The eighteenth century traveller Charles Littleton said that the Goonhilly Downs were ‘boggy, naked, barren moors with not a tree or shrub to be seen’. Indeed, the plateau of Goonhilly, sitting almost in the middle of The Lizard, can appear bleak on an overcast and cold day, with little shelter from chilly Atlantic breezes. Somewhere to go for a brisk walk with your dog, but not much else.
Charles Littleton was, however, definitely missing something. Venture just a little deeper and you will find the Downs have many secrets to reveal – wildlife, rare flora, a special geology and a heritage that stretches back into prehistory – with much to discover and cherish.
On a sunny day in summer, the pools will be buzzing with dragonflies and damselflies; the heaths will be humming with bees and butterflies nectaring on the rare Cornish Heath and other vibrant flowers; while overhead birds will be singing, including the iconic Skylark. In cooler months, you will find both migratory and stay-at-home birds, while taking time to explore the archaeology and history of this magical place.
There are well-marked paths across the Downs, though some are rough underfoot, and may be wet outside of the warmer months of the year. There is lots to find even close to the car park, but you can follow tracks further across Goonhilly, down to Croft Pascoe or north to the boundary of the Goonhilly Earth Satellite Station.
Parking: Small free car park. Open all year. Heading eastwards, turn right into car park from the B3293, not long after the entrance to Goonhilly Earth Station
Facilities: Please note there are no toilet or café facilities on site. Dogs are very welcome, but please keep them under control as there may be livestock and/or ponies grazing
Accessibility: The paths closer to the car park are reasonably accessible to wheelchairs, but tracks further away become muddy and more difficult to navigate.
Activities: Walks, wildlife, flora, history and archaeology