I’ve watched the bluebells spring up around the country lanes of Cornwall this week and I spotted the first House Martin, back from its long migration to Africa. These twin augers were enough for me to feel spring was at its peek and summer fast approaching and I knew it was time to visit the fabulous swathes of bluebells in the National Trust’s Godolphin estates ancient woodlands and maybe climb to the summit of Godolphin hill to see the landscape of West Penwith stretched panoramically below me.
Our visit to Godolphin’s ancient woodland
We found the peaceful car park on the edge of the estate and as Charles had elected to park with a very good book, I set off alone along the path and quickly found a Robin sitting on the riven wooden fence dissecting a flower strewn meadow and lazy stream, before turning into the woods alive with drifts of Bluebells.
The Bluebell woods at Godolphin Estate
On this sunny spring afternoon the cool pure air was a delight in itself in a way that only a woodland habitat can be. There is something captivating about walking through the towering trees high overhead; so magnificent and yet humbling in their stature, with the heady mix of the dappled sunlight laced with the lightest scent of the eternally beautiful bluebell on the forest floor below.
The National Trust were not taking any chances with their fabulous bluebell display and the flowers were politely guarded by swags of ropes, although when I returned later I saw a mother ushering her child under them into the woods – obviously they weren’t meant for them!
Godolphin hill has always fascinated me – as a teenager in Cornwall it was impossible to access, although I would often ride my pony across adjacent Tregoning Hill with its Iron Age Hill fort but Godolphin Hill remained strictly out of bounds.
All of that has changed these days now since the National trust have opened up the heathland and so I walked on through the woodland emerging beside the ticket office to cross the lane on the footpath with the atmospheric old Godolphin Manor house to my left. The path climbs gently uphill through the pasture land onto the next drove and I turned right following deep moss covered Cornish banks to eventually to reach a trio of gates. After a few moment thought I chose the far right hand tall slatted one and followed another ancient driveway falling into step for a while, with a lady juggling a Labrador on a lead and camera tripod, until the path gave way to the heathland marked by a knurled tree twisted by time and wind.
The path turned left or right with a centre on climbing straight ahead – slightly boggy at first it soon settled to be a traditional moorland path with the boulders never far from the surface making handy steps thought the climb flanked by wild flowers. Occasionally as I walked, I met a stunted tree along the route or heard the Buzzards shrill high call far above me, as the countryside slipped away below me to a model landscape intermittently shaded by the flying clouds that flirted around its edges.
The first sight of the sea on the north coast is always exciting
– pure blue joy and then the southern coast to the other side
until I arrived at the summit and stood mesmerised by the twin landmarks of The Island at St Ives and St Michael’s Mount so far below me beyond the tapestry of fields and woodland. I tried to take a little video to show you and was buffeted unexpectedly by the wind – at one point sending the picture dancing but I think you can see the idea.
Time to hurry back to the car with the parking meter ticking and I left the hillside using long strides over the sure gritty surface, easily covering the ground down the hill again. This time I started to see larger knots of people whole families groups, perspiring in the suddenly warm sunshine festooned with sweat shirt excited and intent on their own adventure around the Godolphin estate.
As the heathland gave way to the gentler farmland below and I again walked the broad ride I could help but think how proud the Schofeild must have been, the man who made his fortune in South African mines and returned to buy the estate where he had grown up.
I returned again through the woods, alive with photographers now, crouching with impossibly long lenses beside the vibrant bluebells and met my familiar robin again, sitting on the fence, with a beak full of grubs for his nestling and waiting for a break in the passing walkers. As we turned out of the gate Charles suddenly suggested “Shall we go and see the frescos in Breage church and so our adventure continued but I think that tale will be in next week’s blog!
Godolphin House and Estate is now owned by the National Trust with an early Manor house once one of the most prestigious in Cornwall and an important early Medieval garden, considered one of the most import early gardens in Europe (currently undergoing restoration)
The wider estate reflects the wealth made from the mining industry with beautiful landscaping encompassed by estate walls built by prisoners’ from the Napoleonic wars.
Godolphin opens in four different elements: – House, Gardens Outbuildings and Estate and dates are best checked against the diary on the National Trust’s own website.
Commencing on the 1st of May, there will be guided Bluebell walks and talks coming up but do check their website for full details