Searching for somewhere cool & mysterious to explore in the South of Cornwall? Look no further, as I have a Cornish hidden gem that should be high on your ‘to do’ list: The Lost Gardens of Heligan!
A place that’s known as one of the most mysterious estates in England. But what makes this place so special, and why exactly is it ‘lost’?
Read on to find out!
In this article...
What’s the address for The Lost Gardens of Heligan?
You’ll find this hidden gem not too far from the charming market town of St. Austell. The full address for the Lost Gardens of Heligan is:
The Lost Gardens of Heligan
How did the gardens of Heligan become lost?
The outbreak of WW1 saw the estates workforce switch their gardening tools for guns, as they went off and fought for their country in the trenches. Sadly many of these men lost their lives and never returned home. Over time, this vibrant and flourishing estate became encased in a dense and unruly blanket of brambles and thorns. As nature thrived, The Lost gardens of Heligan sadly kissed goodbye to daylight and fell derelict. Thankfully, sometime later in 1990 the gardens were rediscovered and became Europe’s largest garden restoration project!
Places to stay near the Lost Gardens in Cornwall
We tied in our visit to The Lost Gardens of Heligan whilst enjoying a staycation at the beautifully renovated Blue Bee Cottage. Situated in the medieval town of St.Columb Major, the cosy cottage is only a 30 minute drive away.
If you’d rather stay somewhere even closer to the lost gardens. Then your best option would be basing yourself in St. Austell, which is less than a 15 minute drive. it’s also one of the largest towns in Cornwall, so you’ll find plenty of accommodation options there.
When’s the best time to visit Heligan?
This is mostly down to personal preference, and what sort of weather you want. Do you visualise yourself soaking up the sun-rays in shorts and sandals, or protecting yourself from the elements in a raincoat and walking boots? Also think about the type of scenery you prefer. Are you wanting to see a rainbow of blooms during the summer, or fiery autumn leaves later in the year?
We visited the lost gardens on a crisp winters day in December, which meant the crowds were non existent and most of the autumn leaves had fallen. As the seasons change, so do the vistas. Just be prepared for the busyness’s that comes during the warmer summer months, especially with school holidays and the welcome return of sunshine. If you want things to be a little quieter, perhaps opt for a chilly wintery visit!
How much does it cost to get into The Lost Gardens of Heligan?
There’s a vast range of admission options and prices when it comes to visiting The Lost Gardens of Heligan, so i’ll try and break it down for you.
Lets start with standard admission tickets:
Adults: £18.50, children aged 5-17: £8.50, and under 5’s are free!
Now lets take a look at family tickets options, as they offer a couple different flavours which is a welcome novelty! We all know that not all modern day families consist of 2 adults and two children. So its nice to see they have branched out from the usual constraints when it comes to family tickets!
The family ticket for 2 adults and up to 3 children costs £48. Or they have another family ticket for 1 adult and up to 3 children for £30.
There’s also a discounted rate for students at £11 per ticket.
Can a standard ticket for Heligan only be used once?
If you’re on holiday all week, and you plan on visiting a couple times during your trip. Just let the ticket office know when you purchase your ticket, and they will kindly upgrade your standard ticket to a 7 day pass so that it can be used all week free of charge!
Can you get a Lost Garden of Heligan membership?
If you live nearby and would make use of visiting here multiple times throughout the year (lucky you!) Then you could save yourself a fair chunk of money with a well priced Lost Garden’s of Heligan annual membership.
The adult membership is £37.50, a couples membership will set you back £70, and a child’s annual membership is only £10! That means, anything over 2 visits and you’re basically attending for free!
If you wanted a family pass, it will admit the card holders plus up to 3 named children for £80.
What can you do at the Lost Gardens of Heligan?
Now it doesn’t take a scientist to know there’s some gardens involved here, but there’s also an entire estate and a 60 acre woodland to explore! Theres plenty to keep you busy with all the different themed gardens, an impressive Burmese rope bridge in the heart of a UK jungle, and The Lost Valley. Theres also a gift and plant shop, plus a restaurant that cooks up all the fresh produce they grow here. The Lost Gardens of Heligan also showcase different events throughout the year, like Christmas light trails and beekeeping workshops.
Whilst exploring the estate you’ll most likely spot some wildlife along the way. You could discover badgers, barn owls, hedgehogs, and if you’re lucky, you might see a king fisher perched by the pond. We had a sweet little robin fly out, which was so friendly that it almost landed on James’ hand! There’s also a giant bug hotel, honeybee observation hive and some farm animals to say hello to as well.
What are the different types of gardens at Heligan
It’s actually a little mad how many different types of gardens there are in Heligan. All of them have completely different styles, plants and designs which makes them all really fun to explore.
The productive garden: This is where they grow over 300 varieties of heritage fruit, vegetables, salad and herbs. If you go to the Heligan Kitchen for lunch, you’ll be able to taste some of the fresh produce too! James had one of their roast dinners which he thoroughly enjoyed and I had a delicious slice of lemon cake. Perfect after a lovely morning spent wandering around the grounds.
The pleasure grounds: These were a symbol of wealth, and they provided a romantic place to relax and soak in the sunshine. This garden is full of pretty paths, bright Rhododendrons and and a tranquil cherub like water feature.
The jungle: This is the only outdoor jungle in the UK! The wooden footpath winds it way through the jungle, where you’ll be surrounded by tall palm trees & giant rhubarb plants. But the best part has to be the added adventure that the Burmese rope bridge brings! It’s considered the longest one in Britain, and stretches 100 feet above the jungle floor. We were so lucky when we went as we had the bridge to ourselves!
Which is best, Eden Project or Lost Gardens of Heligan?
I think they are both worthy of a visit as they are quite different experiences. Perhaps if your Cornish holiday is an absolute washout all week, then maybe head to the Eden Project as the majority of it is indoors!
How long do you need to spend at The Lost Gardens of Heligan?
With over 200 acres to explore, you could easily spend an entire day here. At a minimum, you’d need 3-4 hours to get a good taste of what this place has to offer.
Can you buy plants at Heligan?
The plant shop sells locally sourced perennials, ferns and lots more. So you can bring some inspiration from The Lost Gardens of Heligan back home with you!
How big are the Lost Gardens?
The Lost Gardens of Heligan is spread across a whopping 200 acres, and involves a lot of walking. If you’re coming in the winter, you might want to wear some sturdy walking boots as some of the paths can be quite steep and slippery in places.
Are dogs allowed to visit Heligan?
Yes! Well behaved dogs are most welcome to join in with a walk around the Lost Gardens of Heligan. They must be kept on a lead at all times, and you’ll find dog poo bins dotted across the gardens. All of which are clearly marked on your free garden map that you’re given when you arrive.
Is parking free at The Lost Gardens of Heligan?
Yes, you’ll find plenty of free parking at Heligan!
Shopping at The Lost Gardens of Heligan
If you fancy doing a little bit of retail therapy whilst you’re here, you’ll find a total of 3 shops to peruse your way through:
Heligan shop: The perfect place to find a gift for someone special. Expect to see home furnishings, outdoor goods, as well as stationary, books, jewellery and toys.
Plant sales: For the green-fingers amongst us! In here you’ll find plenty of locally sourced plants, along with seeds and gardening tools.
The food hall: In here you’ll find classic gifts such as indulgent fudge, chutneys and sweet Cornish honey. They also stock tasty treats which have been inspired from the flavours of the Heligan gardens.
What time is Heligan open?
This will depend on what month and day you plan on visiting. In general, Heligan is open between 10am-5pm daily, but during November occasional days are reduced to 2pm close, and all of december is 10-2pm.
Places to eat at The Lost Gardens of Heligan
There are two places to eat here, and both options offer delicious menus to tantalise your tastebuds.
Heligan Kitchen: Offers hearty cooked breakfasts and tasty soups, to something like lamb and pearl barley stew. They have plenty of vegan, vegetarian and gluten friendly options too. The Heligan Kitchen is open from 9am-4pm.
Steward’s House: Is open from 10am-3pm during the week, and stays open until 4pm at the weekends. On this smaller menu you’ll find items such as fluffy jacket potatoes, smoked bacon rolls, and a traditional ploughman’s platter.
Top tip: You don’t need a ticket to gain access to Heligan Kitchen, Shop and Plant Centre. So even if you’re not exploring the gardens, you can come for a delicious meal.
What is the Heligan night garden?
Much like Longleat’s impressive ‘Festival of Light’, Heligan does something similar called ‘Heligan night garden’. They light up lots of fun shaped lanterns all along the accessable garden trail, to create a magical twilight stroll.
This walk will take roughly 1 hour to complete (depending on how long you stop to admire the enchanting lanterns of course!)
There is so much to see and do at The Lost Gardens of Heligan that you could easily spend an entire day here. Take your time wandering around all the different gardens and enjoy spotting some wildlife along the way. Don’t skip a visit to the Heligan Kitchen for a delicious meal or slice of cake before you head home.