Our recent trip to Cornwall saw us cram as much as physically possible into the three days we were there. With so many places to see and sights to explore, it seemed rude not to make the most of what was on offer.
As well as kayaking, swimming and checking out the kids who were crabbing on the private foreshore at the hotel we were staying out, we also managed a trip to a castle, eating pasties on the harbourside, playing at the beach and a day at The Eden Project. We certainly weren’t bored.
The Eden Project is the gem on Cornwall’s crown, set amongst the pearls of stunning coastline, chocolate box villages and pretty harbours. It’s almost unbelievable that, despite living in Cornwall for a year and holidaying there a few times before, I’ve never actually visited this beacon of tourism.
The thing is, until now, I’d always had this preconception that the place was nothing more than a glorified garden centre. I imagined old ladies wandering around sniffing roses and chatting about mulch. I didn’t see the place as a family attraction, with activities and sights that could occupy a restless three year old all day.
Oh how wrong I was.
In fact, I don’t think I’ve ever been more wrong about anything in my life. Ever. And that’s some statement to make. From its breastfeeding rooms to its baby-changing rooms, and its storytellers to its facepainting artists, there is absolutely no doubt that The Eden Project can cater for families with young kids.
Frog was in awe of the place as soon as we walked through the double doors and were confronted with the giant space-like biomes that she thought were massive igloos. Tiny touches, like hidden cut-throughs for kids on the walkways, or peep-holes for little eyes to peek through and check out the view, make The Eden Project a real treasure trove of experiences for little ones.
The food was outstanding too (you know me!). We dined on fresh paella and pizza in The Mediterranean Terrace restaurant in the Mediterranean Biome. It was incredible and actually felt like we were on holiday!
Another food tip is to check out the Eden Ice-cream. The hazelnut flavour was the best ice-cream I’ve ever tasted, and I’ve tasted A LOT of ice-cream.
Food aside, we spent an amazing day at The Eden Project and I’m kicking myself for not trying it out sooner. We would have needed a full week to experience everything the place has to offer – we didn’t even get to sample the den building or costume making – so I’d advise getting there nice and early to get your money’s worth. (Also, if you walk, cycle or take public transport, you’ll pay a smaller entrance fee.)
Set high on the cliffs, overlooking Falmouth Bay, you’ll find Pendennis Castle looming. Originally built by Henry VIII to defend the country against invasion, it’s the kind of place that transports you right back in time.
From its towering turrets to winding stone staircases, the castle has everything you’d expect from a Tudor building. But beyond the castle itself, there are also shelters used by soldiers during both World Wars, as well as ancient canons and a field that often holds medieval jousting re-enactments.
It’s well worth a visit – although for younger kids there’s not enough to occupy them for more than a couple of hours really.
And did I mention a spot at the top of the castle provides some of the best views over Falmouth?
With its position on the edge of Falmouth, Pendennis Castle makes for a handy place to visit in the morning, before a lunch of pasties on the harbourside as you watch the boats bobbing up and down in the water.
If you do decide to brave the busy streets of Falmouth in the summer, don’t expect to get a parking space right next to the centre. There are plenty of carparks but, equally, there are lots of side roads away from the centre where you can park for free if you’re happy to walk to your destination.
And if you do opt for a pasty (you’re in Falmouth – why wouldn’t you?!) I recommend the King’s Pipe pasty shop on a little side street at the end of town by the harbour. Best. Pasties. Ever.
Washed down with this view, you certainly can’t complain.
Another word of caution though – Falmouth’s busy pavements are heaving in high season, so if you take a buggy then expect long delays as you negotiate the hoards of shoppers and pasty-lovers. Once you get past the sheer number of people though, Falmouth is definitely worthy of a visit to look at the shops, sample the pasties and – of course – check out the various beaches.
Other places not on the list:
Unfortunately we didn’t make it to Trebah Gardens, just up the lane from The Budock Vean Hotel where we were staying. We just didn’t have enough time but, having visited before, I can recommend it as a place to escape the crowds and lose yourself amongst beautiful gardens.
I was also disappointed not to make it to my favourite pub in Cornwall – The Ferryboat Inn. When I was last there the food was brilliant and the setting, on the North Helford Passage waterfront, was unrivalled.
I could wax lyrical about this area of Cornwall for a thousand more words but I’m aware I’ve already gone on for a while. I could have told you about the Pitch and Putt at Swanpool, the watersports on various beaches, the rockpooling opportunities at Castle Beach… thing is, there’s just too many places to talk about.
You’ll have to go and see if for yourself.
Entry to The Eden Project costs £23.50 per adult on the door and £10.50 on the door for kids aged 5 to 16 years old. You’ll save 15% if you book online and even more money if you walk, cycle or take public transport. To find out more about ticket prices check out the website.
Entry to Pendennis Castle costs £6.70 per adult and £4 for kids aged 5 to 15 years old. For more details head to the website.
(Our trip covered entry to Pendennis Castle and The Eden Project, for the purpose of this review.)