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
Arthur the oldest telecommunication dish at Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, on the Downs

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.[1] 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.

Goonhilly Downs is now also home to a 12 megawatt wind farm[2] consisting of six wind turbines of two megawatts, and supports 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 Cornish heath, which has been adopted as the county flower.[1][3]

A large standing stone known as a menhir can be found on the downs, near to the satellite station.

North Predannack Downs Nature Reserve[edit]

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.

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]