Plantations and parkland
This 1.5 mile ramble takes you through one of the tree plantations at Penrose and then rejoins the parkland. Find out about the history of Penrose and enjoy some of the local wildlife on route.
Penrose Hill car park
Start in the Penrose Hill National Trust car park. Take the path at the lower end, crossing over the drive and folloeing the footpath through the trees. At the next track, turn right, and follow the fenced driveway as it curves round to the left, ignoring the private road to Penrose House.
Continue down the drive until you reach a metal kissing-gate on the left. Go through his and down to the Victorian bath house above the steam. In the Middle Ages, the Penrose manor mill stood on this spot, surrounded by orchards, willows and a hop garden.
Taking the plunge
During the eighteenth century outdoor bath houses sprung up across the nation in the gardens of stately homes. Often designed to be a feature of the landscape, in ornamental temples and grottos, these plunge pools were the latest health craze, part of an exercise regime to cure disease and restore health to pampered aristocrats. This bath house was built in 1846, and inside it the Rogers family - the squires of Penrose - would take quick dips in the chilly waters before toweling down in front of the open fire.
Cross the footbridge and climb the meadow towards the small gate into the woods. During the late eighteenth century these upper slopes were a small enclosed deer park, with 51 deer brought from Pencarrow. Enter the woods and follow the path up through the trees and round to the right.
Continue along the woodland path through Park Plantation, with views through the trees down to the Parkland. In the spring months this part of the woodlands comes alive with the colour of spring flowers particularly bluebells. This part of the wood has been planted in the last 25 to 30 years. Eventually the path descends through Sycamore Grove to emerge onto the drive, just west of Helston Lodge.
When Penrose was sold to huge Rogers in 1771, the house was surrounded by orchards and intersecting avenues, backed by a forest "wilderness". Gradually the new owners transformed the landscape, creating a parkland with specimen tress and new plantations around Loe Pool, including exotic species such as Monterey Pine and Sitka Spruce. The planting went on throughout the twentieth century. Today the National Trust works to maintain a bio-diverse, semi-natural woodland at Penrose, protecting mature trees, whilst thinning and replanting to create a varied age-structure.
Turn right and follow the driveway back into the Parkland, with views across to Penrose House. The house is still home to the Rogers family, who gave the estate to the National Trust in 1974, the largest single gift to the Trust in Cornwall.
At the junction, if you want to make a short detour to the Stables cafe (open at weekends and through all school holidays) and the walled garden, turn left; otherwise keep straight on, soon crossing over the bridge, built in 1846 as part of the landscaping of the park. Continue past the kissing-gate which you went through earlier and retrace your steps up the slope and all the way back to the car park.
Much of the park plantation has been planted in the last 25 to 30 years, with young ash, oak and sweet chestnut among the older beech, sycamore, Turkey oak and Monterey cypress. In early spring the woodland paths are bordered with bluebells, celandine and primroses and in summer you'll find red campion, wood speedwell, creeping buttercup and enchanter's nightshade. The woods are home to many breeding birds - goldcrest, great-spotted woodpeckers, chiff-chaffs, tawny owls as well as the increasingly endangered bullfinch and song thrush.
Penrose Hill car park
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