We love the temperate climate in West Cornwall. Not only does it make walking an enjoyable year-round activity, but it means that our gardeners can be really creative with their planting.
We can grow subtropical species that really wouldn’t thrive in other parts of the UK. While you’re down here, it’s really worth taking in a stunning Cornish garden or two. Several of our walks pass close to some of these gorgeous gardens, so we’d like to introduce you to a few of our favourites.
Please bear in mind that gardens aren’t as hardy as we walkers, and they may be closed at certain times of year. We’ve included links to all their websites, so you can check their opening hours before you stride out.
Another thing to mention before you set off, is that if you’re not already a National Trust member, it’s worth joining before you come to Cornwall. There are simply so many Trust gardens and properties in this area. We’re about to mention a fair few of them now…
The area around Penzance is rich with subtropical gardens. The south Penwith coast is generally seen as gentler than its wilder northern counterpart, and its lush valleys teem with exotic plants.
Having said that, St Ives itself is a sheltered spot, and before you set out, take time to visit the Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden. The sculptor settled here in 1939, setting up Trewyn Studio and using its lovely gardens as a place to display her work. Many of the pieces you’ll discover here today are still in situ where she placed them.
Trengwainton Garden is to the west of Penzance, and is managed by the National Trust. This 25-acre garden seems to change character every time you turn a corner. There’s a wooded path, then a formal walled garden, then an orchard, then a field, then a stream… It’s a lovely place to meander an afternoon away.
Trewidden Garden is practically Trengwainton’s neighbour (and both were part of the Bolitho estate). This is one of the area’s lesser-known gardens, and we love it for its peaceful paths and venerable old trees. If you’re here in the spring, the camelias and magnolias are nothing short of spectacular. It’s a friendly and welcoming place, with a tiny tearoom that serves a superb cream tea.
To the east of Penzance, you’ll find Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens. This is a place of discovery, with shaded woodland walks, sweeping swathes of grass, and hidden works of art waiting in the undergrowth. It also has a fabulous café, and if you sit outside for a cuppa on a cold day, they bring you blankets and hot water bottles. It’s just lovely.
When you arrive in Marazion, it’s hard to miss our next garden. The formal gardens on St Michael’s Mount were created to be viewed from the castle above, so they have this extraordinary vertiginous design, built in tiers down the island’s steep slopes. The incredible team of gardeners has to abseil to reach certain areas, while the sun beating against the pale rocks makes the exquisite collection of gardens real little hothouses for exotic plants.
Our ten-day walk from St Ives to Falmouth takes you through the verdant landscape around Helford, with its famous Carrick Roads and secret creeks. Again, this is one of Cornwall’s gentler landscapes, and it’s a wonderful place for spotting flora and fauna.
Glendurgan Garden is run by the National Trust. It’s set in a valley that’s been richly planted with subtropical plants (including massive ferns and gunnera), and heads down to a small cove on the Helford River. Glendurgan is best known locally for its maze. Warning: this could be the furthest you’ve walked in a single day during your walking holiday. This is a serious maze.
Close by, beautiful Trebah Gardens also heads down towards its own little beach. Trelissick is another National Trust garden, although this has quite a different character with sweeping parkland, mixed woodland and open views across the Fal.
Further Up The Line
We’ve added a couple of wild card gardens, that you can easily tag onto the end of your Cornish walking holiday.
When you’ve completed the epic St Ives to Falmouth walk, treat yourself to a rest day in the incredible Lost Gardens of Heligan. The story that these gorgeous gardens were hidden, Sleeping Beauty style, under a mass of weeds and brambles for decades, is absolutely true. Hard graft and painstaking garden archaeology recovered the 200-acre estate, and it has since been beautifully restored.
If you’ve walked the St Ives to Padstow route, take a quick detour to Lanhydrock near Bodmin, a magnificent National Trust house set in a large, wooded estate. If you fancy a change from walking, you can hire a bike on site and set off along one of Lanhydrock’s forest trails.
These are just some of Cornwall’s incredible gardens. If you want to know more about other places to explore during your walking tour, please just ask us.
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