Tag: lost gardens of heligan

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.

 

Cornwall Bucket List

I have always wanted to visit Cornwall. Growing up, my mum had shared lots of fond memories of her own childhood holidays there. I wanted to see the sights for myself!

Prior to visiting Cornwall I had made a little ‘bucket list’ of things I wanted to see and do. We have just got back from a wonderful trip and so I thought I would share that list.

Please look out for more blog posts as I should be posting one each day this week. These will go in to more detail about some of the wonderful places we have visited!

Stay in a cottage

Nuthatch is a small and cosy cottage nestled at the top of a very steep hill, surrounded by dense woodland to one side and vast, open farmland to the other. At the heart of Bodmin, this cottage was the perfect location for us to ferry to-and-fro across Cornwall. Plus just look at it, it’s charming!

I loved staying in this little cottage, even if it was impossibly cold in the evenings. Inside were traditional wooden beams, a spacious bedroom, a bath tub and a small but perfectly formed kitchen/living room area. The kitchen window overlooked a field of gentle cows. We would rush to that window every time we heard the metallic calling of a pheasant, who would strut down the lane past the cottage every evening.

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Visit Tintagel

An English Heritage site, Tintagel castle is iconic with its’ links to King Arthur. We visited on the warmest day of our trip, the sky a brilliant blue and the sun beaming down from high up in the sky.

The site itself is absolutely stunning and exceeded all of our expectations. From the stony beach with it’s dark Merlin’s cave and rock pools filled with mysterious creatures to the castle ruins and impressive cliffs- everything was simply wonderful.

There’s lots of walking up steep hills and endless staircases though, so if you’re planning to make the trip I can’t stress that sensible footwear is key.

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Visit The Eden Project

The Eden Project has long since been on my ‘To Do’ list and was one of the major reasons I wanted to go to Cornwall in the first place.

The iconic honeycomb-esque biomes are even more impressive in person than they are on TV or the internet. The vast structures loom up high and are surrounded by tall quarry walls which frame them quite picturesquely. Inside you become immersed in rainforest or mediterranean climes. My personal favourite was the rainforest with it’s curious lizards and partridges lurking in the foliage. The rainforest biome is also home to the Titan Arum which is an absolutely monstrous perennial herb with the largest collection of flowers in the world.

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Visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan

Probably the highlight of our entire trip, the Lost Gardens of Heligan delighted, inspired and sparked my imagination to its fullest.

These historic gardens are set on 200 acres of land and are truly impressive. Personal highlights for me were the incredible giant structures and the swinging rope bridge which had me feeling like a forgotten character in an Indiana Jones film. Seriously though, the Lost Gardens of Heligan is an absolute must if you’re going anywhere near Cornwall.

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Eat a Cornish pasty

Of course you can’t go to Cornwall and not sample a traditional Cornish Pasty! The first one we ate was at The Eden Project where we had to wait a (harder to digest) 40 minutes for it to be served! After that we stuck to the traditional bakeries where pasties and cakes are incredible and seem to (scarily) become a staple part of the holiday diet.

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…and Cornish ice cream!

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Go to the beach

I had heard good things about the beaches in Cornwall but even so I was pleasantly surprised to find myself on one filled with golden sand, not a pebble in sight!

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…and look in rock pools!

I’m not sure why but I have always been fascinated with rock pools and peering in them to see what strange creatures dwell there. Even now at the old age of 27 I still want to stick my nose in them and see what I can find. I definitely spent more time than is probably acceptable just walking from rock pool to rock pool. I had hoped to see a Starfish but unfortunately that was not to be. I did see a lot of other interesting things though!

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Visit fishing villages

We really wanted to explore the fishing villages/villages of Cornwall and get a taste of what life is like on the coast. I think we actually did pretty well as on this trip we managed to see Port Isaac, Padstow, Fowey, Perranporth and Newquay! (Not bad for a Monday-Friday.)

Port Isaac is famously known as being the location for the TV program Doc Martin (although I didn’t personally know this when we went there.) Funnily enough when we visited they where filming a scene for this show and, as we rounded the corner Martin Clunes was just standing there which was pretty surreal. We were ushered to the side whilst filming commenced. Coincidentally Port Isaac is very picturesque.

In Padstow we ate the nicest fish and chips I have ever tasted and managed to locate a lucky pixie for my mum. In Fowey we ate hot pasties from the bakery and shopped in the independent little shops selling quirky mugs and bits and bobs.

It seems to me as if Cornwall is just one gigantic hill! Every village was treacherously steep to climb and certainly a workout for the calves.

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All in all Cornwall is a beautiful part of the world and I throughly enjoyed our little holiday there. I would definitely go back!