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Exploring Cadsonbury

Two women and a child walking in woodland at Hardcastle Crags, West Yorkshire
Visitors walking in the woods at Cadsonbury | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Visit the remarkable landscape of Cadsonbury, where you can immerse yourself in semi-natural woodland which offers both beautiful river walks or discover dramatic views from an Iron Age hillfort.


The woods at Cadsonbury are a great place to visit at any time in any season. In the sunshine the woodland paths along the River Lynher offer cooling shade. At certain times of the year, the ground beneath is awash with wild flowers amongst the veteran trees.


Carved out from a natural hill, this single ditched Iron Age hillfort, which Is a scheduled ancient monument, was created between the 5th and 3rd centuries BC. It probably served as a beacon site as well as a protective dwelling.

Trek up the steep hill to the fort for views across the valley on a clear day and to see wildflowers including dog violets and bluebells in spring.

A dark green fritillary butterfly at Portstewart Strand
Dark green fritillary butterflies are often seen at Cadsonbury | © National Trust Images/Wilbert McIlmoyle


Cadsonbury offers an abundance of flora and fauna for walkers to enjoy throughout the year.

Look out for otter, salmon, and birds including dippers and kingfishers which can be spotted along the river. Butterflies and other invertebrates can be seen here. See if you can spot wall and grayling butterflies as well as the predator hornet robberfly. Cadsonbury is also home to many hazel dormice.

Look out for dark green fritillary butterflies in the grass and health land around the summit of the hillfort. Meadow pipits, snipe and yellowhammer birds are also regular visitors.

Visiting with your dog

Dogs are more than welcome at Cadsonbury, with riverside walks and the summit of the hill fort to explore. Cattle graze freely in and around the hillfort, so please keep your dog under control and don’t approach them.

Visitors walking their dogs on an autumn walk in the woodland at Blickling, Norfolk
Visitors walking their dogs at Cadsonbury | © National Trust Images/John Millar

Keeping control of your dog

Our definition of close or effective control is: ​

  • Being able to recall your dogs in any situation at the first call
  • Being able to clearly see your dog at all times (not just knowing they have gone into the undergrowth or over the crest of the hill). In practice, this means keeping them on a footpath if the surrounding vegetation is too dense for your dog to be visible
  • Not allowing them to approach other visitors without their consent
  • Having a lead with you to use if you encounter livestock or wildlife, or if you are asked to use one

The Canine Code

We’ve worked with our partner Forthglade to come up with this Canine Code, which helps to make sure everyone can enjoy their day:

  • Keep them close: using a short lead helps to keep your dog from disturbing ground-nesting birds and farm animals. It's essential to use a short lead around sheep. But if cattle approach you, it's best to let your dog off the lead, and call them back when it's safe to do so.
  • Pick up the poo: please always clear up after your dog. If you can't find a bin nearby, take the poo bags home with you.
  • Watch the signs: keep an eye on local signs and notices wherever you're walking. They'll tell you if a beach has a dog ban, for instance, or if a path has been diverted, or if you're in an area where dogs can run off-lead.
  • Stay on the ball: remember that not everyone loves dogs, and some people fear them. So make sure your dog doesn't run up to other people, especially children.

Help look after Cadsonbury

A dog waste bin can be found at the start of the woodland walk at the car park. Please use this for your dog waste bags or take them home. Leaving bags on paths or hanging in trees, spoils the beauty of this special place and everyone’s enjoyment of it.

The rangers strim back growth around the paths at Cadsonbury, so please don’t flick poo into the grass at the side of paths.

Help to protect the riverbank by using the specific areas along the river that we have kept open for our four-legged friends and their owners to paddle in the river.

Two visitors walk their dog through along a path through the Lambsclose Plantation on the Trelissick estate, Cornwall

Discover more at Cadsonbury

Find out when Cadsonbury is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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