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Golitha Falls

golitha falls

Admire Cascading Waterfalls at Golitha Falls

Just outside Launceston, stunnning Golitha Falls are among a gorgeous oak woodland gorge laced with sparkling waterways and graced by gushing waterfalls. The relaxing riverside trails make an easy day out strolling, paddling or picnicking along the tumbling River Fowey surrounded by flourishing flora.

Along with its cascades and babbling brooks, Golitha’s ancient trees shrouded in mystical folklore promise adventure and intrigue for families. Here’s how to enjoy magical waterfalls and more on a family day out at Golitha Falls in Cornwall.

golitha falls draynes bridge

Getting There

Golitha Falls lies just south of the village of Trethevy, approximately 3 miles north of Liskeard in mid-Cornwall. Access to the reserve is by small, minor roads from the A38, A30 and B3254. The car park is a quarter of a mile north of the site, near Draynes Bridge.

By public transport, Liskeard train station is just 3 miles away or buses run to neighbouring Draynes.

Golitha Falls is near the route of the Two Valleys Walk, a circular trail starting in St Neots and passes through the valleys of the River Loveny and River Fowey and the heights of Berry Down.

Opening Times and Prices

Open daily throughout the year, standard opening times are 10am-5pm. Autumn/winter closing is an hour earlier at 4pm.

Parking opposite the start of the walk is free. Entry to the woodland reserve and waterfalls is free for all visitors.

golitha falls

The Legend of Jan Tregeagle

Legend tells of Jan Tregeagle, a 17th century lawyer and villain said to have tricked, gambled and murdered his way across Cornwall until the devil ordered him to empty nearby Dozmary Pool using a limpet shell.

When Tregeagle escaped, he fled towards Golitha Falls where demons still haunt him trying fruitlessly to stop floods by damming the river. Visitors may hear Jan’s cries between the trees!

jan treagle legend golitha falls

Other Golitha Falls Legends

According to local lore, Golitha Falls is an ancient and mystical place where, by the light of a full moon, one can glimpse ‘Golitha’ the Old Man of the woods. The name “Golitha” is derived from the old Cornish word for obstruction, adding to the enigmatic aura of the site.

It is said that the falls are associated with a dark history involving King Doniert (or Dunrgarth), one of Cornwall’s last Kings, who was drowned in the River Fowey at Golitha Falls in the year AD875. There are conflicting accounts of his death, with some suggesting he was drowned while hunting, and others claiming he was murdered.

 The area is steeped in legend and is believed to have a certain mystery to it, with tales of the Old Man of the Woods and the tragic fate of King Doniert adding to its allure.

The falls and the surrounding ancient woodland have become a part of local folklore, drawing visitors who are intrigued by its mystical history and natural beauty.

Key Highlights

Allow around 2 hours to follow the main 1 mile trail from the car park down into the plunging river gorge to take in scene-stealing highlights like:

  • Twisting Tree Root Bridges crossing the rushing waters.
  • Oak Woods carpeted with bluebells and wild garlic flowers in spring.
  • Mossy stone arches and short timber boardwalks guiding the trail.
  • Viewpoints onto the upper and lower cascades as water tumbles down the gorge over rocks.
golitha falls sign

Nature and Wildlife at Golitha Falls

It may be diminutive in size, but Golitha packs plenty of drama into its waterfall woodland walks!

The site is designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest for its woodland flora and an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty due to the dramatic landscape created by the river. It is home to a rich variety of plant and animal species, including over 120 species of bryophytes, 48 species of lichens, and woodland wildflowers such as bluebells and wood anemones. The reserve also supports a diverse range of wildlife, including dormice, bats, salmon, sea trout, and otters. Golitha Falls is recognized for its ancient woodland, with some areas recorded in the Domesday Book.

The reserve is a haven for moths and butterflies, with 83 species of moths and various butterfly species. The area is particularly stunning in spring when the woodland floor is carpeted with bluebells and wood anemones, and the meadows are adorned with a variety of wildflowers.

However, it’s important to note that the River Fowey can become swollen and the waterfalls more torrential during winter storms, so visitors should take extra care during these times. The reserve offers a beautiful and diverse natural environment for visitors to explore and enjoy.

golitha

Practical Information for Families

Useful tips for a smooth visit include:

  • Study the trail map by the entrance to pinpoint waterfall viewpoints.
  • Wear sturdy shoes as terrain is rocky and criss-crossed by streams.
  • Beware of steep drops – supervise kids cautiously.
  • Keep dogs on leads near livestock and for wildlife safety.

Frequently Asked Questions

How long is the walk at Golitha Falls? – It is about 1 mile long.

Are dogs allowed at Golitha Falls? -Yes, they are welcome off lead, but there are some sections of fast-flowing river which you should take extra care around.

Is the walk wheelchair friendly? – Generally yes it is. The walk is fairly flat and well marked, but it will get muddy when wet.

Nearby Days Out

Pair your visit with other family adventures like:

  • Camel Creek – adrenaline-pumping rides and play zones at this fun park.
  • Lanhydrock – National Trust’s majestic country estate with river trails.
  • Eden Project – Massive educational botanical gardens housed in biomes containing thousands of fascinating plant species from around the world.
  • Jamaica Inn – Historic smugglers inn on windswept Bodmin Moor made famous by Daphne du Maurier’s novel. Museum and accommodation available.
  • Dozmary Pool – Atmospheric collapsed sinkhole lake on Bodmin Moor steeped in myths and legends including being where King Arthur’s sword Excalibur was returned.
  • Launceston Castle – Impressive Norman motte-and-bailey ruins with wonderful views from the top over the Cornish countryside.
  • Cardinham Woods – Secluded haven with pretty woodland trails, forest activities and peaceful walking spots surrounded by nature.
  • Cotehele House & Quay – Medieval house and historic quay set above the River Tamar. Explore the gardens, mills and warehouses.
  • Trethorne Leisure Park – All weather family entertainment complex with activities from archery to go karting and golf ranges.

Though compact, Golitha’s waterside trails allow families to step back gracefully in time wandering beside tumbling falls fringed by ancient rainforest trees and moss-lined boulders amidst magical woodlands.

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