Gardens and Nature
Things to Do
Kennal Vale is a 20-acre nature reserve which occupies a steep-sided granite
boulder-strewn valley through which runs the River Kennal. The site is leased
and managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust.
In the past the valley was used for the commercial production
of gunpowder. Kennal Vale gunpowder factory started production in 1812 and
by 1860 employed around 50 men. On May 10, 1838 the valley was rocked with
explosions as five mills blew up in succession. Amazingly, only one man
was killed and another seriously injured. There is an interesting report
of the incident on worldheritage.cornwall.com.
The gunpowder factory ceased production around 1914 due to
the increasing use of gelignite and dynamite. Many of the old buildings
remain, as do the leats which diverted water from the river to power the
mills. The trees in the valley, which include beech, ash and sycamore, were
originally planted by the gunpowder company to help retain a damp atmosphere.
Today, as well as being an historically important monument,
the site provides a valuable habitat for wildlife including pipistrelle
bats, spotted flycatchers, dippers chiffchaffs and grey wagtails as well
as butterflies, moths and dragonflies.