Beautiful Cornwall (2) – Eden and Heligan

This is in continuation of my previous post on Cornwall, where on the first day we had spent some time exploring and experiencing the coastline around Fowey in South Cornwall. The next two days we intended to visit two of the most famous gardens of Cornwall – The Eden Project and the Lost Gardens of Heligan.

The Eden project is not your local beautiful garden, it is much more, a world famous site and a unique botanical fete.  It is a very ambitious project that attempts to assemble the vastly varied flora of the world at a single site. 

We decided to walk the 3.5 mile distance from our hotel to Eden using the walking directions left behind by an American tourist who had walked a lot in these areas. Our sense of heart-thumping, adrenaline boosting adventure was fulfilled when the footpath led us straight through some dense undergrowth into a pasture with around 30 cows and bulls, and the usually docile creatures violently chased us off the pasture back onto the path! I can still recall all the bulls snorting at us from behind the gate of the pasture. We later got to know that many footpaths in Britain lead through pastures which the farmers don’t like one bit, and so we shouldn’t have hoped that help would arrive in case we had been cornered by the beasts and gored to death. A passer-by joked – “Those cows don’t know that you won’t even eat them?”

Anyway, all this meant we took an eternity to reach Eden using an alternative walking route (the main road). The park is built in a huge crater site and has three main areas – The outdoor biome, the rain forest biome and the mediterranean biome. The two indoor biomes look like huge blisters or bubbles, appearing to have landed straight out of space.

The Eden Project

The creators of the park have created a whole rainforest and a whole temperate mediterranean vegetation region within the two biomes. This means that even if it is snowing outside, one can roam around in a hot and humid rainforest with huge rubber palms, tropical fruit trees and exotic spice plantation. The vegetation found in South-east Asia (Indonesia/Malaysia), Africa and Brazil & Central America finds prominent place in the rainforest biome. The Mediterranean biome hosts vegetation from the Mediterranean region as well as South Africa, California and Australia. The outdoor area displays vegetation and agriculture suited for colder climates in area like the UK itself.

Eden entrance

The whole park is run as an educational charity and is focused on infotainment. There are giant installations to entertain the kids as well as regular shows and contests on photography etc. I paid the entrance fee as a gift, which means I now hold a pass to enter the park for free anytime during this year.

Flowers contest at Eden

Despite its magnificent concept and scale, the Eden project didn’t really appeal to me. I guess I was just expecting too many flowers and beauty all around, and the real-world vegetation displayed in the biomes looked as if I could have watched the whole thing on discovery instead of having to come all the way to the park. But well, that’s just me. The Eden project does remain the number one attraction in Cornwall and for its really unique concept, is definitely worth a visit. It usually takes about 4-5 hours to view the gardens properly, although one can easily spend the whole day as well.

After Eden, we came back to Tywardreath and spent some time exploring the village’s fish n chips shops and pub. It is a really sleep village so we decided to call it an early night ourselves.

Next in line was Heligan. The lost gardens of Heligan is about 20 miles from Tywardreath / St. Austell. We decided that is a walk we weren’t really up for, so took a cab there instead for a 25 min journey. The first thing that struck me on arrival there was the beautiful flowers all around the entrance and I instantly knew that this was the place I’d like better, and I did.

Flowers at Heligan

The lost gardens of Heligan are named so because they were lost for a long while after the Victorian era before they were re-discovered and reclaimed from the undergrowth. Its architect, who later went on to build Eden, restored the gardens to their lost splendour. These gardens are divided into 3 main parts – The Northern Gardens, the Jungle and the Lost Valley.

Heligan

The Northern Gardens are a great mix of beautiful meadows, a summer house, an italian garden, a sundial garden, a vegatable garden and lots more. There are installations and gardening tool collections, wishing wells, and what not.

Gardening tools collection

There is much to explore and one just feels like getting lost amongst all the beautiful beautiful plants and trees, with strange exotic smells of flowers, sunlight filtering through palm leaves and the earth covered in pink, purple, white and red flowers in places .

Flowers at Heligan

Resting maiden

The gardens are again a walkers’ paradise and take at least 3 hours just to keep walking from one end to the other. The jungle is an area of dense undergrowth overlooking a marsh in some areas and the lost valley is a stretch of lovely vegetation around a stream flowing through the valley. The garden also has a small wildlife area where one can spot birds, including kingfishers and rare woodpeckers, as well as white doves and owls. Good place for the kids.

Bird-spotting

There is a huge cafe and shopping as well that keeps visitors satisfied. We spend around 5 hours here, and then took a bus to the nearby fishing village of Mevagissey.

After a short exploration of the busy and bustling village (and lunch of special cornish sandwiches and tea), we headed back to Par (Tywardreath) from where we had to take our train back to London. 

7 Comments

  • nandanjha says:

    While I slept thinking about the drive to Kedarnath (courtesy Rajeev’s post), I woke up amid beautiful flowers :) I am definitely traveling a lot.

    Great post for a monday morning, I would say.

  • Nomadic Matt says:

    I’ll be in cornwall next week and i’m going to check this eden project out!

  • Julie says:

    The Eden project is truly amazing one of the kind. It is a must visit place. The variety it offers can never be competed by any other like projects.

    Well the pictures that you have posted down here is really great.

    Greetings

  • Rahul says:

    Thanks. The pictures were mostly taken by my friend and fellow traveller.

  • manish khamesra says:

    Rahul,

    Second picture from the end gives the impression of a “Sleeping Rakshashi”. Though the post is nicely written I keep wondering that there are far many places in India better than that, the only thing is that we don’t advertisement them so nicely.

    Its a pleasure to travel with you, most interesting was you being chased by the cows and bulls :)

  • manish khamesra says:

    I loved the picture of beautiful pink flowers at the entrance.

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