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Muddy Walks: Kennall Vale Nature Reserve

My new favourite walk! Rushing streams and historic ruins cast a spell on this woodland nature reserve.

Kennall Vale nature reserve, Ponsanooth, Cornwall

I’ll probably get a ticking off for this one but I’m going to share it anyway. I went for a gorgeous walk with a friend in Ponsanooth (meaning ‘bridge at the stream’) this week, at Kennall Vale Nature Reserve.  At the end of the walk she said, “you’re not going to put this on Muddy are you?”

Sorr-eeee – but the people deserve to see this special place. I loved it so much, I went back again the next day!

Kennall Vale nature reserve, Ponsanooth, Cornwall

Where? The village of Ponsanooth, lies in a idyllic Cornish valley about 2-3 miles north of Penryn on the Falmouth to Redruth road and the magical woodland nature reserve, Kennall Vale is the site of a historic gunpowder works.

Parking: You enter the nature reserve off Cot Hill but parking on the actual hill isn’t really allowed (a rule that was flouted by most on Saturday). Not one for ignoring polite notices, I parked on a little estate of bungalows, also called Kennall Vale and walked up Cot Hill to the reserve.

Kennall Vale nature reserve, Ponsanooth, Cornwall

Historic woodland: In 1812 a gunpowder works was established here to serve the Cornish mining industry. The sheltered valley and trees provided a safe environment for risky industry and the river provided vital power. Ruins of the granite buildings and mills, reclaimed by nature, are scattered throughout the woodland and along the river banks, giving a magical glimpse of the past and forming part of the Cornish Mining World Heritage Site.

Kennall Vale nature reserve, Ponsanooth, Cornwall

Kid-friendly: Our children loved running ahead and playing hide and seek in the more open ruins as well as paddling in the shallow parts of the river. There was none of the cajoling it usually takes to keep the mudlets walking for an hour around the circular route, as they rushed from one discovery to another through the woods.

Kennall Vale nature reserve, Ponsanooth, Cornwall

Bring the dog! It’s a very popular spot for local dog walkers too and the sort of place you will want to linger. It’s a fairly short and mellow walk along the main path but the few people we saw were pausing frequently to take it all. Worth bringing along a sarnie – or hip-flask – for the purpose.

When to visit:

Kennall Vale Nature Reserve is stunning in autumn but definitely worth a return visit in spring for the bluebells too.


I know what you’re thinking… this is all well and good but where is the nearest pub? The Stag Hunt Inn in Ponsanooth, the closest pub to Kennall Vale, is a popular local, serving a good selection of ales and a specialty curry menu. If you don’t mind a short drive, The Pandora Inn on beautiful Restronguet Creek is not far. Perfect if you have dogs and kids in tow, they have tables on the jetty, where the children can do some crabbing, while you sink a beer or two and enjoy the scenery



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