Tag: days out in cornwall

Visiting The Eden Project PT 2

If you haven’t read it, please go back here to read the first part of our visit to the Eden Project. In part one I wrote about the rainforest biome. In part two I will be writing about the Mediterranean biome.

Entering the Mediterranean biome was certainly a different experience from the last. Light and airy it felt much more comfortable and a lot less wild. Created to emulate landscapes of the Mediterranean, South Africa, California and Western Australia and showcase the incredible plants that grow there, the Mediterranean biome is a huge and fascinating space.

Upon entering we were greeted with the strong smell of olives and wafting herbs. At the entrance is a patch where cacti and huge sprouting aloe veras grow. I adore cacti so I was particularly interested in this part of the biome.

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Much like the rainforest biome, there are winding paths that reveal secrets around every single corner. The Mediterranean biome had a huge and varied array of plants and flowers that I had never seen before but were certainly very beautiful.

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The carefully tended flower beds were a riot of colour, with each plant seeming to be in competition with the last. Vibrant petals, unique designs, flowers with fur and fluff and an array of South African proteas; every kind of flower you could think of, the Mediterranean biome had it all.

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Also much like the Rainforest biome, the Mediterranean biome had stone stairways winding up to higher levels to explore. However this biome did not have a tree-top walk or viewing platform at the very top (which suited me just fine.)

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In the vineyard was an assortment of amazing Bacchanalian sculptures and just past those was a large al fresco dining area. The food smelt absolutely delicious but we decided we would eat lunch at the pasty shop we had spotted on the way in so we gave this one a miss.

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We spent perhaps an hour in the Mediterranean biome, wandering around and pointing out the incredible plants to each other. This was a little less time than we had spent in the rainforest. The area seemed to have a little less to explore but in terms of plants and flowers it was more interesting and varied.

Outside we took a walk through the gardens, soaking up the sunshine and admiring the pretty views.

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We stopped for lunch at the pasty shop as I had been desperate to try my first Cornish pasty! My only complaint was that it was a 40 minute wait to be served (eek!) but nonetheless the pasty was delicious. Even the little robins and sparrows were flapping around the tables, eagerly awaiting a peck. For those who don’t fancy waiting though, there are lots of alternative options. The Eden Project has several restaurants serving good quality meals and snacks.

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After our late lunch we meandered through the remainder of the gardens, stopping to take photographs of the little water features and wildflowers.

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Our last port of call was the ‘The Core’ a little visitor centre of sorts with interactive displays.

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Inside was a huge wall of recycled fridge freezers and a ton of alphabet letters. This kept us entertained for a good while as we’re basically just overgrown children at heart.

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The Core is also home to the impressive seed sculpture by Peter Randall-Page. The seed is one of the biggest sculptures in history to be made out of a single rock. The huge granite sculpture started life as a 167-tonne boulder and took more than two years to create. I loved this sculpture because as I think I’ve said before, I really love novelty oversized things.

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All in all we had a wonderful time exploring the Eden Project. I would like to go back again and explore more of the surrounding areas outside of the biomes. I also think depending on what time of year you visit the experience will be completely different so I’d be interested to go back in Autumn!

Visiting Tintagel Castle

The sky was a brilliant blue and the sun shone hotly on the day we decided to visit Tintagel Castle. The perfect weather to be climbing a steep cliff!

So I will admit it. Although Tintagel Castle is surrounded in history and legend, I really wasn’t aware of its’ existence until Gareth decided we were going there. The main lure for me was that it’s an English Heritage site and we get in to those for free. I wasn’t expecting much.

Situated in the picturesque village of Tintagel, the iconic castle is famed for its’ links with King Arthur (Geoffrey Monmouth named it as the place King Arthur was conceived.) The ruins sit high up on a cliff overlooking the sea. There’s a small beach there too, with the famous Merlin’s cave tunnelling in to the rock face.

Gareth laughed at my need to stop for a cappuccino at a homely looking cafe. And for then clutching on to it for dear life as we descended an impossibly steep hill on the footpath to the castle. (Obviously London, he poked fun at me.)

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As we rounded the corner we were greeted with the welcoming site of the sea. Shouldered by rolling hills, the path down to the sea and beach was a very pleasant walk.

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As we reached the ticket office it turned out I had failed to print out the necessary coupons to gain free entry. (I didn’t know this was even a thing.) Luckily entry to the castle is very fair at just £8.50 per adult.

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We decided to explore the small, stony beach first as the tide was out and that meant we would be able to venture in to Merlin’s cave.

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In the cold, damp of Merlin’s cave we heard pigeons cooing overhead, obviously discomfited at our intrusion. We had fun clambering over rocks and stones to peer in to the small rock pool with a dark glossy surface.

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Outside on the beach I marvelled at how blue the sea was (a million miles away from Southend!) and we ambled from rock pool to rock pool. I was so desperate to find a star fish. I’m sad to say I didn’t find one. I did however, come across lots of little fish and curious jelly-like creatures.

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From the beach we began our ascent up the cliff. A winding stair case goes all the way up which makes it easy enough to get to the top. But make no mistakes, your calves will start to feel the burn once you are done with all the stairs.

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At the top, the ruins of the castle are accompanied by little plaques describing what each room is. I found the ruins to be interesting but the thing that really captured my attention was the view which was nothing short of beautiful.

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We sat for awhile just taking in the views (and catching our breaths.) It really was lovely to be up there in the sunshine. I can imagine that if it had been raining it would be quite a different experience.

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All in all we spent 3 exciting hours exploring Tintagel Castle ruins and the beach. I am so pleased we went as it was truly stunning and unlike anything else I have experienced before. I would say this is the least child-friendly of the locations we visited due to the amount of steep hills, stairs and general climbing. (So it’s a good job we don’t have children!) Just something to bear in mind if you’re looking for a family day out.

Lost Gardens of Heligan

On the day we decided to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan it was positively dreary and had been raining all morning. I hadn’t done my usual research so I wasn’t sure what to expect, I just knew that a bit of drizzle wouldn’t dampen our holiday plans.

Situated in St Austell, Cornwall, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is both historic and mysterious. Described as a ‘genuine secret garden’ because it was lost under overgrowth for decades, the Lost Gardens is set on 200 acres of woodland, ‘jungle’, fields and gardens. Admission is a very reasonable £14.50 per adult.

As soon as we entered the Gardens I started to feel quite excited. Exotic-looking trees loomed ahead and swallows darted around weaving in between the outside cafe tables, chirping noisily.

We decided to walk through the woods first. Upon entering we were greeted by a signpost that read ‘The Giant’s Woodland Adventure’ and a rather large head curiously peeking up from the ground.

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The woods are a truly magical place to walk through at this time of year with the floor carpeted in brilliant bluebells. As we walked we came across the Mud Maiden, a giant sleeping sculpture. She looked so peaceful laying there on the damp, mossy earth, her hair made of daffodils and ivy hugging at her shoulders.

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Eventually we came across a peculiar bee hive. Not a real, functional one but an oversized version with lots of fun facts and images of bees plastered to the walls inside. It felt as if the more we walked through the woods the more interesting and unique things we saw. It truly captured and sparked my imagination. I can’t help but think this would be the most enchanting place to visit for children.

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Finally exiting the woods we were greeted with a narrow, gravelly path, flanked either side by lush green ferns, towering trees and unusual plants.

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We walked down a steep hill, past a murky pond that was framed with flowers and plants. This part of the gardens is known as ‘The Jungle’.

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As I mentioned earlier, I hadn’t done my usual research. So I didn’t realise that the gardens had a rope bridge. Personally I’m not a fan of heights, particularly not ones of the ‘this doesn’t feel safe, my body is actually swaying’ variety. But the rope bridge, stretching across the pond, looked incredibly adventurous. Plus a tiny little child was doing it so I’d have looked pretty pathetic if I backed out. I clung on to the rope with white knuckles, managing to avoid looking down and taking small steps. I have to admit, it was actually pretty fun and made me feel like I was really in a jungle. (Apart from the bit where the man behind me over-zealously swayed the whole bridge with his clumsy steps, causing me to feel sick and the child in front to scream out… that wasn’t so fun.)

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Off of the bridge and back on to solid land we began walking down hill across a wooden path way that weaved in and out between tall trees.

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At the bottom of the hill we came across a curious structure called ‘The Witches Hat’. From here there were several paths we could have taken. We opted for the one that led down to the ponds and Kingfisher Walk as we had been told by employees that Kingfishers were regularly spotted there.

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Peering in to one of the ponds I was delighted to see lots of tiny black tadpoles darting about. Although we sat for awhile in the bird hide we didn’t catch the glossy orange and blue feathers of a kingfisher. Just a lone robin and the calls of crows overhead.

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From the ponds we walked up a treacherously steep hill (Cornwall is just basically a hill it seems) and towards the manicured gardens. The first we stopped at was the Flower Garden which, curiously enough, didn’t seem to have that many flowers in at all. Regardless it was still very picturesque and charming.

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From the gardens we walked to the farm. The strange thing about The Lost Gardens of Heligan is that it almost feels as if you are cramming several days out in to one. Just as you become immersed in woodland you are in the jungle. Just as you are exploring the jungle you are in the gardens. And as soon as you’ve taken in the neat greenhouses and carefully planted trees you’re in the middle of a farm! Yes, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is a curious place and time does feel a little irrelevant there. I think that is certainly part of the fun though.

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On the farm I was pleased to spot more chaffinches. I love these little birds but rarely get the chance to see them up close. In a pen outside we saw chickens and ducks scratching at the ground. In a barn we saw adorable piglets playing and chasing each other, sheep, lambs and cows.

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From the farm we took a dusty path and exited in to what felt like more jungle. Beautiful pink blooms flowered on the trees and it was a real pleasure to walk among them, listening to the bird song as we went.

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We came across unexpected surprises at almost every turn; little trickling water features and incredible plants and flowers like nothing we had ever seen before. This for me was pretty impressive as we have explored many gardens together.

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When we finally reached the end it felt as if we had been in the gardens for an entire day. It was actually closer to three hours. I honestly could have spent more time there though, just wandering around and taking everything in. If I ever have the chance to go again I will most definitely; the Lost Gardens of Heligan was the highlight of our trip for me and the memories of it will last forever.