Goonhilly Downs

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Goonhilly Downs
Site of Special Scientific Interest
Goonhilly Downs - - 1003656.jpg
Goonhilly Downs
Goonhilly Downs is located in Cornwall
Goonhilly Downs
Location within Cornwall
Goonhilly Downs is located in England
Goonhilly Downs
Goonhilly Downs (England)
Area of SearchCornwall
Grid referenceSW720200
Coordinates50°02′22″N 5°10′15″W / 50.0394°N 5.1709°W / 50.0394; -5.1709Coordinates: 50°02′22″N 5°10′15″W / 50.0394°N 5.1709°W / 50.0394; -5.1709
Area1,271 hectares (12.7 km2; 4.91 sq mi)
Notification1951 (1951)
Natural England website
Telecommunication dish at Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, on the Downs

Goonhilly Downs is a Site of Special Scientific Interest that forms a raised plateau in the central western area of the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall, England, UK.[1] Situated just south of Helston and the Naval Air Station at 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.

Goonhilly Downs is now also home to a 12 MW wind farm [2] consisting of six two MW wind turbines and a tourist attraction called Cornish Camels.

The downs themselves are an area of sparse heathland, based on serpentinite geology. This is home to rare plants, such as the Cornish heath, which has been adopted as the county flower.[1][3]

A menhir can be found on the downs, near the BT site.

North Predannack Downs Nature Reserve[edit]

A couple of miles west of the BT site is another 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 adders and stonechats are commonly sighted here.

Half a mile before the BT Satellite dishes is Goonhilly Craft Shop and Tea Room. 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, and it was known locally as 'Telstar Cafe'. (Telstar is the name of various communications satellites, including the first ever such satellite able to relay television signals.) 'Telstar Cafe' formerly had a petrol station but petrol sales have been taken over by Tesco in nearby Helston. 100,000 people a year visited BT's nearby FutureWorld@Goonhilly (now closed) and many of them also call 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

See also[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Goonhilly Downs" (PDF). Natural England. 1989. Archived from the original (PDF) on 24 October 2012. Retrieved 27 October 2011.
  2. ^ "Goonhilly replaces wind turbines". BBC News. 19 August 2010.
  3. ^ Cornwall County Council, "The County Flower Archived 2008-09-30 at the Wayback Machine."

External links[edit]