Winter walking at Lydford Gorge

The steps to Whitelady Waterfall with a covering of snow on the ground around

The Whitelady Waterfall can be dramatic in winter, whether cloaked in frost and mist, lit from above by the late winter sun, or a raging torrent after heavy rain. Then if we get a heavy frost or (fingers crossed) dusting of snow the gorge can be truly magical.

The Whitelady waterfall can be reached by three routes all of which can be turned into a circular walk by taking a different route back to the entrance.

The wintry sun glistening on a snowy Whitelady Waterfall
The winter sun making the snow shine next to Whitelady Waterfall
The wintry sun glistening on a snowy Whitelady Waterfall

The yellow zig zag trail has over 200 steps, so if you are planning on taking this route you might want to go down the steps to the waterfall rather than up. On your way you can admire the views that open up as the leaves fall from the trees and listen out for the crashing of the river Burn as it tumbles down Whitelady Waterfall to join the Lyd almost 30 meters below.

The other yellow trail takes a longer route to the waterfall with no steps. The path meets the river Lyd and follows it up stream to the waterfall; look out for river birds such as dipper and grey wagtail. Along the way have a peep into the old mine shaft, it is believed to be an exploratory working for copper and is the longest shaft in the gorge. It is barred with a gate to keep people out but allow other residents in. Due to the conditions in the shaft, which stays dry and at a relatively constant temperature, it provides a safe habitat for both the greater and lesser horseshoe bat, which are nationally rare having seriously declined in numbers in previous years.

Greater horseshoe bat
Greater horseshoe bat hanging from rock in cave
Greater horseshoe bat

The waterfall can also be reached via the railway path which links up with the yellow trail. The railway played a big role in putting Lydford Gorge on the map, bringing visitors from cities such as Plymouth and Exeter quicker and cheaper than ever before. At the end of the railway path is a bird hide, a great place to rest and look out for woodland birds such as the beautiful nuthatch and great spotted woodpecker.

A nuthatch climbing a moss covered tree
Nuthatch climbing moss covered tree
A nuthatch climbing a moss covered tree