Lost Gardens of Heligan | Kidadl

Lost Gardens of Heligan

Kidadl.com is supported by its audience. When you purchase through links on our site, we may earn an affiliate commission. Read our Terms & Conditions for further information.

  • Visit the iconic statues of Heligan, they appear to grow out of the ground itself, plus take a trip along the 100ft rope bridge as you swaying above large-leafed ferns and tropical jungle plants.
  • Don't miss out on the Northern Gardens, where you can see the Flower Garden, Melon Yard and kitchen garden, where food for the on-site tearooms is grown.
  • The wider estate has 200 acres of ancient woodland, pastures, ponds and lakes, plus the bluebells of the Lost Valley, where you can spot kingfishers, otters and Cornish cattle.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan, or the Cornwall Gardens, is a mysterious estate in England. First created by members of the Cornish Tremayne family, the gardens were abandoned during the outbreak of World War I and lost to the brambles of time since. Luckily this hidden gem, a Sleeping Beauty of sorts, was re-vitalised in 1990 to become Europe’s largest garden restoration project.

The delightful Lost Gardens of Heligan offers over 200 acres of ancient land for you to discover, a paradise for the explorer, wildlife, plant lover and garden romantic. You can even cross the Burmese rope bridge, and trek right through the Jungle, the only Burmese rope bridge in the UK, and one of the longest.

The Lost Gardens of Heligan is a National Collection Holder, granted in 2008 by Plant Heritage for its unique and historic National Collection. There are laminated maps that visitors can borrow, and these have plant lists that help you identify both the historic camellias and rhododendrons in The Lost Gardens. There are photographs and research available that name much of the historic collection, and this can be viewed in the Heligan Gardens Shop.

Step back in time at the Northern Gardens, with stunning flowers and over 20 varieties of tasty fruit and vegetables, even home to a melon plot. Take a gander at the 200-year-old Pleasure Grounds, of which there are a unique range of unexpected features, hidden gems and romantic structures, linked by a network of walks and trails. The kids will love uncovering these spots and learning about the 150 year old rhododendrons and camellias.

Don't miss out on the Lost Gardens of Heligan events, from popular Heligan Wild Week in May to the nostalgic summer events programme, right through to Halloween and Christmas, there is always seasonal, festive, nature-loving fun for the whole family to enjoy.

With one jungle, acres of raised boardwalks, humungous exotic plants, pools, wildlife and one of the longest Burmese Rope Bridges in Britain, there's something for everyone to enjoy at the Lost Gardens of Heligan, perfect for any budding Indiana Jones or Dora the Explorer. This sub-tropical garden, as well as abundant with exotic plants, it’s also home to some of the earliest dinosaur food, known as Tree Ferns. These plants that dinosaurs fed on are still alive today, can you spot them in the Lost Gardens of Heligan?

With the Adventure Play area, the little ones can climb, scramble and slide their way around the play area, letting their imaginations run wild in the Lost Gardens of Heligan. This natural play area brings families together in the heart of the Lost Gardens of Heligan estate and nature. After some running around in the Lost Gardens of Heligan, be sure to check out Hegelian Farm animals, where, throughout the Estate, you can discover a collection of heritage and rare livestock of all sorts of animals, along with a variety of rare poultry. All the Heligan animals have their own allure, but the cute piglets usually steal the show.

Once you've said hello to the bigger animals, visit the Insect Hotel, situated on the Georgian Ride, and located deep in ancient Heligan woods, you can find the Ritz of Insect Hotels, which offers a wide range of nesting space for a host of insect and invertebrate life. See which creatures will you discover, there's much to uncover.

Why not go and explore the Jungle hosting a huge range of exotic plantings and foliage at the Lost Gardens of Heligan? This area includes a large tunnel of towering bamboo and has its own microclimate, which is approximately five degrees warmer than the Northern Gardens. Here you can even bring the family dog along with you on a lead, and everyone can enjoy the fun this garden has to offer, so get exploring.

After a day spent exploring the Lost Gardens of Heligan, why not stay overnight? Pentewan Sands Holiday Park in Cornwall is an excellent option for families, especially if you're looking to visit the Lost Gardens of Heligan. Pitch your tent or caravan right next to the golden beach and stay in a delightful, luxury holiday home and enjoy fantastic facilities.

If you are looking for more fun in Cornwall, make sure to visit the Eden Project, for more garden, nature-loving fun. And for those after some local history, Pendennis Castle is a must, with Tudor guns and more.

What to know before you go

  • In terms of places to eat at Heligan, enjoy the finest home-reared meat and locally sourced ingredients. Whether you fancy a traditional Cornish Cream Tea or to sample some of the heritage fruit and vegetables grown at Heligan, the Heligan Kitchen & Bakery is worth a visit.
  • From summer salads and barbecues in our picnic areas to warming winter soups and stews beside the roaring log burner, there is something for everyone here.
  • There are many toilets facilities for visitors, including baby changing facilities. There are both left and right-hand transfer accessible toilets for wheelchair users and ambulant visitors. These have RoomMate installed to assist our blind and visually impaired visitors.
  • Changing Places toilet is found within the main set of toilets, which is equipped with a height-adjustable, free-standing, changing bench with a safe working load of up to 190kg.
  • There are accessible parking bays located near to the entrance, about 50m away from entrance facilities, these bays are on flat ground, with compacted gravel-dust surface.
  • Assistance dogs on harnesses are welcome year-round and water bowls are available around the gardens.
  • Manual wheelchairs can be borrowed, for free from our Ticket Office on a first-come, first-served basis.
  • Most of the 13-acre Gardens (including Productive Gardens, Pleasure Grounds and Home Farm) and the Steward’s House is accessible. The Gardens lie on a gradual downhill gradient, so make sure remember this when you make your way back to the exit. The Jungle and Wider Estate are not easily accessible to everyone. The gradients of the pathways here are steep, and some of the route involves wooden boardwalk and steps. Therefore it is advised that wheelchair users refrain from entering these areas.

Getting there

  • Located 1.5 miles from the South West Coast Path, you can walk from both the east and the west. The villages of Pentewan and Mevagissey are great for detour points and places to link to the footpaths and cycle ways leading you to The Lost Gardens.
  • St Austell is the nearest Railway Station, just five miles from the gardens. There is a TIC office located within the Station, who can advise you on bus links to the gardens on arrival.
  • A seasonal ferry service operates between local ports of Fowey and Mevagissey, with an approximately 30-minute walk (1.5 miles) from Heligan. Ask the ferry crew for a map to assist you in reaching the gardens.
  • For those driving, there is an on-site car park. The Gardens are around a 30-minute drive via the A390 from central Cornwall.

More amazing things to do