Cairn Woodland Local Nature Reserve

Historic woodland and grassland area

The Cairn Pleasure Ground & Old Railway is an historic woodland and grassland area of about 15 acres on the southern outskirts of Ilfracombe, with a variety of paths winding their way through the site. Cairn Top stands some 520ft above sea level, well worth the climb for the extensive views – to the north across the town to the Bristol Channel and Wales, to the east beyond Combe Martin to Great and Little Hangman and down Slade Valley to the south west. The southern end of the Cairn, the top of Baileys Cleave, gives a panoramic view to the north and east, which many people think the best in Ilfracombe.

Depending on the time of year, you may see carpets of bluebells, early purple or common spotted orchids or even lesser butterfly orchids – over the years 250 flowering plants have been recorded. Many types of fungi including some stunning bracket fungi are often seen, along with abundant lichens which thrive in the clean air. The bird life is prolific, foxes, badgers, small mammals, toads, slow worms, grass snakes, adders and hundreds of varieties of insects, moths and butterflies make their home on the Cairn and can be glimpsed by the lucky visitor.

View / download the Cairn Walks guide.