in 1965 to purchase and protect large portions of the British coastline. By 1973 it had achieved its target of raising £2 million and 338 miles of coastline were looked-after. The project was so successful that it is still running although mainly focused on maintenance. There is still an occasional opportunity when privately-owned coastal land is sold. A particularly notable one was in 2016 when the land at Trevose Head was put up for sale and successfully purchased by the National Trust.

  15. Turn right at the waymark and follow the coast path to a gate.

    At the bottom of North Cliffs between Portreath and Godrevy Point are a pair of beaches to which narrow, steep paths run from the clifftop. Due to their north-facing aspect, the beaches are often in the shadow of the cliffs. The one with a sandy shoreline is known as Greenbank Cove and the neighbouring beach where the surf breaks onto rocks is known by the somewhat swashbuckling name of Deadman's Cove.

  16. Go through the pair of gates and follow the path along the edge of the field until you reach a gate at the fence at the far end of the field.

    Cornwall bounces by around 4 inches every time the tide goes in and out. As the tide rises, the extra weight of water on the continental shelf deforms the Earth's crust; as the tide goes out, it springs back. The tidal range is greatest on the southwestern side of the British Isles and so Cornwall is one of the bounciest places in Britain.

  17. Go through the gate and follow the path along the edge of the scrub to reach a kissing gate.

    At the end of the promontory is a pair of 2-metre-high banks and ditches, which are the remains of an Iron-Age fort known as Crane Castle. Much of the land that it was on has since collapsed into the sea.

    Promontory forts are only found in the South West of England and are thought to be introduced from Brittany due to the strong links of between the Celtic communities. Although many do contain the foundations of Iron-Age roundhouses, it is thought unlikely that the wind-beaten areas on clifftops were permanent residences. Although the initial assumption was that the ramparts were purely functional and for defence, another possibility is that the ramparts were used as a status symbol, making a statement about the power and importance of the owners. If this were the case, the locations could have been used for a range of functions including religious, social, or trade.

  18. Go through the kissing gate and follow the path ahead to reach a waymark at the edge of a car parking area.

    During Tudor times - in the late 1570s, four hogshead barrels washed up on the beach at Portreath. Much to delight of the inhabitants of Portreath, each of these was found to contain around 60 gallons of French wine. More wreckage washed up along the North Cliffs and below the Carvannel Downs including a ship's mast, from which it was identified as from a cargo ship from Gascony. It is thought that it may have foundered in rough seas off Portreath; possibly its cargo of wine had shifted.

  19. Turn right at the waymark and follow the track in the direction of the red arrow to the road.

    Public byways are rights of way down which motor vehicles may be driven depending on how brave you are and how expensive your car is to fix. You are also permitted to use a horse-drawn carriage, should you own one. Byways tend to be surfaced in an ad-hoc manner either with gravel or occasionally with a smattering of tarmac, but still leaving plenty of room for a good crop of grass to grow down the centre. They are conventionally marked using red waymarks or a "Public Byway" sign. There are 130 miles of byways in Cornwall.

  20. Carefully cross the road and turn right. Walk along the verge to the Tehidy signs.
  21. Turn left and follow the track to a gate at the far side of the car park.
  22. Follow the path around the gate and continue ahead for a few paces to reach a North Cliffs Circular Walk sign on the left.
  23. Turn left through the gap in the wall just after the sign and follow the path to a bench. Keep left at the bench and continue keeping left on the main path until it ends in a junction opposite another North Cliffs Circular Walk sign.

    In early spring, the yellow flowers of lesser celandine carpet the woodland.

    Celandine roots have numerous knobbly tubers and when these break off, a new plant can regrow from the tuber. Digging animals such as rabbits and squirrels can therefore help to spread celandines. In some parts of the world they have become an invasive problem where their dense mat of leaves chokes out native species which have not evolved to compete with them.

    Most of a large tree's trunk is actually made of dead wood known as "heartwood". Only the outer layers (known as sapwood) are actually active. The sapwood transport water and minerals up the tree from the roots to the leaves. The sapwood next to the heartwood gradually fills up with resin and then dies to create another strong layer heartwood which supports the increasing weight of the tree.

  24. When you reach the sign, turn right and then stay on the main path, following it until it forks (with the left path leading between 2 huge green bushes).

    Sycamore flowers are pollinated by flies such as bluebottles rather than the wind. Within the female flower, two of the carpels (reproductive parts) are fused together. These develop into the pair of fused seeds with their "wings" at an angle. When the seeds fall, this creates the "helicopter" action that allows the seeds to be caught and carried by the wind as they slowly spiral downwards.

  25. Keep right at the fork and follow the path past a junction opposite a waymark to the right to a junction with a path to the left.

    The beech woodland of the North Cliffs plantation has an impressive display of bluebells in the spring. Along the edges of the woods, strong, salt-laden winds have stunted the trees and made them bend away from the prevailing south westerly winds. The woods also include exotic tree species such as a huge monkey puzzle tree and Japanese maples which were planted around 200 years ago as part of the formal gardens.

  26. At the junction, turn left and follow the path until you reach another waymark at a junction of paths.

    Bluebells come into flower here in April, peaking at the start of May.

    Bluebells are extremely poisonous, containing a number of biologically-active compounds and were used (probably with varying success) in mediaeval plant medicine. The sap was used as a glue for book-binding as its toxicity repelled insects. It was also used to attach the fletchings onto arrows.

    The formation of most of the world's coal deposits from wood occurred during a single geological period suitably-named the Carboniferous. It was postulated that this might be because white rot hadn't evolved by then so dead wood just accumulated. However, it's now thought more likely to be due to the formation of particularly deep swamps from the crust-buckling collisions of tectonic plates in this period which allowed wood both to accumulate in a low-oxygen environment and then be compressed into coal.

  27. At the waymark, bear right then keep left along the major path to reach a signpost.

    One of the birds you may encounter in the woodland is the robin.

    The tradition of robins on Christmas cards is thought to arise from Victorian postmen wearing red jackets and been nicknamed Robins.

  28. At the signpost, continue ahead in the direction marked "South Drive" to reach a gate.

    There are two types of ivy leaf. Those on creeping stems are the classic ivy leaf shape with 3-5 triangular lobes - they grow towards shade to find a tree to climb up. However, more mature ivy plants grow aerial shoots with a completely different (teardrop) leaf shape. These are the shoots that bear the flowers and fruits and are typically located in a sunny spot such as on an upright ivy bush or top of a rock face. The reason for the different shapes is that the larger, multi-lobed leaves are able to catch more light in shady areas whereas the smaller, stouter leaves are more resistant to drying out.

  29. Go through the kissing gate next to the gate and follow the lane ahead until you reach a path marked "Footpath to Country Park", just past a junction on the right.

    Listen out for "fore": any stray golf balls will be from the left.

    In mediaeval times, golf balls were made from wood. In the 17th Century, the "featherie" was created, made from leather and stuffed with feathers. In the mid-1800s balls moulded from sap were the first to be mass-produced. They could also be heated and re-cast if they went out of shape from being hit. However people noticed that battle-scarred balls that had been used a long time seemed to fly more consistently. Golf ball manufacturers began etching different protrusions on the surfaces in attempts to improve the aerodynamics. The potential of a ball of elastic bands was discovered by a bored golfer waiting for their friend to finish work and by the 1890s, these formed these were being coated in sap to make golf balls. In the early 1900s, it was found that indentations (rather than protrusions) on the surface resulted in better aerodynamics.

  30. Turn right down the path marked "Country Park" and follow this to a signpost.

    It is recorded in Flora Britannica that up until the 1980s: "From the woods at Tehidy, gypsies used to gather daffs to sell in Camborne outside Woolworths on a Saturday morning".

  31. Turn left at the signpost to reach the car park.

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

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