TRURO Cornwall TR3 6LQ
Kennall Vale is located between Redruth and Penryn, and welcomes their thousands of visitors, year after year, thanks to the beautiful woodland, fascinating history and its sterling reputation as a popular dog walking spot. Evidence of its interesting past as a gunpowder factory can still be found today. With the nature reserve being scattered with old granite ruins, it is the perfect blend of natural attraction and industrial heritage, and is a great spot to explore for both those visiting Cornwall for the first time and regular visitors looking for a new adventure.
Conveniently located at equal distance between Redruth, Penryn and Truro, our luxury Cornwall cottages are just a short and simple twenty minute drive down the A39. Entry to the woodlands is free and the site is managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. The woodlands is open at all times, but the best time to visit for wildlife, views, and weather is between April and September. That said, visiting during the off season increases the likelihood that you’ll get the place to yourself, enabling you to make the most of the peace and quiet.
Today, the densley wooded valley is a peaceful haven for those hoping to escape the hectic nature of everyday life, providing the opportunity to take a step back, slow down and really appreciate your surroundings. Any noise that does disturb the silence is likely to be the song of a bird or the sound of rushing water in the distance, but that has not always been the case. This site was once host to a gunpowder factory, chosen for its proximity to the River Kennall, as the cascading waters provided a power source, diverted into waterwheels. The woodland was also chosen because of the number of trees already there, alongside the opportunity for the company to plant more trees. At the time, this was done to help towards absorbing a large explosion, but has now created a delightful woodland area for both locals and visitors to enjoy.
To make gunpowder, three core ingredients are required; charcoal, saltpetre and sulphur. They are ground down into a fine powder, which is then compressed, and despite these seemingly simple steps, there were ten stages to the process, all of which took place in a variety of different buildings. The site once consisted of 50 buildings to accommodate such a process, and while many remain, nature is slowly taking over those that are beginning to fade away into the undergrowth. Despite all of those safety precautions, accidents happened. In May, 1838, five mills blew up after one another, with some reports suggesting that the roof of one was found over a mile away. A further explosion happened a few years later and one worker wasn’t so lucky, with body parts strewn across the site.
There are a plethora of walking routes and trails to check out during your visit, making this the ideal spot for those that have bought their four-legged friend along with them. On a nice day, take a picnic and find a spot close to the picturesque waterfalls for an atmospheric lunch with a view. The quarry is flooded and features a sheer rock face rising out of the clear water.
Whilst looking around the nature reserve, keep a keen eye out for some rare and unusual wildlife species including the greater horseshoe bat, along side the typical creatures you may expect to call this home. Interestingly, Kennall Vale is also popular with bird-watchers as it is often referred to as the best place in Cornwall to spot dippers.
We hope you’ve enjoyed learning a little more about what awaits you at Kennall Vale and the sorts of things you can look forward to for your next visit to Cornwall. For more information on the best places to visit during your stay at The Valley, check out our blog for location guides, including one on Kynance Cove, and other fantastic pieces on what’s on and around our luxury Cornwall cottages.