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Exploring the estate at Godolphin

Large rock and bracken on Godolphin Hill, near Helston, Cornwall, looking north
View from Godolphin Hill, Cornwall | © National Trust Images/Paul Wakefield

There's lots to discover around the mighty Godolphin estate. Butterflies thrive here thanks to conservation land management and a little help from a herd of Ruby Red cows. The estate also has plenty of historical sites to uncover, including Tudor mines and Bronze Age features. There are also walks with far reaching views out to rugged Cornish coast.

Godolphin Hill

A gentle climb to the top of Godolphin Hill on a clear day rewards you with views to St Michael's Mount in Mounts Bay and also across to St Ives Bay.

Granite stone tops the peak of the hill, which is a perfect place to stop for a picnic and regain energy for the walk back down.


Local folklore suggests that the rock-strewn hilltops of Godolphin and Tregonning were the work of warring giants that stood on top of the hills and threw rocks at each other.

A close up of a small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly on a green plant in Killerton, Deon
Small pearl-bordered fritillary butterfly | © National Trust Images / Matthew Oates

The River Hayle

A shorter circular walk from the car park combines country views with walking along the River Hayle. Take in wooden bridges that traverse the water and return for refreshments in the Piggery tea-room.

Wildlife and conservation

The farmed land in the Godolphin estate is managed in a sustainable way that provides a habitat for a variety of smaller creatures. Rough land grazing is the most sustainable form of scrubland management and essential for nature conservation.

Red Ruby Devon cattle

Simply by grazing, the current herd of Ruby Red Devon cattle break down the dominant species of scrub allowing new growth. The removal of the tougher scrub and reduction of the bracken also creates new wind patterns around the hill, which is especially beneficial for butterflies.

Butterfly spotting

The hill is home to a growing population of small pearl-bordered fritillary butterflies, a red data species. As scrub is removed, important food sources, such as the dog violet, are allowed to grow with more ease. The butterfly is a key indicator species for good conservation management.

View across fields at Goldolphin House, in Cornwall, with abandoned pit head buildings in the foreground
Abandoned pit head buildings at Godolphin House | © National Trust Images / Aerial-Cam

Historical sites

Godolphin was quite literally built on top of the minerals that funded the estate. Around the edges of the hill are the remains of many mine workings dating from the late 16th century onwards.

Archaeology on the estate

The archaeology on the estate is wide and varied and some features date back to the Bronze Age. Landscape changes started around the Iron Age and medieval field systems are still evident on the hill.

Two adults walk through the garden in the sunshine at Godolphin, Cornwall

Discover more at Godolphin

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

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Visitors exploring the Grade II_-listed medeival garden at Godolphin

Things to do in the garden at Godolphin 

Godolphin’s garden paths provide a natural space that’s rich in history. Find out how the garden provides a home to the native Cornish bee. Explore the orchard, side garden paddock and King’s Garden.

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Running at Godolphin 

Get outdoors and get fit at Godolphin. Take part in a Trust10 running trail and discover the countryside estate at the same time. Suitable for 5k and 10k running abilities.

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Visiting Godolphin with your dog 

Godolphin is a two pawprint rated place. Take a gentle walk around the garden or head up to Godolphin hill for expansive country views. Find out all you need to know to enjoy your time here with your dog.

View across the countryside from Godolphin Hill, Cornwall

History of Godolphin 

Added to the UNESCO World Heritage list, Godolphin has special status. Find out about the people who lived here and how they created their wealth from the estate.

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Countryside and woodland 

Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.

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Explore some of the finest landscapes in our care on coastal paths, accessible trails, woodland walks and everything in between. Find the best places to walk near you.

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Countryside areas in Cornwall 

Cornwall has a wealth of woodlands, bridleways, trails and paths to explore including a wet willow woodland. Experience fresh air outdoors with the whole family this summer and look out for an abundance of wildlife and butterflies that call this place home.