My day out: winter at The Lost Gardens of Heligan

Heligan is Europe’s largest garden restoration project, and although I have visited before, it was always with an elderly or disabled relative meaning I’ve had to limit myself to the section of the gardens at the top of the valley where it is most level.

However, on this occasion I was accompanied by an energetic friend who could join me in a full exploration along the Woodland Walk, down to The Jungle and back up through The Lost Valley; finishing in The Kitchen Garden and Home Farm.

I partly knew what to expect, but gardens always vary between seasons and I was looking forward to venturing further afield. I loved the Burma Rope Bridge - it’s great fun, and being a quiet day we had it to ourselves.

Unfortunately, the rain arrived earlier than forecast; the jungle did provide some shelter under the dense ferns but the Georgian Ride path had to be closed as it was too wet underfoot.

It was good to see that there was ample seating around the estate to either rest up or enjoy a picnic. We timed our visit well to see camellias, rhododendrons, magnolias, and daffodils all out in bloom.

Families can make use of the play area and visit the seasonal animals in the barn, although some areas are a bit steep for pushchairs. It’s an ideal attraction for horticulturalists, walkers and dogs on leads.

The café was closed for the winter, so we ate at Heligan Kitchen. It serves homegrown food, estate-reared meat and their own on-site bakery products. It is all delicious but just a little pricey. My friend thought the quiche was top marks. There is also plant sales, a gift shop and Cornwall’s award winning Lobbs Farm Shop onsite.

A return visit will be on the cards in late June or early July when most flowers will be in full bloom. Next time we will probably take a picnic lunch (and also an umbrella just in case).

Top tips for visiting The Lost Gardens of Heligan:

  • There is ample free parking onsite
  • Expect to take around four hours to see everything
  • Make sure you wear sturdy footwear
  • Remember your camera and water for you and your dog
  • Go to the Burma Rope Bridge as early as possible, as queues build-up and it operates a one-way system
  • Look out for special offers which combines admission to The Eden Project
  • Wheelchair access is limited in the gardens as most paths are unmade

About the author: Alison is a holiday home specialist, and visited The Lost Gardens of Heligan in March 2019.