The best gardens and country houses in Cornwall

Posted on Monday 27th July, 2020

The best gardens and country houses in Cornwall

Enjoy the abundant beauty of Cornwall’s estates, gardens and country houses, with roots that stretch back through centuries.

The amazing island world of St Michael’s Mount is one of the jewels in Cornwall’s crown. Hop on a boat – or walk across the causeway during low tide – to a community where modern life meets over a thousand years of history.

Visit Lanhydrock, the impressive country estate that brings the past to life. Wander ‘below stairs’ and imagine yourself among the Victorian servants: people with very different stories to the gentry above.

Stroll through the exotic valley gardens of Glendurgan, beautiful in any season, and evoke your spirit of adventure in the garden maze and on the giant rope swing.

With unrivalled views over the River Fal, the Trelissick estate has 300 acres of woodland and parkland to explore, perfect for meandering with the family and the dog. Discover the stories behind this welcoming country house.

Trengwainton, near Penzance, offers a woodland garden with magnificent award-winning rhododendrons and magnolias, tranquil walks and sea views. Many of the plants grown at Trengwainton flowered for the first time in Britain there.

Near the Devon border, Cotehele is the enchanted home of the Edgecumbe family and has origins dating back to medieval times. There’s always a busy programme of events to enjoy, along with a working watermill and a quay on the River Tamar.

The Elizabethan manor house of Trerice is an architectural gem hidden away from the world amongst a web of narrow lanes, and still somehow caught in the spirit of its age. Visit to check the progress of the 800 young yew trees that have been planted to map out the intricate design of a new Elizabethan knot garden.

Pinetum Gardens in St Austell contrasts areas of intimate tranquillity with open parkland vistas. Take time to discover the whole estate and its many gardens: play hide and seek in the arboretum, relax and reflect in the Japanese garden, and recharge out of season in the spectacular winter garden.

Visit Pencarrow House & Gardens, the much-loved home of the ancient Molesworth St Aubyn family, who still live there (you may even meet Lady Molesworth St Aubyn on one of the house tours). Have a leisurely walk around the 50 acres of gardens and parkland.

Discover the magic of Trebah Garden, set in a beautiful valley with over four miles of footpaths. Explore under canopies bursting with exotic blooms, and follow vibrant tunnels of colour to a private beach on the Helford River.

And don't worry - we've not overlooked the incredible beauty of the Lost Gardens of Heligan, or the wonder of the Eden Project. They'll be featured in our next blog next week, featuring Cornwall's top family attractions. 


Remember to check on each attraction's website to see whether they are open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many attractions will have changed their opening times, and all will have safety measures in place for your wellbeing. This may mean that you cannot enter the country houses due to social distancing measures in some cases. Many attractions will require you to think ahead, plan your trip and book your ticket in advance. 

Our pick of the best wildlife conservation tourist attractions in Cornwall

Posted on Wednesday 22nd July, 2020

Our pick of the best wildlife conservation tourist attractions in Cornwall

Conservation lies at the heart of many of Cornwall’s visitor attractions. Around the county, you’ll find a number of sites undertaking important work in animal conservation, and your visit can make a real difference in supporting what they do.

Meet over 1,000 of the world’s most rare and endangered species atNewquay Zoo. This conservation charity, owned by Wild Planet Trust, gives you the chance to get up-close with a range of animals, from lions and penguins to zebras and meerkats. With experiences such as becoming a mini-keeper for the day, it’s a great family destination and a fantastic way to teach children about conservation.

In Hayle, Paradise Park is all about the birds. Overlooking Hayle Estuary – itself a renowned RSPB reserve – this family attraction is home to the World Parrot Trust. Encounter a huge variety of different birds and discover more about them with daily talks and feeding experiences. During summer, explore the exotic garden, where bees and butterflies enjoy the nectar-rich plants and brightly coloured birds stretch their wings.

Take the family to the Cornish Seal Sanctuary and learn about its work to ensure the safety and wellbeing of seals around Cornwall’s coastline. Based in Gweek, commanding beautiful views of the Helford Estuary, the sanctuary is dedicated to seal rescue, rehabilitation and release, as well as raising awareness of how plastic pollution has affected the seals there. It’s a unique and engaging experience in one of the most beautiful parts of Cornwall.

Screech Owl Sanctuary is an important rescue and rehabilitation centre for over 120 owls and 40 different species from all over the world. The sanctuary holds one of the largest collections of owls in the south west, and has been involved in many conservation projects with endangered species. Based on the edge of the Goss Moor nature reserve, it works with sick and injured owls before returning them to their former locations. Visit to experience close encounters with these beautiful and majestic birds of prey. 


Remember to check on each attractions website to see whether they are open during the COVID-19 pandemic. Many attractions will have changed their opening times, and all will have safety measures in place for your wellbeing. Many attractions will require you to think ahead, plan your trip and book your ticket in advance. 

Unprecedented rise in fly-camping halts National Trust conservation work

Posted on Tuesday 21st July, 2020

Unprecedented rise in fly-camping halts National Trust conservation work

  • Rangers report substantial increases in people fly-camping and leaving debris and litter behind, and estimate a fifth of their time has been diverted away from vital conservation work
  • More time spent on clearing up mess rather than on protecting nature
  • Disposable festival mentality with tents and camping equipment discarded and fires lit and damage to trees
  • Trust urges public not to camp without landowner’s permission, to leave no trace and to respect the countryside and other visitors
  • Despite recent rain, countryside remains dry and campfires could spread


Following a dramatic increase in the amount of discarded equipment and litter being left behind at countryside and coastal locations, the National Trust is urging people not to fly-camp on its land and to help protect nature and wildlife.

With more people than ever likely to ‘staycation’ this summer due to the coronavirus pandemic, National Trust ranger teams are finding 20 per cent of their time is now having to be spent on clearing up after visitors rather than on vital conservation work to help nature.

Since the easing of lockdown restrictions in England various tourist hot spots including the Peak District, Lake District and South West have seen significant increases in the numbers of people camping, and a spike in the number of camper vans parking at beauty spots overnight, without permission. 

  • In Dovedale, in the Peak District, 170 large bin bags of rubbish were collected over just three days in June.  And over the past few weeks 25 tents  have been cleared together with 20 camping chairs, six air beds, several BBQs and a couple of camping tables.
  • In the Lake District the number of camper vans parking illegally is wiping out the capacity in many car parks for day visitors with 118 counted in one valley in just one evening at Buttermere.  There are also unsustainable levels of anti-social fly-camping on accessible lakeshores with campers lighting fires, damaging trees and littering.
  • In West Cornwall 140 camper vans were turned away from 10 small remote sites over a week-long period, doubling or tripling what Trust would normally expect

    Longshaw Area Ranger Chris Millner commented: “The volume of debris left behind is overwhelming and something we’ve not experienced before.  After people have finished having fun it’s like they abandon ship.  What they couldn’t be bothered to carry out they just left for someone else to clean up.”

    Neil Winder, Area Ranger - Grasmere & Great Langdale in the Lake District said: “We’re pleased to be able to welcome back holiday makers to the Lake District, but it’s not yet business as usual while we gradually reopen with the safety of our guests, staff and volunteers in mind. 

    “We encourage visitors to plan and book their accommodation in advance as we are experiencing unprecedented demand.  Some Lake District hotspots simply cannot sustain the numbers of visitors turning up with nowhere to legally camp overnight.”

    Steve Sudworth, Lead Ranger along the north Cornish coastline said: “"Overnight camping numbers in cars, vans and tents are continuing to increase across our sites and car parks on the North coast, causing significant issues to the area and visitors.

    “The overnighters are frequently leaving human waste, used toilet tissue, BBQs and other litter across the beautiful countryside they have themselves come to enjoy. This is damaging these landscapes and spoiling them for everyone whilst causing a health hazard in already challenging times.

    “We urge people to treat the countryside with respect, please only stay overnight at authorised sites, take your rubbish home with you when you visit and do not go to the toilet where there are no facilities."

    The increase in campers and litter has led to more time being spent by National Trust ranger teams and volunteers clearing up after visitors.  Time which would usually be spent on vital conservation work.

    Rob Rhodes, Head of Rangers at the National Trust said: “Due to lockdown we haven’t been able to get on with conservation work and many of our rangers who have returned to their posts over the past few weeks are champing at the bit to get on and start to clear the backlog. 

    “The sort of work we want to be doing at this time of year includes managing our flower rich meadows and caring for the wildlife that live there, and vital maintenance work to our network of paths and visitor routes.

    “But this unsociable behaviour by some is taking up so much time that it’s affecting not only on the upkeep of our sites, but taking our staff away from vital conservation work and engaging with visitors.  Leaving debris and litter behind can cause issues for wildlife such as injuring animals and destroying habitats.

    No one should have to clear up the mess that we are experiencing at some of our places.”

    Ben McCarthy Head of Nature Conservation and Restoration at the National Trust said: “We have seen a huge increase in the number of people fly-camping at our places over the past few weeks, and they are leaving not only vast quantities of litter behind, but in some instances tents and much of their equipment. 

    “We are seeing a disposable festival mentality which we’ve not experienced at our places before.

    “Some campers are also lighting campfires which can cause big problems, especially with the land still being very dry despite recent rainfall.  Campfires should not be lit at any of our countryside or coastal locations.  Fires can easily get out of control and this could have a massive impact on wildlife and landscapes.

    “We know one of the few positives of lockdown has been the rise in visitors enjoying the outdoors, nature and the countryside.  And while we want to do all we can to encourage more people to spend time in nature, we all have a responsibility to leave places as we found them  – for other people but also for the sake of nature itself. We want to remind people to follow the countryside code and that they should only camp overnight with a landowner’s permission.”    

The Minack is back with a full summer season

Posted on Monday 20th July, 2020

The Minack is back with a full summer season

Live performance is back at the Minack and the team are delighted to welcome audiences into their theatre once more to experience the thrill that only live events can inspire.   Some things may not be quite the same, but the enthusiasm of performers to entertain you is as great as ever. 

Executive Director of the Minack, Zoë Curnow, said, “The Minack is a beautiful place to visit but it’s first and foremost a performance space and we are doing everything we can to give people the opportunity to see live theatre safely at the Minack this summer.  Our original season had to be cancelled when the Lockdown happened, so when the announcement came that open air theatre could restart, we put together an entirely new programme of music, theatre and comedy.  The Minack’s an important part of the local arts economy and we’re proud to offer a showcase for some of our rich community of professional Cornish artists as well as national companies in our new season.” 

They've got a fantastic season of events lined up and there’s more still to be announced.   Enjoy Minack’s Music Mondays – from folk with Port Isaac’s Fisherman’s Friends and Didjan to the sublime harp of Ruth Wall. Enjoy a shiver at the bewitching musical fable, The Soldier’s Tale by Stravinsky, or join them for an evening with Chris Difford of Squeeze, and that’s just for starters.

The theatre shows kick off in dramatic fashion with David Mynne’s virtuoso one-man performance of Dickens’ much-loved classic, Great Expectations, followed by Bash Street Theatre whose unique acrobatic performances are perfect for all the family.  Don’t miss The Strongman, a perfect blend of circus skills, silent comedy and live music all wrapped up in a silent movie plot.  In August, the Minack have a two week revival of Stones in his Pockets by Marie Jones, which played at Minack last year to great acclaim.  The two intrepid actors play many parts in this bittersweet tale of an American film unit’s descent on a remote Irish village.  Following this, the team are thrilled to bring you Stephen Tomkinson and Jessica Johnson in Willy Russell’s Educating Rita.  2020 is the 40th anniversary of Russell’s popular play and this production was on a national tour when Covid 19 intervened.  We’re very grateful to author Willy Russell, who has adapted his play especially for this two week run at the Minack. 

If you like movies and want to be part of the action, don’t miss the manic mayhem that is Mischief Theatre’s Mischief Movie Night in September, when you, the audience get to pick the genre, location and title of a film and the skilled performers create it before your eyes.  What could possibly go wrong!

For these and all their other events this summer, take a look at the Minack website, and remember the theatre will be playing to reduced capacities so advance booking is essential.

For information and to book for all Minack performances, daytime storytelling and visits to the theatre please see their website at


National Maritime Museum Cornwall reopening

Posted on Tuesday 14th July, 2020

National Maritime Museum Cornwall reopening

National Maritime Museum Cornwall in Falmouth today announces it will reopen to the public on Monday 27 July 2020, following recent Government announcement on the easing of lockdown restrictions for cultural spaces. The reopening of the museum is the first chance to see the major new exhibition MONSTERS OF THE DEEP: SCIENCE FACT AND FICTION, which explores the incredible stories, beliefs and mythologies around deep-sea monsters, which was due to open in March before the closure of the museum.

To ensure the safety and wellbeing of all visitors and staff, the Museum has also implemented a number of new health and safety measures, in line with the latest government advice. These measures include:

  • Timed arrival slots and reduced visitor capacity  
  • Social distancing measures including one-way systems, floor markers in all queuing areas and rearranged café seating
  • Strict cleaning regimes in all areas of the museum with additional cleaning staff

Richard Doughty, Director, National Maritime Museum Cornwall, said:“Just like any other Museum across the country the last few months have been some of toughest in our history, and our future, as we emerge into this new landscape, remains unknown. However, we open our doors on Monday 27th July with renewed determination and full hearts – we can’t wait to see visitors again and we’re particularly looking forward to sharing Monsters of the Deep, our most ambitious exhibition ever. Throughout the last few months Monsters of the Deep has been in hibernation and not a soul outside the organisation has seen it – now is the time to awaken the beast!”

On display at the Museum from 27 July 2020–3 January 2022, the new Monsters of the Deep exhibition takes visitors on an immersive tour through the world of deep-sea monsters, both real and imagined. From Medieval folklore, to the cryptozoologists and monster-hunters of the 20th century, the exhibition examines the enduring fascination with the creatures that­­­ live in the depths of the ocean, bringing together rarely seen specimens, artefacts and artworks from world class collections, including Royal Museums Greenwich, the British Museum, the Science Museum, the National Oceanography Centre and Cambridge University Library.

Starting with the monstrous creatures that haunted the imaginations of people in medieval Europe, the exhibition examines what people of the past really believed about the ocean. A large-scale reproduction of the Carta Marina, the world’s most famous medieval map of the sea, showcases exquisite illustrations of sea monsters including the strange ‘mirror creatures’ – sea goats, sea cows and sea horses – that were thought to inhabit the oceans at the time. Also on display will be the Hortus sanitatis, the world’s first natural history encyclopaedia. Printed in 1491, it represents a significant moment in the birth of scientific history, a time when unicorns and mermaids were considered alongside elephants and giraffes as marvellous wonders of the world.

The exhibition has been created in collaboration with a variety of specialist and guest curators, including Viktor Wynd, who has created the ‘UnNatural History Museum.’ This section will bring together fascinating, and sometimes disturbing specimens such as a giant rearing “unicorn” skeleton and a mummified feegee mermaid to explore ideas of what is real and what is fake.

­­­Against an analysis of ‘monster’ sightings, fake news and conspiracy theories, the exhibition will also explore the impact of sea monsters in cinema and popular culture, as well as the wider history of deep sea exploration, from early attempts through to the voyages of the HMS Challenger and state-of-the-ar­­t underwater scientific exploration.

Highlighting the incredible discoveries and contemporary advances in our understanding of the oceans, the exhibition will include in a section co-curated with the UK’s pioneering National Oceanography Centre, which explores the true depths of our oceans and the real-life sea monsters which lurk beneath.
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