We’ve visited the Godolphin gardens several times since discovering this charming estate in the middle of the countryside of west Cornwall, but never found the time to walk up the hill. Now we are living only a 15 minutes drive away we definitely have the time.
In spring you see delicate violets hunkering down amongst the yet to grow heather, and sweet white wood anemones aptly called wind flowers. And always accompanied by bird song, perhaps a willow warbler or yellow-hammer.
On a clear day the views are astounding. Panoramic views of Mount’s Bay on the south coast, St Ives Bay in the north and everything in between. The 360 degree view encompasses Mount’s Bay, the moorland hills of West Penwith, the Atlantic of the North Coast, the Cornish emblems of Carn Brea and St Agnes Beacon, the high plateau of the Lizard and neighbouring Tregonning Hill.
From the car park turn right up the farm track. Go past the farm buildings on your right and then turn left into a field across a granite ‘cattle grid’ stile.
At the other side of the field, cross another stile and turn right into The Slips. The name ‘slips’ crops up in may Cornish places, referring to narrow pieces of land like strip fields or stitches. In medieval times this lane passed through a strip field system. Its width is typical of moorland droving lanes used for moving cattle and sheep to and from summer grazing.
Continue through the gate and uphill passing fenced-off pits on the left and mine shafts protected by moss-covered stone walls. The shafts are around 400 years old and lesser horseshoe bats now live in them.
Following the path through a gateway onto a triangle of scrub-dotted land at the top of the Slips continue ahead until you reach the perimeter pathway.
When you reach the foot of the hill you’ll see a ‘legacy stone’ in front of you. We chose to take the longer route around the perimeter of the hill before approaching the summit, which is where your breath is taken away by the all round views – you’ll be heading towards Tregonning Hill topped by a distinctive war memorial and rich in archaeological remains.
The top of a chimney stack of Leeds Shaft appears above the pathway as you walk towards Tregonning Hill.
And the views behind are already pretty spectacular. The yellow fields are full of daffodils.
As you pass Leeds engine house and stack, just visible on your left between the two hills, look out for the path on the right which leads to the summit of Godolphin Hill. The path forking to the left down to Park Gate, an opening to the old deerpark. This wall is at least 400 years old and part of the boundary of the earliest deerpark at Godolphin.
Follow the winding path to the summit, taking care not to go straight ahead at the first bend. The landscape is scarred and pitted by centuries of human activity; beneath the gorse and heather lie the remains of ancient field systems, tinners’ pits, artificial warrens and Bronze Age huts. When you reach the summit the full panoramic views are revealed. Many of the hills viewed from here have prehistoric enclosures from the Neolithic period, 4000 – 3000BC: Carn Brea, Trencrom, Carn Galver and St Michael’s Mount.
From the top turn right and follow the winding path down towards the woods, the Slips and Godolphin House.
With the evening light casting shadows on the way back it was impossible not to take a few more shots of the Slips and the fields beside the lane. Granite walls and gate posts moss-covered and entwined by ivy.
Rabbits in the field to the left and cows on the right. This has to be a walk repeated during different seasons. A pleasant stroll up a hill which encapsulates everything that is good about a short walk.
If you enjoy a walk, long or short then please visit Jo’s Monday Walk where you will find walks from all around the world.