Tregothnan has been home to the Boscawen family since 1335 and the private historic gardens and arboretum are amongst the largest in Cornwall. Apart from one weekend a year the gardens can only be visited by prior appointment, however, each spring the gates are opened for what is billed as the UK’s largest Charity Garden event.
Being a private residence it isn’t set up for visitors like Heligan or Trebah and there are areas that are closed off to the public. I kept having to remember that there is a reason there are no signs giving you information next to the tea plantations or the obligatory childrens activities. But there is something quite exciting about exploring someones private garden and I spent most of the visit wondering how much time the family actually spend in there, where they have bbqs and if they had a dog that they walked throughout the grounds.
I was surprised to see a camellia maze and the kids and I amazingly managed to find the middle without too much trouble (maybe getting lost so many times in the Glendurgan Maze has given us a second sense). We were rewarded by finding a full sized model cow – a bit random!
The weather was perfect to enjoy the estate and after two hours of strolling around the grounds we headed to the stable yards to sample the food offerings. I have to say that I was initially a little disappointed to see that the ice cream on offer wasn’t from one of the Cornish suppliers but the Kenyan Coffee ice cream was so divine so I will excuse the use of a Devon brand.
As Tregothnan is the location of the UK’s first tea plantation and despite being a coffee drinker I felt the need to have a cup of the local speciality and it tasted …….well like tea!
The event sells out every year and therefore after seeing the forecast we purchased our tickets in advance. Normally a Private Garden Visit starts at £65 per head (admittedly you are accompanied by one of the garden staff) but for the charity opening the entry fee this year was £10 for adults and free entry for children offering reasonable value for money.
I’m glad to have ticked a visit off My Bucket List and I do recommend it however, I’m not in any rush to go back – I’d rather visit some of the gardens who are set up for visitors (and especially families). I also love being able to see gardens at different stages and how they evolve with each season, so it is a real shame that the gardens are only opened to the general public the same time every year, but then again it’s better than not being able to enjoy this little part of Cornwall at all.
Have you been before? Did you go? I would love to know what you thought?
I had high expectations of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, especially after receiving lots of reports that it was better than Eden (which we love). So when they introduced a new locals pass, 2016 was going to be the year we finally made our first visit and ticket it off my bucket list.
The only downside of the Locals Pass was that you had to visit the garden in March to qualify, but with the school holidays starting the logical time to go was towards the end of the month and tie in their Easter celebrations. As with most long weekends there was an appalling weather forecast so we decided that Good Friday offered us the best opportunity to maximise the experience with a bit of sunshine. Thinking that everyone else would be doing the same we decided to arrive at opening time (10am).
Getting the pass sorted was easy, for one adult and two children over 5 it was £25 and we get to visit as many times as we want for a year.
The first thing that greets you is the giant’s head – this is one of the iconic pictures you regularly see of Heligan but it is just as impressive in the flesh – after the obligatory family photos in front of the head we moved on to the Easter Fun.
The additional Easter activities on offer were brilliant. The egg hunt involved finding over 100 eggs (we missed quite a few but still qualified for the chocolate bunny), there were newly hatched chicks to coo over, egg crazy golf, Easter egg craft, cress head making and my personal favourite an egg race. All activities were included in the price and were suitable for a wide variety of ages.
We got to cross the rope bridge, saw daffodils and magnolias, posed in front of the mud maid, climbed over the woodland playground…… Phew! After romping around the gardens for nearly three hours it was time for a late lunch which involved going back out through the entrance. I couldn’t quite believe the size of the queue – there must have been over 100 people waiting to get in. My advice to everyone visiting attractions in the school holidays is always to get there early (unless you are going to Ships & Castles swimming pool but that’s a different story). We had an amazing day and were ahead of the crowds so didn’t have to wait to participate in any of the extra activities.
The end of March even on such a sunny day probably isn’t the best time to see Heligan in all its glory and you can see some of the summer flowering plants coming to bud – but I can’t wait to go back – it certainly gives Eden a run for its money and defiantly worth the trek from Falmouth and now with the Locals Pass it is a real bargain!
To commemorate the gold medal winners at the 2012 Olympics, various postboxes around the UK, were repainted from their traditional red into gold. Originally intended to be a temporary measure, it was later decided the colour change would become a permanent tribute, with boxes additionally receiving their own special plaques. In Cornwall there are two boxes including one of the first to be painted in Penzance for Helen Glover, to commemorate her medal in the women’s coxless pair rowing alongside Heather Stanning, the second is in the wall of the Pandora Inn and painted in honour of Ben Ainslie. I love this legacy from the Olympics and I can’t believe that I have only just managed to see one of them with the next games nearly upon us. An added bonus for Ben’s post box – it’s the perfect excuse to visit the Pandora Inn!
Note to Royal Mail – it is looking a bit rusty and could do with a touch up!
Oh no …… I think the secret might be out – Eden really does put on good events! The World Pasty Championships is traditionally held on the weekend closest to St Pirans Day (the national day of Cornwall and an excuse to have a pasty if you ever needed one) and this year with it falling on a Saturday, a stellar line up including Kernow King and the Fishermans Friends and a sunny start to the day why would we not want to visit? Annoyingly though thousands of others thought the same and it was super busy!
We arrived just before 12pm and the final kids pasty making session was already fully subscribed (we were advised that it was full within an hour of the attraction opening) so we headed to the Mediterranean Biome to listen to the story tellers which we always enjoy. Then after a quick visit to the Rainforest we joined the long queue for a pasty – at £4.50 it is probably the most expensive pasty I have ever had but it was St Pirans Day and was actually very good!
The kids got to make a Cornish Flag (unassisted – always a bonus!) and then there was a crimping session held in the stage area. This more than made up for not being able to get into the pasty making session although my crimping efforts proved that I’m not Cornish!!!
By that time Kernow King had made his way to the stage – I had been hoping to bribe the kids so I could watch, but with the crowds it was too busy to get a good view – I took to watching five minutes through a gap in the side but the pull of ice cream was too much for the little ones and I had to give up. So we missed the Fishermans Friends and the Pasty Oscars but we had a lovely time celebrating St Piran. Would I go again next year? Not sure. We love Eden but maybe next St Pirans Day we will try something else, hopefully without such big crowds!
We are regulars at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall as your ticket entitles you to return as many times as you want for a year. At £35 for a family it is not a cheap day out but considering how often we go back it is an absolute bargin! The current Viking exhibition isn’t as good as the previous Search & Rescue and my two still gravitate towards the RNLI boat, jetski and life-raft which they can climb all over.
Every holiday the museum puts on trails and craft sessions which the kids love and they can play with glitter to their hearts content! Today the craft included these “Nebular Jars” – both my 5 & 7 year olds were able to make these unaided (always a bonus!) and they turned out really well. The museum was also host to a huge Space Odyssey planetarium dome which included an amazing virtual tour of the International Space Station to learn about Tim Peake’s mission. Once again another great day out at the NMMC – we are so lucky to have it on our door step.