Wildlife in North Cornwall near Tintagel

Wildlife Sanctuaries and Nature Reserves in North Cornwall

Trebarwith Nature Reserve
Wildlife Trust Reserves
Trebarwith Nature Reserve
Trebarwith Nature Reserve
Stream in Trebarwith Valley
Stream in Trebarwith Valley
Steps down to the valley floor in Trebarwith Valley
Steps from the Stream
Path under beech trees at Golithia Falls in Cornwall
Golitha Falls
Robin at Golitha Falls
Robin at Golitha Falls
Bluebells at Golitha Falls
Bluebells at Golitha Falls
Golitha Falls
Waterfall at Golitha Falls
Violet at Golitha Falls
Violet at Golitha Falls

From the lane next to Park Farm, two footpaths run down to the valley floor and Trebarwith Nature Reserve (Cornwall Wildlife Trust). Within about half an hours's drive are the following nature reserves:

Nature reserves on Bodmin Moor

  • At the Golitha Falls National Nature Reserve, the River Fowey cascades through a pretty valley covered in a mixture of ancient woodland and a beech avenue. A circular path of about 1km runs around the reserve. There is also a shorter paved route of about 400m.

    In spring, the valley is carpeted with bluebells and in autumn, the trees are vivid colours. In summer, look out for woodland butterflies such as the orange and black silver-washed fritilliary; the males are attracted to orange items including car indicators and Sainsburys' carrier bags!

  • The Priddacomb Downs nature reserve is located on the north side of the A30 from the Jamaica Inn.. The reserve consists of over 200 acres of open moorland, with views of Brown Willy and Roughtor. It was acquired by Cornwall Wildlife Trust in 2001 and a less intensive grazing regime has allowed vegetation to re-establish, providing habitats for a variety of bird species. At the top of the downs is one of the best preserved examples of a Bronze Age platform cairn in the country.

  • The Loveny Reserve is an area of Bodmin Moor to the south of the A30. The nature reserve is an important ornithological site which includes Colliford Lake and surrounding moorland. It is jointly owned between the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Cornwall Birdwatching and Preservation Society.

  • Siblyback Lake is a lake located to the west of Minions. Siblyback is an artificial reservoir managed by the South West Lakes Trust and is used to buffer the water levels in the River Fowey in the summer. The water is collected downriver for domestic drinking water at the Restormel treatment works. The habitat that has been created by the reservoir supports plenty of bird life and there is a bird hide beside the reservoir though it's quite old so you are just as likely to find birds inside it.

  • Lavethan Wood lies just south of Blisland on the north-facing slopes of a river valley. Lavethan Wood is managed by the Woodland Trust and is designated a Planted Ancient Woodland Site and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Most of the wood stands on the sloping, freely draining, rich brown earths underlain with Devonian slates. Bluebells are prolific in the wood between April and June. Two public footpaths cross the wood and a permissive path along the stream links the two.

Nature reserves near Bodmin

  • Bodmin beacon (more info)
  • Hawke's Wood (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - situated on the south side of the Camel Valley between Wadebridge and Dunmere. Here there is an abandoned quarry in a mature woodland of predominantly Sessile Oak (also known as Welsh Oak - the acorns have no stalks).
  • Rosenannon Downs (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - over 250 acres of Woodland and heath support a wide range of habitats and species
  • Tregonetha - 110 acres of wet heathland and marshy grassland
  • Helman Tor, Breney Common and Red Moor (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - over 500 acres of wetland spreading from the slopes of Helman Tor
  • Cabilla and Redrice Woods (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - one of the largest and possibly finest ancient woodlands in Cornwall. 190 acres of mixed woodland with ancient oak and hazel coppice as well as river and wetland belts
  • Cardinham Forest contains over 250 hectares of mixed woodland set within a complex series of impressive steep valleys and narrow ravines. It is a wildlife refuge for deer, buzzard, otter and even kingfisher.

Nature reserves near Bude

  • The Millook Valley, above Millook Haven, contains an area of anciend woodland. The broad-leaved woodland is now owned by the Woodland Trust and is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest, an Ancient Woodland Site and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There are primroses in spring, wildflowers including orchids in summer and blackberries and sloes in autumn. Fauna includes dormice, otters and smooth snakes.

  • Bude Marshes is an area of wetlands located on the south-west edge of Bude, along the northern bank of the Bude Canal, not far along from the Visitor's Centre. The marshland is the fourth largest area of reed in the county and provides valuable habitat for wintering migrant and breeding birds.

  • Maer Lake - Owned jointly between the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and the Cornwall Birdwatching and Preservation Society - 25 acres of wetland meadow with open water provides an internationally acknowledged resting and feeding site for migrating birds. Note there is no access inside the reserve - viewing is strictly only from the private road above the reserve.
  • Lower Tamar Lake (South West Lakes Trust) was built by the Bude Canal Company in 1823 to act as the feeder reservoir for the Bude Canal System. Good for waterfowl and there is a bird hide here. A pair of Great Crested Grebe usually breed on the lake.
  • Phillips Point nature reserve is located on the seaward side of the Widemouth to Bude coast road. The small reserve is owned by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and is a good spot for seals. It has magnificent vertical and slumping high cliffs with spectacular views to Hartland Point and Widemouth on a clear day.

    Very close by is Upton Meadow (also Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - a small reserve on side of a steep valley above a small stream, alongside which a small woodland grows
  • Marsland Valley (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - two large, steep-sided valleys with mixed oak woodland, bracken slopes, traditional hay meadows, wildflower meadows and coastline covering over 450 acres.
  • Lower Lewdon (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - an 11 acre mosaic of culm grassland and woodland, crisscrossed with rides and paths containing the pretty, blue-flowered devil's-bit scabious, an essential food plant for the larvae of the rare marsh fritillary butterfly.
  • Greena Moor near Week St Mary (Cornwall Wildlife Trust) - culm grassland with some broadleaved woodland, scrub and streams. Jointly owned with Plantlife.

Nature reserves near Launceston

Birds in North Cornwall

Buzzard at Jeffrey's Pit near Trewarmett in North Cornwall
Buzzard at Jeffrey's Pit
Black backed gull
Black backed gull
Stonechat on the North Cornish coast path
Stonechat on the coast path

Birds of Prey

There are more than 20 breeding pairs of peregrine falcons along the coast from Bude to Padstow. In Spring and Autumn they can be seen doing aerial courtship displays. There is also good population of buzzards slightly inland from the coast around the wooded valleys.

Seabirds

The exposed coast in North Cornwall has plenty of rock ledges that make good nesting sites for seabirds. The stretch of coast between Tintagel and Boscastle has a number of offshore rock stacks which host seabird colonies. Guillimots and razorbills can be seen on The Sisters between Bossiney and Willapark near Tintagel, either from the coast path with a telescope/telephoto lens or by sea kayak from Boscastle. Fulmars can also sometimes be seen around this stretch of coast and also around Port Isaac. The best place to see puffins is The Rumps off Pentire Point near Lundy Bay.

Migrating birds

Swallows are very common in Cornwall, and usually can be seen (and heard) darting above most of the lanes and footpaths particularly where there are old barns such as the lane to Trenale from Park Farm and around Trebarwith Village and Trevalga.

The Camel Estuary is a good place to see migrating birds, being particularly good for wildfowl, waders and gulls. There is a hide alongside the Camel Trail near Wadebridge (in the Padstow direction).

Davidstow is another good place for migrating birds, particularly the disused WW2 airfield, Crowdy Reservior and the surrounding woods. There is a hide at Crowdy Reservior. There are often Nearctic waders in autumn and spectacular flocks of starlings around Davidstow in the winter.

Some other good spots are the Walmsley Sanctuary near Wadebridge, Maer Lake near Bude, Loveny at Colliford Reservior and Sibliback Lake on Bodmin Moor.

More information about birds

Marine wildlife in North Cornwall

Dolphin in Port Quin Bay
Dolphin in Port Quin Bay
Grey seal at Tintagel Castle
Seal at Tintagel Castle
Bass at Hole Beach near Tintagel
Bass at Hole Beach
Sunfish
Sunfish near Port Gaverne

Seals are not closely related to other marine mammals. In mediaeval times seals were classified as fish and could therefore be eaten during lent and on fridays and saturdays. However, as you might be able to guess from their features, seals are closely related to dogs, bears and otters. In fact, a dog is very much more closely related to a seal than a cat. The seal species most frequently seen along the Cornish coast are grey seals and common seals.

A good place to see seals is the large colony at Buckator cliff close to Beeny near Boscastle just south of The Strangles beach.

The rugged coastline of North Cornwall has some of the finest rockpools in the country. Some good places at low tide are: the right hand side of Trebarwith Strand, the left-hand side of Polzeath, the right-hand side of Daymer Bay, the left side of Crackington Haven, the left side of Port Gaverne and the left side of Lundy Bay. The rocky ridges along the sides of Widemouth and Sandymouth near Bude create large numbers of small rockpools.

If you go snorkelling you can see loads of marine life. You're pretty much guaranteed to see bass, pollock and wrasse in forests of kelp and on reefs rising up out of the blue. In Summer and early Autumn you may encounter mullet, garfish or shoals of mackerel. See our snorkelling section for some good places to go.

Sunfish can sometimes be seen on hot summer days basking on the surface. Sea kayaking is a good way to see them.

June and July are the best months to see basking sharks before migration takes them further north in August. Record numbers were spotted of the coast in 2009. Here is a video of someone swimming with basking sharks off Newquay at the end of June 2009.

A pod of dolphins has taken up residence in the area - boat trips on the Jubilee Queen from Padstow sometimes encounter them. Here's a video of them following the lifeboat out of Padstow.

More information about marine wildlife

Other wild animals around Tintagel

A fox in the Trebarwith Valley Nature Reserve
Fox in the Nature Reserve
Frog at Jeffrey's Pit
Frog at Jeffrey's Pit
Stoat on Trewarmett Downs
Stoat on the downs

On the opposite side of the road from Park Farm, a track runs up to Trewarmett Downs. This provides some great habitat which is rarely visited by people. Deer, foxes, stoats, weasels and badgers can often be seen on a walk and rabbits and butterflies are everywhere.

Just at the bottom of Trewarmett Hill are two old slate quarries. A wooded stream runs through Jeffrey's Pit which provides a habitat for aquatic wildlife. The slate tips at the nearby Prince of Wales are being recolonised by wildflowers. Patches of open ground between areas of cover make it a popular hunting spot for birds of prey particularly kestrels.

Minster church in Boscastle and surrounding countryside is the largest maternity roost of Greater Horseshoe bats in Cornwall with an estimated 200 individuals. They can be seen emerging just after sunset on Summer evenings.

Something you may not expect to encounter - North Cornwall has a naturalised population of stick insects.

More information

Wildlife sanctuaries in Cornwall

Otters at Tamar otter wildlife centre
Tamar otter wildlife centre
Seal at the National Seal Sanctuary
National seal sanctuary
  • Tamar Otter Wildlife Center near Launceston
  • The National Lobster Hatchery in Padstow are aiming to create a sustainable shellfish fishery in Cornwall by providing a predator-free environment for lobsters to grow past the zooplankton stage where they normally mostly perish. There is a Visitor Centre there where you can find out more about what they do and meet the lobsters.
  • The Cornish Birds of Prey centre near Newquay rescues many species of birds (article on BBC website).
  • The Blue Reef Aquarium in Newquay which includes a display of the fish and crustaceans you're likely to see if you go snorkelling in Cornwall. There is a nursery of baby fish, seahorses and cuttlefish where captive breeding programmes are being pioneered.
  • The National Seal Sanctuary in Gweek is a centre for the rescue, rehabilitation, and release of seals. Most seasons they rescue over 40 pups and occasionally the Sanctuary's facilities and expertise are called upon to aid in the rescue of other marine creatures such as Dolphins and Turtles. It is home for several different types of resident seal and sea lions who cannot be released into the wild and some otters. If you book online you can get a discount.
  • The Woolly Monkey Sanctuary near Looe is devoted to the continued care and management of the woolly monkey colony originally all rescued from zoos and the pet trade in the 1960s and 1970s.
  • Newquay Zoo specialises in captive breeding of endangered species.
  • Mousehole Wild Bird Hospital & Sanctuary is a sanctuary and hospital for approximately 1500 birds a year needing care with the aim of returning healed birds to the wild
  • The Tortoise Garden near St Austell is a sanctuary for the rescue, care and conservation of all breeds of Tortoises
  • Screech Owl Sanctuary set within the Goss Moor nature reserve near St Columb provide care and rehabilitation for sick and injured wild owls in Cornwall

More information about wildlife in North Cornwall