Walk - Kilminorth Woods from Looe Station

4.0 miles (6.5 km)

Looe Station - PL13 1HP Looe Station

Moderate - Although there is some ascent and descent on this walk, only one short stretch of it is steep.

A stroll through one of the largest valley oaklands in Cornwall which is also a nature reserve teeming with wildlife, especially in spring, when blossom tumbles through the wild cherries and banks of primroses and bluebells are followed by wood anemones, wood sorrel and dog violets. Look out for herons and Canada geese on the water, and sparrowhawks and peregrines overhead. Songbirds trill from the ancient oaks, and woodpeckers can be heard drilling for insects. If you're lucky you might catch a glimpse of a roe deer, or a kingfisher. 

 

There are a range of wonderful places to lay your head near the Coast Path for a well-earned sleep. From large and luxurious hotels, to small and personable B&B's, as well as self-catering options and campsites. The businesses that support the Path, where you've chosen to visit, are listed here.

Camping Caradon Touring Park, Looe

Located halfway between the harbour towns of Looe and Polperro. 3.5 acres of level ground with excellent facilities.

Woodlands B&B, Looe

WOODLANDS is a lovely Victorian country house set on the edge of secluded woodland, overlooking the peaceful Looe river estuary.Within easy walking distance of Looe.

Hendersick Farm House

Traditional farmhouse B&B hospitality. Sea views, rambling gardens, footpath to the coast. All day kitchen facilities. Muddy boots welcome.

Treargel Retreats,near Looe

Treargel is the Cornish name for 'a home of retreat' and provides a sanctuary in nature for those needing to get away from it all.

Hannafore Point Hotel, West Looe

A Stunning hotel where a warm welcome awaits you from our attentive team, with great food and drink all in an area of outstanding natural beauty.

Great Kellow Farm, Lansallos near Polperro

Great Kellow Farm is situated above the beautiful village of Polperro. We are a quiet family & dog friendly campsite. The campsite has sea views and easy access to country and coastal walks.

The House on the Props B&B

The House on the Props is a 16th Century timber property with half of the building being 'propped' up over the river on old ships timbers.  We are in a very prominent position in Polperro, directly on the South West Coast Path.  We open daily from 9am and serve Breakfast, Lunch, Cream Teas, Home Made Cakes and Fresh Fish in the evening. We pride ourselves on serving Fresh Cornish produce when ever possible, and all our cakes pastries and scones are home made on the premises, as well as our main meals.

Windsworth, St Martin, Looe

Take a break to stay in an old stone longhouse, offgrid and in a nature reserve on the Cornish coast - with a discount for South West Coast Path walkers.

Interactive Elevation

Route Description

  1. From the railway station walk down Station Road to the bridge and cross the river to West Looe.
  2. Turning right on the path around the amusement arcade, go through the big car park beyond (Millpool car park) and make your way to the water's edge.
  3. Turn left (west) and carry on along the path by the river until you come to the gate at Kilminorth Woods.

Kilminorth Woods, together with Trenant Woods, across the water, forms one of the largest valley oaklands in Cornwall. The area has been continuously wooded for at least 400 years and Kilminmorth is classified as a semi-natural ancient woodland.

It is not described as a natural woodland, because coppicing took place for much of that time, artificially extending the life of the trees by many centuries. In coppicing, young trees are repeatedly chopped down, leaving a stump which produces thin branches to be harvested for brushwood, poles or firewood. In due course, when these branches are lopped, the process begins all over again. It keeps a tree in a juvenile condition, meaning that a regularly coppiced tree will never die.

Since coppicing is carried out in rotation through a woodland, the trees throughout are of many different ages, which provides a diversity of habitats for a wide range of species.

  1. You have a choice of routes through the woods to reach Watergate, at the far end: Choose the left-hand path for a woodland walk, taking in the Giant's Hedge.

The Giants Hedge is an earthen bank extending from Lerryn to Looe. It is thought to be from the Dark Ages, and was probably a boundary wall marking the territory of a local chief (see the Talland & the Giant's Hedge Walk). Stretches of it in Kilminorth Wood are as much as a metre high, and are still sturdy.

Alternatively, carry straight on ahead at the gate into the woods from Millpool, to follow the river bank past the old boatyard to Watergate.

The old boatyard stood on land reclaimed during the Second World War for this purpose, and it continued production until the 1990s, remaining an important source of employment in Looe.

The third choice of route might be to start out on the river path and then take a left-hand turn, further on through the woods, to turn right again on the top path through the trees and get the best of both worlds.

Kilminorth is a Local Nature Reserve, with an abundance of species through the year. Although the wood is predominantly sessile oak and birch, there are also beech and sycamore trees growing here, as well as sweet chestnut and the occasional Scots pine, and a holly understorey. In the spring there are banks of primroses and bluebells, followed by wood anemones, wood sorrel and dog violets. Blossom tumbles through the wild cherries, and in the summer honeysuckle twines through the undergrowth. Autumn brings edible berries to the bilberry bushes, and a profusion of fungi in the dark damp corners.

Many different mammals live among the trees, from tiny shrews and dormice all the way up to roe deer. Butterflies love it here, too. Look out for the white orange tip, the brown speckled wood, the holly blue and the silver-washed fritillary. You'll have to look even harder for the very rare "scarce merveille du jour" moth, which is found here, because with its mottled green-grey wings it is perfectly camouflaged against the lichen-clad trees! Other moths living here include hawk moths, swallowtails, and the peach blossom moth with its bold white spots.

Birds include predators like buzzards, sparrowhawks and sometimes peregrines, as well as owls. Nuthatches and various tits scamper around in the trees, as do squirrels, and green and greater spotted woodpeckers can be heard drilling in the bark for insects, while the liquid notes of birdsong from warblers, blackbirds and mistle thrushes mix with the gentle cooing of woodpigeons.

Many different species of waterbirds and wildfowl make their home on the creek, to be joined at various times of year by migrant visitors passing through. These include herons and Canada geese, as well as smaller birds such as shelduck, little grebes and dabchicks. The shrill calls of oystercatchers and curlews mingle with the cries of the gulls coming in from the sea, while further inland you may be lucky enough to glimpse the blue and orange flash of a kingfisher over the water.

  1. Reaching Watergate, turn left on the road and walk gently uphill to Kilminorth.
  2. At Kilminorth carry on past the turnings left and right, leading to buildings, until you come to the lane on your left at the right-hand bend.
  3. Turn left here on the footpath and follow it downhill and through the fields to the path which drops steeply through the woods.
  4. Turn right on the path at the bottom, and follow it back down through the woods to Millpool car park. Retrace your steps through West Looe to re-cross the bridge, and then turn left up Station Road to return to the station.

Public transport

Looe Valley Line services run year round Monday to Saturday. The line has a Sunday service in the summer. The Looe Valley Line links to the mainline at Liskeard which has connections from London, Bristol, Plymouth and many other places. For details of all train times and fares contact National Rail Enquiries on 08457 48 49 50 or visit Great Western Railway

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