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Cornwall by Coach

The Eden Project and Heligan gardens were on Norman Wright's Cornwall coach tour itinerary but, sadly for the female travellers, there was no sign of Poldark hunk Aidan Turner

Cries of suppressed fear pierced the tranquil air and heads turned to witness the extraordinary sight of two people side by side, in skydiver pose, suspended below zip wires swooping down past the famous domes of Cornwall’s Eden Project.

The zip wire ride and several other leaps and jumps that sound even more terrifying are fairly recent additions to widen the appeal of this amazing ecology project. Rest assured, however, that while the youngsters and a few more mature thrill-seekers enjoy the aerial view, down below in those space-age Biome domes Eden just gets better.

The tropical zone is a humid stroll through the roots and tree tops of the jungle with plenty of displays alongside the pathways that explain and highlight environmental issues.

Pass through to the Mediterranean Biome and the warmth turns dry and the plantings offer vivid colour, with the backgrounds change from lush greens to sage greens and beiges.

We were visiting Eden as part of a spring coach holiday in Cornwall. We have visited the project several times since it opened in March 2001. Every time new developments have been added and the site has matured and been refined.

Visiting by coach proved to be an excellent way to arrive. Even in April Eden was busy – as a major tourist destination it has attracted around 15 million visitors since 2001. The coach park is close to, but above, the entrance. If you don’t fancy the series of steps down, there is a buggy service.

There’s a big range of food and drink to sustain you during your visit but we stuck to traditional Cornish pasties – highly recommended. From there we moved on to a more traditional garden – the Lost Gardens of Heligan near the fishing village of Mevagissey.

This was Eden founder Sir Tim Smit’s first horticultural project, to rescue and restore the abandoned gardens that had lain overgrown for several decades.

The decline had its roots in August 1914 with the outbreak of the First World War. Heligan’s team of gardeners was broken up for ever. Just as with the staff of most of Britain’s great houses, 13 of Heligan’s 23 gardeners served in the war, most of them from Mevagissey and surrounding area. Nine of the 13 gave their lives. Gradually the gardens they had tended became taken over by brambles and overgrown trees and shrubs.

Its rebirth came following the great storms of 1990 when the latest member of the Tremayne family to own the estate, John Willis, took local archaeologist Smit to hack their way into the jungle.

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