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The Steeple Woodland Nature Reserve is a 40-acre public open space around Knill’s Monument, overlooking St Ives. Visitors can explore the woods, stroll over heathland and discover areas planted with young trees. A variety of activities take place at the reserve, including volunteer work sessions, wildlife surveys, environmental research projects and community events. Wildlife comprises of butterflies, birds and animals including rabbits, foxes, common frogs and common toads.
The site was designated a Local Nature Reserve in 2002 and has been awarded the prestigious Green Flag Award three years running from 2006. The reserve has three different areas for you to explore.
Steeple Woods is a mature woodland of mainly beech and oak trees to the north of Steeple Lane. The wood contains many old coppiced and pollarded trees, whose trunks have taken on strange and interesting shapes. In the past, these would have been cut at intervals to provide valuable timber for a wide range of end-uses.
Trelyon Downs, on the south side of the lane, has been planted with a mix of native tree species. Wildlife and flowers are now thriving among the trees and glades.
On the top of Cock Hill, around Knill’s monument, an open area of heathland is being encouraged. Plants typical of lowland heath have emerged in a patchwork of heathers, gorse, bracken, grasses, mosses and lichens.
- Parking is very limited so visitors are requested to walk or use public transport if at all possible.
- Visitors should take their own food and drink as there are no facilities on site or nearby.
There are a number of footpaths and lanes linking the nature reserve with St.Ives, Carbis Bay and Halsetown.
The nearest bus stop is just down the road from the reserve, between St.Ives and Carbis Bay on the 17 and 14 routes. From here, the nature reserve is about 10 minutes walk up Steeple Lane.
St Michael’s Way
St Michael’s Way is an ancient route which runs from Lelant to Marazion and passes through the Steeple Woodland reserve. Now comprised of sections of footpath, track and road, the route was thought to have been used by pilgrims, missionaries and travellers, especially those from Ireland and Wales. It is thought that they regularly crossed this relatively narrow section of land to avoid the dangers of sailing the treacherous course around Land’s End. Dating back to pre-historic times (pre 410AD), it is believed that this route played an important role in Cornwall’s rapid conversion into a Christian faith.