Things to see and do this winter at Lydford Gorge
Escape from the crowds by descending into the gorge to soak up the refreshing atmosphere created by the towering Whitelady Waterfall
From Monday 2 November 2020 to Friday 5 March 2021 the Lydford Gorge and Devil's Cauldron walking trails are shut for safety and maintenance. The Waterfall trails remain open every day 10am-3.30pm, however when the shop and tea-rooms are shut the site is unstaffed with no facilities open. During November and December the shop and tea-room are open Friday to Sunday,10am-3.30pm until Sunday 19 December 2019.
At almost 30 meters Whitelady Waterfall is the highest in South West England. Depending on recent weather conditions it can be a gentle cascade of water over the cliff face or a raging torrent pounding down onto the rocks at the base. With the waterfall in full flow experience how the power of the fall creates its own winds in the gorge.
Bats at the gorge
On the yellow Waterfall trail, next to the river, keep an eye out for the entrance to one of the old mine workings that can be found around the gorge.
There's no public access into the workings however that doesn’t stop another mammal species making use of this man-made cave.
Both greater and lesser horseshoe bats, which are rare in England and have seen marked population declines in recent years, use this old mine shaft to hibernate over winter.
Railway path and bird hide
The track to the bird hide follows the course of the old Great Western Railway. After an initial steep section the track is level for a quarter of a mile. The bird hide at the end of the path looks out over the river valley and the steep wooded slopes, perfect for spotting woodland birds stocking up on reserves to see them through the winter.
Whitelady Waterfall is only accessible on foot. Always make sure to wear sturdy footwear as the paths are steep and slippery.
Winter work for the rangers
During the winter closure, the rangers get busy with some of the bigger jobs in the gorge. This usually includes work to make the trees safe and to help keep the woodland regenerating. A team of experts check the clif faces for loose rocks. Any loose rocks they do find will be dislodged to fall onto the empty paths below. Preventing them from falling unexpectedly. Then there will be repairs to the miles of paths, handrails and steps to do before they can be re-opened.
Keep your eyes peeled as you walk around, the area is teeming with wildlife. Look out for dippers, recognisable medium sized brown birds with white chests that 'bob' on stones in the river. A winter highlight are Goldcrests which like to flit around the trees. Being the UK’s smallest bird, they can be hard to spot, instead listen out for their very high-pitched calls.
The beautiful and shy Jay
If you’re very lucky you might spot a Jay. They are shy and rarely move far from cover but listen out for their screaming call.
In the autumn you may see them burying acorns which they can retrieve later in the winter when food is scarce.