|Site of Special Scientific Interest|
|Area of Search||Cornwall|
|Area||1,271 hectares (12.7 km2; 4.91 sq mi)|
|Natural England website|
Goonhilly Downs is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) that forms a raised plateau in the central western area of the Lizard peninsula in southern Cornwall, England, UK. Situated just south of Helston and the Royal Naval Air Station RNAS Culdrose, it is famous for its Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, at one time the largest in the world. The large satellite dishes are an iconic landmark, and can be seen for miles.
A large standing stone known as a menhir can be found on the downs, near to the satellite station.
North Predannack Downs Nature Reserve
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A couple of miles west of the BT site is another triple SI (SSSI), and nature reserve, owned and managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust. This reserve is prime Cornish heath (Erica vagans) with ponds and willow fen. Early Bronze Age barrows are present, and there are several ancient 'turf-hut' circles. There are remains of buildings which were part of RAF Dry Tree and later RAF Trelanvean, used during the Second World War. Both the adder – a venomous snake, and the stonechat – a passerine bird are commonly sighted here.
Approached from the Helston direction and half a mile before the Satellite dishes is the former Goonhilly Craft Shop and Tea Room, now converted to a private dwelling. Set back from the road, the building was constructed in the early 1960s by a local farmer. The land was originally part of the nearby Trelowarren estate. Planning permission was granted to build a 4-bedroomed bungalow and petrol station/garage and it was known locally as 'Telstar'; (Telstar is the name of various communications satellites, including the first ever such satellite able to relay television signals.) 'Telstar Cafe' used to have a petrol station but petrol is now sold at Helston supermarket garages. 100,000 people a year visited BT's nearby FutureWorld@Goonhilly (now closed) and many of them also called into the Craft Shop and Tea Room before making their way back from Goonhilly.
Goonhilly Downs also serves as a landing point for the SEA-ME-WE 3, the longest submarine cable on Earth.