Consistently voted one of Britain’s favourite gardens, The Lost Gardens of Heligan just north west of Mevagissey and south of St Austell are not to be missed on a visit to the area. The skilled gardeners who created and maintained the glorious gardens of Heligan in the 19th century which covered a thousand acres of the Tremayne family estate went off to fight in the First World War. The gardens became neglected, but restoration to their former glory after the great hurricane of 1990 was spearheaded by the discovery of a motto etched onto a limestone wall in one of the walled gardens reading ‘Don’t come here to sleep or slumber’. It was dated August 1914, with a list of names of those who had worked at Heligan and departed for the Great War underneath.
Northern Gardens & Pleasure Grounds
The restored Lost Gardens of Heligan today is a multi award-winning Cornish garden covering well over 300 acres. The gardens and romantic pleasure grounds are spread across 200 acres, with wetland, woodland and ancient pastures to explore in the wider estate covering 100 acres. At its heart is the Northern Garden, the award-winning Victorian productive gardens restoration, with over 200 varieties of heritage vegetables, herbs, fruit and salad which you can sample in the Heligan Tearoom! There are 200 year old Pleasure Grounds to explore with romantic structures and unusual features, a network of walkways and historic plants. Cornwall’s National Collection of Rhododendrons and Camellias can also be seen in the Pleasure Grounds.
The exotic Jungle garden covers a steep-sided valley at Heligan with its own warmer microclimate about 5 degrees warmer than the Northern Gardens area. The Jungle, which showcases the plants bought back from tropical worlds by Victorian explorers, is brimming with the foliage of exotic plants, palms and bamboo from more temperate parts of the world. Exciting new attraction in The Jungle is Britain’s longest rope bridge, a big hit with visitors, offering spectacular views across the sub-tropical valley.
Well trained dogs on short leads are welcome in Heligan’s gardens, but not in the tearoom. A large car park is adjacent to the attraction and parking is free for cars, with disabled parking bays available closest to the entrance. In the Steward’s House you’ll find wc facilities including disabled toilets plus baby changing facilities. The Heligan Shop, Tearoom and Plant Centre are free to enter all year round. In the heart of the estate also sits the Stewardry Tearoom and Exhibition Room. Heligan is open all year round to visitors, except on Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
The nearest mainline railway station is St Austell, and from the station you can pick up Western Greyhound bus routes 524 and 525 direct to Heligan. These bus routes also connect Heligan to nearby Par and Mevagissey, and to Newquay. The airport at Newquay is a mere 20 miles away. The gardens are only around a 35 minute scenic walk from Mevagissey – if you’re based further along the coast at Fowey, you can pick up the ferry from here to Mevagissey and then walk or hop aboard the bus service to Heligan. Visitors coming by car need to take the B3273 to Mevagissey and follow clear Brown signs to ‘The Lost Gardens of Heligan’.
Where to Stay
St Austell Bay and the Roseland Heritage Coast around Heligan offer a huge choice of accommodation options from luxury family friendly villas and apartments to beautiful Cornish country cottages. Nearby Mevagissey has a wealth of beautiful holiday homes and harbourside B&Bs, or stay in a charming guest house or a country inn around St Austell with easy access to the gardens via local bus services. Nearby Charlestown on St Austell Bay offers more luxury contemporary self-catering holiday homes close to the gardens and award-winning beaches. Towards the Roseland Peninsula, also conveniently close to Heligan, you’ll find numerous luxury cottages and cottage complexes. A wide choice of family friendly holiday parks are also available around Gorran Haven and Par.