Goonhilly Downs

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Goonhilly Downs

Goonhilly Downs are a heathland occupying a raised plateau in the central western area of the Lizard Peninsula in Cornwall. They are to be found just south of Helston and the Naval Air Station at Culdrose.

Goonhilly is famous for its Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station, the largest in the world. The large satellite dishes are an iconic landmark, and can be seen for miles.

Much of the Goonhilly Downs and their area, covering 3,141 acres, has been declared a 'Site of Special Scientific Interest'.[1]

Sights of Goonhilly

Telecommunication dish of the Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station

The Goonhilly Satellite Earth Station is a dominamt feature on the landscape, the dishes incrogruous on the natural landscape.

The Downs also now house a 12 MW wind farm [2] consisting of six 2 MW wind turbines.

There is also a tourist attraction here called 'Cornish Camels'.

Natural landscape

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 standing stone can be found on the downs, near the Earth Station site.

North Predannack Downs Nature Reserve

A couple of miles west of the Earth Station is North Predannack Downs Nature Reserve, which is designated a site of special scientific interest and a nature reserve. This reserve is owned and managed by the Cornwall Wildlife Trust and is prime Cornish heath with ponds and willow fen. Early Bronze Age barrows are to be found, 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.

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