The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Giant's Head Sculpture

The Lost Gardens of Heligan are found in Mevagissey, a small town, right next to St. Austell, Cornwall, United Kingdom. They are a bit hard to find initially but if you ever find yourself in Cornwall, it is absolutely worth the stop. I traveled to this area of England specifically to go to the Lost Gardens. While I was in the area, I found that there were a number of wonderful things to do in St. Austell and around Cornwall, a seaside area on the southwest peninsula of England. 

Wider estate.

Garden House
 The Manor was first built in 1200.  In 1569, the Tremayne Family purchased the Heligan Estate. It was the beginning of a 400 year family history on the estate. Each generation added its own unique touch to the property, expanding it into the multitude of gardens that were found when the property was rediscovered in 1990. It had been in disrepair since the First World War. A massive restoration effort was launched once the property was rediscovered. It involved descendants of the Tremayne family, the County Horticultural Society and local advocates. Each year new gardens are completed according to the master plan for refurbishment.  It was first opened to the public in 1992.

The 200 acre estate houses extensive walking trails, multiple large gardens, a jungle, and on a clear day, sea views from the wider estate.  My love of trees, which is never satiated, was overwhelmed with the things I found on the long walking trails. A tea house can be found in the center of the estate with requisite drinks, snacks and a decent lunch selection. I was there on a slightly chilly day and the warm tea and sandwich were a perfect refueling in the middle of my exploration. Near the entrance there is a larger cafeteria, garden shop and gift shop. Just outside the entrance in the parking area, is a farm shop with a wonderful selection of high quality items.

Most people have never heard of these gardens. The ones that have, usually know of it because of widely published photographs of a few unique sculptures that reside on its grounds. They were created during the restoration and commissioned specifically for the property and to blend in with the environment. The Mud Maid (below) and the Head of a Giant (top of page) were created by Sue & Pete Hill in 1998. If you want to make sure you see these first before other exploration, take the woodland path to the right after you pay your admission. The masses will most likely be going left. Just a few minutes down the path the Giant's Head will greet you. 

The Mud Maid. 

Top Tips

 It is not well signed until you are quite close to the property.

This estate is for all ages and has something for everyone.

It is still a partially functioning estate with grazing animals like sheep, pigs and cows, mind your feet.

This is an all weather, all season attraction.

Wear your walking shoes. If it has been raining, wear your boots or wellies. The trails are well manicured but they can get muddy.

Admission is 11 pounds sterling for adults. 10 for seniors, Children ages 5-16, 6 and children under 5 are free.

Unfortunately there are no multiple day passes. A two day pass would be a great addition to the options as they currently only offer a day pass.

Spend the whole day.

Compasses and maps are provided with admission.

Don’t miss the walled garden and the massive rhododendron tree on the backside of it.

Head down to Mevagissey for dinner. The town is right on the water.

St.Austell is about 5-6 hours from London. Traffic on Saturdays in the summer is very bad because of the 
rental change over for properties on the Cornwall coast.  I learned this the hard way.

Check out The Elms Guest House B&B . I had a great stay there. Their small annex room is great for solo travelers. The main house rooms are also very comfortable. Very helpful and nice proprietors.

Learn more at The Lost Gardens of Heligan's website.