Day 9. The Eden Project, Mevagissey & Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

It was raining hard as we set off from our hotel in Bodmin on the 10 mile journey to St. Austell where we’d planned to have breakfast and a little look around the town.  Apart from a cosy pub for some breakfast, there seemed little in the town to interest us but to be fair, few places look appealing in the midst of a heavy downpour.

St. Austell high street
St. Austell high street

St. Austell is one of Cornwall’s largest towns and used to be a centre for mining.  During the mid 18th century large deposits of china clay, a mineral known as kaolin were discovered.  This created a boom time for the town when at its peak 65,000 tonnes were being extracted each year.  By 1910, Cornwall was producing 50% of the world’s china clay used in the production of fine porcelain, paint and rubber products but as with many other industries, it went into decline in the 1980’s due to cheaper foreign imports.  Large conical shaped spoil heaps have left their mark on the area and it was to one of the former china clay quarries that we were heading next.

The Eden Project, St. Austell
The Biomes of the Eden Project

It was only a ten minute drive from St. Austell to the Eden Project, a 35 acre patch of land that has been transformed from a barren china clay quarry into an oasis of greenery.  The attraction is clearly signposted and has numerous parking areas.  A car park attendant was directing traffic and we found it amusing when he enquired whether we were visiting the attraction or were wanting the drive through flu jab centre!

The Eden Project, Cornwall
The Eden Project

We’d pre-arranged our visit in advance and it didn’t matter that it was raining as we would be guaranteed warm and dry conditions inside the huge glass domes.  The Eden Project was established by an ecological charity to promote education about the natural world.  Standard adult tickets are £28.50 which is the same price as an annual pass so it’s worth considering if you might be returning to Cornwall again during the year.

Inside the biome at the Eden Project
Inside the Rainforest biome

From the visitor centre a pathway leads visitors through the landscaped gardens to the two biomes which are essentially giant greenhouses.  The biomes with connecting smaller domes have been designed to recreate the climate and vegetation of both the Rainforest and Mediterranean.

The Rainforest Biome, Eden Project
Inside the Rainforest Biome

Following a one way route, we entered the Rainforest biome first which is the larger of the two.  As soon as we entered, the humid atmosphere hit us, my glasses steamed up, and it really did feel for a moment as if we had been transported into the tropics.

Bamboo in the Rainforest biome at the Eden Project
Bamboo growing in the Rainforest Biome

Winding pathways took us through a bamboo tunnel, beside banana plantations and huge rubber trees.  An elevated rainforest walkway then takes visitors high above the tree canopy from where we could see swampy ponds and a waterfall cascading down a rock face.  It’s a great place for families as information boards indicate where everyday foodstuffs such as bananas, coffee, rice, sugar and spices grow around the world and the impact they have on local communities.

The elevated walkway, Rainforest Biome, Eden Project
The elevated walkway in the rainforest biome

A spacious cafe links the two biomes together and we passed through there to enter the cooler Mediterranean biome.  Here we were taken through the landscapes of the warm temperate regions of the Mediterranean, South Africa, California and Western Australia with displays of exotic plants growing in these regions.  There’s even a Mediterranean themed café where you can sit surrounded by bougainvillea amid a backdrop of exquisite Portuguese blue and white tiling.

The Mediterranean Biome, Eden Project
The Mediterranean Biome

There was more to see outdoors and with a break in the rain showers we were able to explore the gardens which are divided into different zones featuring a Cornish oasis, a sensory garden and an allotment.  With so much of interest in the two biomes and outdoors I would suggest setting aside a minimum of two hours to be able to see everything without rushing.

The landscaped gardens, Eden Project
Landscaped gardens surrounding the biomes

The quaint fishing village of Mevagissey was our next stop and being just six miles away it didn’t take us very long to get there.  We parked in the main car park located in the centre of the village paying just £1 to stay for an hour which we thought would be long enough for us to explore the small village and harbour.

Narrow streets in Mevagissey
The narrow streets of Mevagissey

Roads in Mevagissey are extremely narrow even by Cornish standards so I wouldn’t recommend attempting to drive through the village centre in a large vehicle unless you are an expert at reversing around sharp bends.

Mevagissey harbour, Cornwall
Mevagissey harbour

The village remains largely unspoilt from tourism and although its narrow streets are lined with shops, cafes and the occasional pub it’s a very peaceful little place.  Near the harbour we spotted a white washed home called The Watch House which still had an ancient stone mounting block outside its door.  This must have been very useful in the days of travelling around by horse.

Mevagissey harbour
Mevagissey harbour

The harbour-side is very pretty and even in such dismal conditions we enjoyed a walk around the working harbour with its small fleet of fishing boats.  The rows of pastel coloured cottages perched on the cliff side looked idyllic and must surely offer the best views in town.

Mevagissey harbour, Cornwall
Mevagissey harbour

 Our final destination of the day was The Lost Gardens of Heligan a short distance away.  If I’m honest, it really wasn’t the weather for visiting a garden but as our time slot had been pre-arranged we didn’t have much choice.  Standard adult admission to the gardens is £16.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan entrance
Entrance to the Lost Gardens of Heligan

The Lost Gardens of Heligan was lost to overgrowth after the Second World War and rediscovered by accident in 1990.  The 200 acre site comprises a botanical garden, ancient woodland and a jungle along with a working estate and farm.

Jungle pathway, Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
The jungle pathway, Lost Gardens of Heligan

 After leaving the visitor centre we followed a path down a steep sided valley to the jungle.  This area is sheltered, forming a microclimate up to five degrees warmer than the rest of the gardens allowing exotic plants to thrive.  The heart of the jungle area is known as Fern Gulley from where steps lead down to a large pond.  The path then winds its way among towering ferns and exotic plantings of giant rhubarb, bananas, palms and bamboo.

Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall
Lakeside Paths

One of the longest Burmese rope bridges in Britain stretches 100 feet (30 metres) above the jungle floor providing stunning views of the tree canopy.  After crossing the bridge we continued into the lost valley passing some working charcoal kilns.  The kilns produce charcoal for barbecues which we discovered later was for sale in the gift shop.

Burmese rope bridge, Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Burmese rope bridge

The rain had become even heavier which made it very slippery underfoot as the paths had become very muddy.  We proceeded carefully trying to avoid the puddles returning uphill to the Pleasure Gardens which are laid out in a formal style with walled gardens and fountains.

Walled garden in the Lost Gardens of Heligan
The walled garden

The adjacent Kitchen Garden is approached by an attractive archway and contains 300 varieties of mostly heritage, fruit, vegetables and herbs which are cultivated to supply the Heligan Kitchen with seasonal produce for its cafe.

Kitchen garden, Lost Gardens of Heligan
The Kitchen Garden

To round off our visit we explored Home Farm which is home to traditional and rare breed livestock and a great place for children.  Large, open pens contain a variety of animals including pigs, sheep, and poultry whilst in an adjoining field we met a pedigree shire horse called Courage.

Shire Horse, Home Farm, Lost Gardens of Heligan
Courage, the Shire Horse at Home Farm

 The Lost Gardens are a really lovely place to visit on a nice day, being suitable for the whole family with jungle paths, a farm and adventure playground to keep children amused.

Rare breeds at The Lost Gardens of Heligan
A rare breed pig at Home Farm

Before setting off back to Bodmin we popped into the Heligan Kitchen cafe at the top of the site for a much needed warm up.  We then made our way back to the hotel after a rather soggy but nonetheless enjoyable day out.  As they say, you can plan most things but not the weather!

 

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Eden Project, Cornwall

 

90 thoughts on “Day 9. The Eden Project, Mevagissey & Lost Gardens of Heligan, Cornwall

  1. jasonlikestotravel

    The Eden Project looks incredible and well worth a visit. It’s great that you can pick up an annual ticket at the same price, I think it’s worthwhile buying the annual pass on the chance you may go back.
    Looks like you had a wonderful day 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I agree it’s definitely a good idea to get an annual pass if it’s the same price because there’s nothing to lose even if you don’t get back within the year. The Eden Project is really worth visiting so I hope you get to visit at some point Jason. Hope your week is going well. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

      1. jasonlikestotravel

        I’m sure I’ll get down there at some point. I’m heading down South in June but only as far as Eastbourne haha.
        Hope your week is going well too 🙂

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Have you visited the huge greenhouse in Brussels? That is worth a visit. I can remember the many visits to Korea in winter time and seeing bubble greenhouses on the farms I passed by bus between Seoul and Puson. They grow crops there throughout their long cold winters.

    Liked by 3 people

  3. There are some aggressive seagulls in Mevagissey – you better hide with your fish’n’chips 😁 The Lost Gardens of Heligan is a wonderful place. We had some much fun on the rope bridge but also enjoyed walking around different sections. You cannot get bored there!

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Indeed Shane, the dreary wet weather certainly hit us when we ventured back outdoors. The Eden Project has been extremely well planned and I’ve heard that there are plans afoot to build a similar one in Morecambe! Thanks for taking the time to read and comment, it’s much appreciated. Marion

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Looks like absolute tropical paradise at the Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan! What a way to get away from the rain, as well as away from chillier weather…the white houses perched along the cliffside of Mevagissey harbor look absolutely quaint as well, and I can imagine it must’ve been a tranquil road trip through this part of England! Thanks again for sharing more of Cornwall with us. 🙂

    Liked by 3 people

  5. Thanks for the trip down memory lane, Marion 🙂 My trip to St Austell was my last holiday before the pandemic hit (we didn’t own a car at that time, and although the bus links made it a good base, there was little of interest in the town itself). I thoroughly enjoyed exploring the Eden Project’s biomes – they’re another level of botanic garden! – and the cream teas in Cornwall certainly lived up to expectations! We didn’t make it to the Lost Gardens of Heligan so it was nice to see what they looked like.

    Liked by 4 people

  6. Bad weather you certainly had, but what lovely green bubbles to escape the downpour. The Eden Project reminds me of the Gardens by the Bay in Singapore, just on a smaller scale. Both gardens are absolute gems to explore and Cornwall keeps climbing ever higher on my wish-list with each article you post. Another epic day on the road! Hope you are well, Marion.

    Liked by 4 people

    1. I’ve also visited the Gardens by the Bay and the Eden Project does have some similarities. I’m also pleased we had an opportunity to visit The Lost Gardens despite the downpour. Thanks for reading and commenting. It’s been warm enough here today to take our work out onto the patio table which made a nice change. Hope the weather is improving for you as well.

      Liked by 3 people

  7. What a fully packed day. Too bad about the rain, but you are like us, a little moisture did not stop you. At least the biomes were dry. Cornwall seems to have a lot of interesting corners. Thanks for sharing Marion. Stay well. Allan

    Liked by 3 people

    1. Thanks for taking an interest in this post Allan.At last we were dry inside the Eden Project but we still made the most of the day despite the poor weather. Just had lunch in the garden for the first time this year. Need a cardigan but it’s pleasant in the sun M.

      Liked by 1 person

  8. You’ve probably had the rainiest day yet on your trip … but still managed some beautiful photo’s!
    I was wondering what those white domes were when I’ve had a look at your photo’s initially – the Eden project is quite amazing … and very happy to read that South Africa featured in the Mediterranean dome! Yes, you will indeed see a lot of Bougainvillea here in South Africa (even in our little town).
    The Burmese rope bridge might be a challenge for me … 😳.
    Great post … in difficult weather conditions!

    Liked by 5 people

    1. Exactly, the weather wasn’t great but we made the best of it and kept dry at the Eden Project giving us a taste of South Africa too. One day hopefully I’ll get to visit your country for myself too, that will be something to look forward to. Marion

      Liked by 2 people

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