Exploring The Lost Gardens Of Heligan

On Wednesday, it was my mum’s birthday and we decided to celebrate by doing something different. Neither of us had ever been to The Lost Gardens Of Heligan, despite having lived in Cornwall most of our lives. Our visit to Heligan coincided with a theatre production taking place in the gardens, so we also purchased tickets for that – review to follow in a separate blog post.

The play didn’t start until 7.45 pm so we decided not to set out too early. It was a rainy morning so we ate lunch at home before our hour-long journey to this popular tourist attraction in Pentewan, South Cornwall.

Upon arrival, mum was apparently ‘gasping for a cuppa’, so we had a quick look around the gift and farm shops before heading to the café for tea and cake. I bought an ‘Inspiritus’ candle (described as uplifting and inspirational – just what I need at the moment) and two new books, both set in Cornwall but at very different times. I’m secretly hoping that they will inspire me to write my own novel set in Cornwall; perhaps the candle will help too!

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So, once we had quenched our thirst and had a quick look at the map of the gardens, we set out to explore as much of the 200 acres as possible within the three-hour time frame we had. The sun was struggling to break through the clouds, but at least it was dry and mild; a rainy day wouldn’t be ideal for exploring these 400-year-old gardens.

The beginning of our walk took us past some of the sculptures Heligan is famous for, including the sleeping ‘Mud Maid’ and the ‘Giant’s Head’. These mystical creations are based on ancient Cornish myths and legends and I noticed in the gift shop that the ‘Mud Maid’ tale has been turned into a children’s story.

Situated amongst the stunning Cornish countryside with views over pastures, meadows and the sea, these ancient gardens are both breathtaking and diverse. Our little expedition took us through woodlands with spectacular views of grazing cattle and of the sea beyond; through pretty Victorian productive gardens; past emu’s, piglets and doves; up and down steep hills and pathways and across rope bridges and stepping stones.

But I have to say, my favourite part of the gardens was the ‘Jungle’ section (this is where the bridge and stepping stones were found) because it felt like entering a different country; a tropical paradise amidst these enchanting Cornish gardens.

I actually did feel a bit lost at times whilst wandering around the maze of gardens. Every so often referring to the map, I felt that I could visit several times and still see something new.

The beauty of the gardens definitely captured my imagination. I think it’s a shame that I didn’t visit Heligan as a child; I surely would have delighted in the magic of it all and perhaps found inspiration for one of the many stories or drawings I created.

I would definitely visit again and I think it’s a great place for families to explore. I noticed that they have a BBQ at lunch time during the summer and there’s plenty of space for picnics, with handy picnic blankets left in baskets for people to use.

Have you been to The Lost Gardens Of Heligan? What was your favourite part?

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