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Otter trap at Tehidy Park

Tehidy Park - a 250 acre area between Redruth and Camborne, once the private demesne of the inhabitants of Tehidy House - has been open to the public since the mid 1980s, though it is still relatively little-known outside the immediate area. An enclave of private housing surrounds the manor house (rebuilt after a fire in 1911), but the extensive park, now mainly covered with secondary woodland, is a haven for wildlife.

It wasn't always the case: alongside a pretty stone bridge across a river running from the boating lake, extensive remains of an otter trap can be seen, dating from a time when the fur of these beautiful animals was valued to make items of clothing. The increased availability of silk contributed to the decline of this abhorrent practice, and thankfully now otters are protected from hunting, their numbers are again increasing, and the prospect of catching a glimpse of these sleek and nimble creatures can enhance early morning and late-evening strolls.

Otter Bridge is set over the river that runs from the boating lake (near to the South entrance of Tehidy Park) towards the north coast, and can be easily identified by the lovely wooden sculpture of otters that sit alongside it: perfect for photo-opportunities! The river here is very beautiful, with the constructed banks being almost masked by the dense vegetation along the edges of the water, and the river running clear and sparkly.

The otter trap itself is made of stone, and is set on the west bank of the river, to the north of the bridge. It's uncertain how high the walls here would have been, but the low doors on the part of the wall nearest to the river are obviously intended as entrances for the otters to use. Presumably there would have been some stiff (leather?) flaps positioned on the inside of these entrances, so that the otters could push their way in (to reach a food-source set as bait), but could not then escape.

Today, the area is a haven for these sleek river swimmers, and though it may take a very early morning start to catch an otter in action here, evidence of their presence can be found by later-risers. On close inspection, several of the trees here show gnaw-marks from otters, as they enjoy their favourite food of tree-bark. Perhaps the otters living here now are the descendants of those that lived here several centuries ago, and have out-lasted the Basset family that hunted them, who moved-out from Tehidy in 1916!

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