When we visit Cornwall we usually plan in a trip to The Eden Project but having never previously visited The Lost Gardens of Heligan we decided to ensure that we squeezed it into our plans and I am so glad that we did. Here’s how we got on visiting The Lost Gardens of Heligan…
About The Lost Gardens of Heligan
“Heligan is one of the most mysterious estates in England. Lost to the brambles of time since the outbreak of WW1, this Sleeping Beauty was re-awakened in 1990 to become Europe’s largest garden restoration project. Today Heligan’s 200 acres are a paradise for the explorer, wildlife, plant lover and garden romantic“
The gardens are designed to capture everybody’s imaginations and meet a wide range of interests from stunning flowers to growing vegetables, you can also see animals, play in the adventure playgrounds and navigate your way through a jungle. Heligan are gardens that you will want and need to return to because there is just so much to take in and enjoy.
One thing we noticed about the gardens is that they aren’t really signposted so make sure you have your satnav at the ready. I think this really added to the whole feel of the attraction – they were lost and they still almost feel that way. Tucked away in stunning countryside, you don’t think you are following the right road but suddenly there they are to be discovered!
There is a large car park and we were directed by staff when we arrived. Everything was well signposted and it was easy to find the toilets and then the entrance as soon as we wandered through. Due to going in August 2021 with some Covid rules still in place, we booked online before arriving and made sure we had our masks. We also chose to purchase a guidebook so we could learn more about the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
Entering the Gardens
As soon as you enter the gardens there are many ways you could choose to walk and which you opt for are completely up to you. To the right are winding paths leading to vegetable patches, walkways of ferns and waterways, open green areas and more, and to the left leads you down into the forest. There really is so much to discover which adds to the experience and certainly gets the kids enjoying themselves.
With each turn, there was just more to take in and I am sure that with each visit you would notice something new and different.
Our first stop was at the vegetable and fruit gardens which immediately had the children drawn in. They loved spotting what was growing and seeing it on such a large scale.
Diggory The Scarecrow is a fun touch…
From here there are several ways you can turn and my advice here is to check every building and path because you could easily walk past and miss something that is hidden away.
The more we walked, the more we said wow!
Whether you like flowers or green spaces, trees or ferns, there is something for everyone…
There are even fantastic play areas for the kids to enjoy and they had organised activities going on throughout the day in the summer holidays which we didn’t have time to look into but if you had a full day here you could definitely take advantage of it:
One of the biggest attractions here is the jungle and its rope bridge. This is a bit of a walk from the play areas but is all signposted and is worth it all.
Again, there is just so much to take in as you wander through…
Depending on the time of year you visit, you may have to queue up to go across the bridge. We had a bit of a wait but it wasn’t too bad and it certainly didn’t impose on our visit. There are a few rules in terms of crossing it – no heels or flip flops, no small children etc – but there wasn’t anybody there checking so most just used their own common sense (yes we crossed in flip flops and with small children!) It didn’t feel dangerous though and the children thought it was a wonderful adventure.
Once across you simply follow the paths back to the main one and here you can choose to go further into the forest which we didn’t get the chance to do as we were limited on time. Instead, we headed back up to see the animals.
And then onto find the famous Mud Maid and The Giant’s Head:
There were snack huts, a cafe and a barbecue area for you to choose from. We chose to get food from the cafe and I was really pleased to see such a great selection of vegetarian, vegan and plastic free options as well as a variety of recycling bins in which to place your rubbish correctly. We ate outside but had a serious issue with wasps and had to move 3 times to escape them!! One touch that was really lovely was that they had a local band playing and dancers came to show some traditional Cornish moves.
Most of the 13-acre Gardens are accessible and there is also access to the Steward’s House. However, the jungle and wider estate are not easily accessible for all due to the gradients of the pathways, the boardwalks, steps and rope bridge. The signposts made it clear where was steep and where could be tricky but the office do provide maps if you wanted to be sure.
Dogs are welcomed at the Lost Gardens of Heligan as long as they are well-behaved and kept on leads.
Opening Hours and Prices
You can view their full opening hours and prices on the website here.
The gift shop is packed with books, toys, clothing, bags, plants, gardening equipment, candles, toiletries and more. It is a great place to pick up some gifts for birthdays and Christmas.
I think you can guess! Yes, we loved it here and will most definitely be returning when we next visit Cornwall. There is so much more we want to see and do at The Lost Gardens of Heligan.
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