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.


Vital statistics

  • OS Explorer: 104
  • Distance: 4.3 miles/7 km
  • Grade: Easy-moderate
  • Start from: the South Drive car park entrance
  • Parking: Tehidy South Drive car park TR140EZ. From the Tolvadden junction on the A30, follow the signs to Tehidy Country Park and park in the main car park.
  • 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, 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.

    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, though 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 decends 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 been used to make jellies as they contain pectin. However the seeds in hawthorn berries should be avoided as they 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) which were created in 1949 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 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 usually interspersed with ling or common heather which has much smaller flowers which are usually paler and pinker. 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 elaborate flowers.

  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. 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 negotiations.

  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.

    The name Celandine is thought to come from the Latin word for swallow. It is said that the flowers bloom when the birds return in spring and fade when they leave in autumn.

  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).

    Research suggest that Sycamore was common in Britain up to Roman times but then died out due to the warming climate apart from some mountainous regions such as in Scotland. During the Tudor period it is thought to have been reintroduced by landowners looking for a rapid-growing tree for their estates and was found to be salt-tolerant - essential in Cornwall. It has since spread widely as the seeds are extremely fertile and able to grow just about anywhere. In fact, in some areas it is regarded as an invasive weed. The timber was traditionally used for milk pails as it does not impart any flavour or colour. It is still used today for kitchenware and is recognisable by the light colour and fine grain.

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

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

    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. Robins are also able to see magnetic fields. Receptors in their eyes make magnetic fields appear as patterns of light or colour which allows them to use the Earth's magnetic field for navigation. The tradition of robins on Christmas cards is thought to arise from Victorian postmen wearing red jackets and been nicknamed Robins.

    The Cornish name for the bird is rudhek from rudh = "red" (in Cornish, "dh" is pronounced like the "th" in "with"). Cornish place names like Bedruthan, Ruthern and Redruth are all based on the colour red.

  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. 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.

    Golf developed in The Netherlands during the Middle Ages and was introduced into Scotland towards the end of this period where it evolved to its present form. The word golf is thought to be a Scots alteration of Dutch colf meaning "club". Golf is first documented in Scotland in a 1457 Act of the Scottish Parliament, prohibiting the playing of the games of gowf and futball as these were a distraction from archery practice.

  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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