A Car Free Day Out around St Austell SW06
Grid ref: B5
58.6ha (145 acres)
OS ref”’ SX 007 487
Access from St Austell
Walk or cycle along the St Austell – Pentewan Cycle Trail … part of the Cornish Way. Distance 3.0 km (1 3/4 mls) approx.
Follow signs southward from the town centre, crossing the by-pass on cycle
route 3 or take the Mevagissey bus (no.26, hourly) from the bus station to London Apprentice.
Find the entrance from the bus stop by walking over an old stone bridge just past the Kings Wood restaurant.
Follow the lane running parallel to the St Austell (White) River up into the wood to the point where the surfaced road ends. Here you have a choice of two timber gates to go through.
The gate in front of you leads along the main forest ride (easy walking) running straight along the shoulder of the hill, with some good viewpoints to your right.
The left hand option takes you up a fairly steep track through what is more accurately known as Shepherdshill Wood to a high point at the end of the track (no bicycles past here) Either go back down via the steep path through the wood to your right or carry on, crossing a concrete road and then along the top edge of the woodland, keeping open fields to your left. (Note the stone retaining wall…possibly the boundary of an old estate deer park)
The two routes in effect join at the southern (Pentewan) end of the woodland, near the ruins of an old gamekeeper’s cottage. Return along the main ride making what is a circular route of about 3km (1 3/4ml) to the gated entrance.
There is also the option of taking a connecting path downhill either to get onto a lower footpath or the cycle trail running alongside the river down to Pentewan but note that in winter the lower paths through the wood may be very muddy. This is because they run through a wet, low lying area, the site of long past tin streaming* (known in the 18thc. as the “Happy Union” workings.)
The woods themselves were until 1990 owned by the Forestry Commission and comprise a mix of mature oak with sycamore, beech, ash and sweet chestnut plus plantations of southern beech, fir, larch and spruce.
The whole site is particularly important for butterflies and moths as well as having a rich ground flora and a good range of woodland birds.
Kings Wood is within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is designated a County Wildlife Site.
For further information on this and other WT woods in Cornwall, consult the Woodland Trust website.
*Tin Streaming. Water was used to wash away the lighter (waste) surface material leaving the heavier tin ore behind. This left characteristic ridges and channels that can still be seen today.