Situated 2 miles south-east of St. Austell town centre in St. Austell Bay, Charlestown is a most enjoyable place to visit.
If you want to use public transport then Western Greyhound operate buses from near the railway station and drop you off at The Rashleigh Arms, where you might be tempted to stop before walking down to the harbour.
West Polmeor, as it was originally known, was just a small fishing village until a harbour was needed to fulfil the needs of the local mineral mines and clay pits.
A local businessman by the name of Charles Rashleigh was the man responsible for the building of the harbour and the village was re-named Charles’ Town after him in 1799.
Although the Rashleigh Estate has changed hands several times over the years it is still in private hands. Today the harbour is owned by Square Sail who own a small fleet of Tall Ships which are not only popular with visitors but with film crews of television and film companies as well.
The other main attraction here is the ‘Shipwreck & Heritage Centre which has an amazing collection of shipwreck artefacts and which I have covered in a separate tip
- Museum Visits
- Historical Travel
Charlestown Shipwreck & Heritage Centre
This museum is a must for anyone who loves looking at treasure trove brought up from the seabed.
There are other distractions here as well but it is this collection that you’ll want to spend most of your time looking at.
The tour of the museum starts with a walk through a tunnel that was, until 1972, used for transporting china clay on trucks through to the harbour. At the end of the tunnel there’s a viewing platform overlooking the harbour.
If you’re interested in the harbour and China Clay history then there’s a film you can watch in the AV Theatre.
You probably won’t want to waste too much time looking at life on ’Charlestown St’, but the nautical theme soon starts with a large display of diving equipment that stretches back to 1715.
There are a few other diversions before reaching the shipwreck treasures that come from over 150 ships that found their way to the bottom of Davy Jones’s Locker. There are artefacts from ships like the Lusitania and others but the real treasure comes from ships like HMS Colossus, and The Association, both sunk off the Scilly Isles.
I’m not sure how many items are on display here and I’m not even sure that the owners of the museum know either but it is the largest private display of its kind in Europe.
There are weapons and all manner of stuff including gold and silver coins as well as Spanish ‘Pieces of Eight’.
Much of this treasure has been brought to the surface by a modern day Cornish buccaneer named Roland Morris and his friends.
If, like me, you enjoy seeing all this kind of stuff then you won’t want to miss coming here.
For opening times and prices visit the website.
- Historical Travel
- Museum Visits
The Eden Project was created from a reclaimed clay mine, transforming it into a global garden that includes the world’s largest greenhouse and where people can learn about nature and get inspiration about the world around them. Inside the two huge artificial biomes are plants that are collected from all around the world. Each dome consists of hundreds of hexagonal and pentagonal, inflated, plastic cells supported by steel frames. One biome emulates a tropical rain forest and the other a Mediterranean environment.
July to October: 9:00 am to 6:00 pm
November to December: 9:00 am to 3:00 pm
Seniors and students: £15.50
Children (5-16): £8.50
Children (0-4): Free
See My Travelogue for more Photos
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Family Travel
Hemp has been used or Milleniums for its medicinal and relaxant properties. Also it is a very strong product for rope, clothes, boat sail and bank notes among others.
We were surprised to see hemp being grown so openly here, apparently Eden needed a special licence to grow it & a barrier from the public. A wonderful hemp rope fence has been created as the barrier by local artist George Fairhurst.
- Arts and Culture
This sculpture is called a Shimenawa, it is worshipped in the oldest Japanese religion of Shinto. This particular one is made of rice straw, you usually find Shimenawa in areas around shrines, scared trees. Also it celebrates the growth of rice. This scupture was made & designed by local artist Phil Booth with the help of Japanese landscape designer Eio Okumura.
2004 is actually the International Year for Rice!
- Family Travel
- Arts and Culture
Dance of Dionysus
Within the grape vine growing region of the Warm Temperate Biome, sculpures have been places to show the "Dance of Dionysus". Dionysus is actually depicted as the bull (not in this actual photo), the other sculpures are followers of Dionysus.
- Historical Travel
- Arts and Culture
Not just one of Cornwall's top attractions, but in fact one of ENGLAND'S most visited places, Eden Project is a very special place. I am not a gardening type at all since I am too lazy, but I love the outdoors and care about the environment so I thought Eden would have to be seen during our first ever visit to Cornwall. We broke the journey to St Ives here for a day just so that we could see the former clay quarry which has been turned into Eden and we were not disappointed. There are buses from St Austell railway station but we had arrived late from London and booked a hotel on the way to Eden instead, so we grabbed a taxi along a maze of countrylanes - something I have since learnt is very typical of Cornwall where the landscape dips in very particular ways so that roads seem to disappear. All of a sudden we reached a huge system of car parks in the woods, with shuttle buses running between them and categorised according to different fruits. We had arrived, but saw nothing of the famous domes and were wondering how it would all be revealed to us. Once we had paid and walked through the entrance house with its souvenir shop, it all became clear as we then stood on a terrace high above all the biomes down in the former quarry. A very cool first impression of Eden that made us feel almost as if we were in Jurassic Park. People were mingling around down there and since it had started to rain we soon made our way to the little tractor-driven train that takes people down the slopes if they don't want to walk.
The biodomes are linked together so in we went and started off with the Mediterranean one to the right. Beautiful olive groves and other things came our way as we wandered along, and then it became South African with aloe vera and finally even American with tobacco and things. Birds and lizards kept darting across paths and up rocks, and everywhere we saw different art installations such as a wonderful horse made entirely out of driftwood. A wizard was telling stories to children in a little whitewashed Greek style"village square" and there were lemons, tomatoes...
Still, it was the main biome with the rainforest we were really looking forward to and in we went. The first thing that meets visitors in there is a notice asking if you think that you're up for life in a rainforest and since we had visited this kind of attraction before, albeit on a smaller scale, we thought nothing special of it even if none of us love humid heat and we are quite happy holiday in northern Europe. We set off on the walking path and after just a short while realised that this was not your average mock-up rainforest, but in fact as good as the real thing apart from the fact that the paths were tarmac and that you could see hothouse windows way above if you raised your head. Here and there were water pumps and we soon found that we needed to use them to be able to carry on into the next section. The further in we came, the more it felt like in a natural rainforest since huge trees now grew tall and obscured the views of the biome ceiling and there were little streams and ponds. Our daughter had a quiz sheet she followed and ran back and forth to find the answers and we stopped by a Malaysian village house and a lot of other things for this. You walk in an upwards serpentine and further towards the top there is even a "cooling room" for those who are really suffering. It has a first aid kit and a sink and you can sit in it for a while and just feel embraced by nice, cool air before re-entering the rainforest.
Walking on, we noticed that ants were crossing our paths everywhere, and even saw a mouse at one stage. As you get to the last part of the biome you pass a waterfall and start to get environmental messages too, with images of a cut down rainforest now used for soy plantation, and with information on how huge banana plantations work. There is a juice bar here and when you reach it, you start to realise just how much rainforest you have actually walked through. Impressive to say the least. As we came out to the café- and information area, we realised that we were soaked right through, so bring a spare t-shirt when you visit!
Outside, the Cornish weather was as reliable as ever with mixed sunshine and showers, and we strolled around the huge area looking at information on tea plantations and checking the big stage used for concerts and other events regularly. We thought of going to the environmental and "hands on" experience in another building back up the slope, but our daughter wanted to spend time in the play area where a juggler had also appeared with a lot of diabolos and things to try, and frankly we were exhausted so we just sat down there for a while and wondered if we should have an ice cream. Excusing ourselves with the fact that I already work with environmental issues and know more than the average person about issues humanity face, we later made our way back up to the entrance/exit area again (where there is also a cashpoint) and spent a long time in the fabulous souvenir shops where you can buy recycled things, plants, bamboo t-shirts, books on environmental issues, Cornwall, food...one of the most inspirational shops I have ever been in I think. Loaded with things, we then called a taxi and went back to St Austell on yet more country lanes with stunning views down St Austell Bay and that's when we started to see the beauty of Cornwall.
- Jungle and Rain Forest
Eden Project - Don't Bother
The Eden Project was a big disappointment for our family - far too expensive, small, cramped and too many people allowed in at once.
If you're happy to pay over £15 to shuffle around behind 8,000 other people and having to queue for absolutely everything, then it is the place for you!
I have been to many gardens in Cornwall and my advice is to avoid the overhyped Eden Project and go somewhere like Trelissik, Trebah or the Lost Gardens of Heligan instead - they're cheaper, more peaceful and much more picturesque.
The Eden Project is "one of the UK's top gardens and conservation tourist attractions located in Cornwall". Located near St Austell, we visited this popular place in April 2009.
Upon arrival, we were directed into one of the car parks - there are several and they are named after a fruit, so take note of which fruit you are parked in - we were in the 'lime' car park. There is then a courtesy bus which takes you to/from the project entrance.
The main attractions at the Eden Project are the giant 'biomes', which are climate controlled bumpy looking bubbles containing plants from around the world. There is a Rainforest biome and a Mediterranean biome.
As you would expect it is very hot and humid in the Rainforest biome. Halfway around there is a "cool room" if you are finding the heat/humidity hard to handle, and there are drinking fountains on route. I wasn't a fan of the humidity and we moved quickly through this biome, having a quick glimpse of the tropical vegetation along the way.
The Mediterranean biome is more bearable, temperature wise, but probably less interesting than the Rainforest one. Outside the biomes there are large areas of gardens, much of which was in flower when we visited. There is also an interesting education centre called "The Core".
I must confess I didn't really love my time at the Eden Project - it was interesting enough, but not a place I feel the need to return to. If I want to see plants I think I will stick to my local - Kew Gardens.
Lost Gardens of Heligan - Exceeds expectations
This is by-far one of the best outings I have come across in Cornwall! It totally blew me away with its beauty and what it has to offer. I enjoyed the walk around the land, and landing mud sculptures was so much fun.
This is not just a garden, but a garden with long lost glory and extensive history, the story behind its restoration is amazing.
1 thing not to miss, go and see (and sniff) the peach house!
also give mud sculptures a visit :D children (and adults) gonna love them!
You can do circular walks as you walk around the garden grounds, some places can get steep so bring appropriate footwear.
They also have an award-winning farm shop next to the garden, which can get busy during afternoons!
Photos to follow...
The Greenhouse Effect
What can I say about The Eden Project? I have been a few times with friends and visitors to England without saying where we were going. When people walk down to the Biomes for the first time, not expecting anything like this, they just stop and go, "Wow!"
What the Eden project say:
What's it about?
Eden is all about man's relationship with and dependence upon plants. Much of our food, our clothes, our shelter and our medicines come from the plant world. Without plants there would be no oxygen for us to breathe, no life on earth.
The Eden Project is a showcase for all the questions and many of the answers. But Eden is not a worthy, over-serious, guilt-ridden place; nor does it preach. It is about education and communication of the major environmental issues of the day, always presented in an engaging, involving, even humorous way.
When you can attract half a million people to look down a muddy hole at a construction site, then you must be building something spectacular. A British grand project paid for by lottery cash, the Eden Project bills itself as the Eighth Wonder of the World.
Its giant biomes are the world's largest greenhouses, sat in an old clay mining pit. The humid biome houses an entire jungle while the temperate biome treats visitors to Mediterranean olive groves. Still to come is an arid biome which will bring the desert to Cornwall. Surrounding the domes is a 30-acre garden called (a bit pretentiously) the 'roofless' biome.
You'll learn some fascinating things about nature, see some prime examples of exotic plants, come across some surprising artwork and be able to feast on the locally grown bounty at the field kitchen. It's all earnestly eco-friendly and they don't shy away from the realities of coffee growing, the economics of the sugar trade or the effect of subsidies on farming.
Undeniably, this is a world class attraction, right up there with the Smithsonian and the pyramids. The setting is spectacular, the art and architecture is cutting edge and the facilities are first rate.
So of course you can expect crowds. For some reason, Tuesday and Wednesday are the busiest days. A rainy day in summer is a nightmare as the beaches empty of holidaymakers keen to stay dry. On days like this it's common for the site to be closed to newcomers once the place is full.
The humid greenhouse can be oppressively hot on a sunny day, plus it's the larger biome to explore with steep paths. It's common for people to collapse from the heat and you'll need your sunscreen!
There are many informative signs and a huge variety of plants, but I noticed on our visit how crowds were drawn to the sight of a songbird or a butterfly. Then I realised what's missing. For all this abundance of life, plants are static creatures. Artwork and displays do their best to boost your interest, but frankly (whisper it) after a few hours of plodding along the trails it all gets a bit dull.
In September 2004 adult entry was £12. Come by bike and get a £3 discount. Open daily except Xmas Eve & Xmas Day. Hours are 10-4.30 from November to March, 10-6 April to October (till 8 in August). Last admission 1.5 hours before closing. Allow 4 hours for your visit.
The Eden Project
The Eden Project is a marvelous addition to the Cornish countryside. Built in an old clay pit the main feature of the project are the huge domes which house hundreds of varieties of plants in two diferent climates, temperate and tropical.
Outside there are many more varieties set in acres of land.
- Jungle and Rain Forest
- Family Travel
The Temperate Biome
Cornishman Johathan Ball was the first architect of the Project, and became a co-founder with Tim Smit (although these two gentlemen were to fall out in a big way later !). Sir Nicholas Grimshaw, who designed the famous Biomes, was the second architect. sir Nicholas was guaranteed no payment for his efforts, but had the satisfaction in knowing he was designing the 'Eighth Wonder of the World'.
The Temperate Biome at 35 meters in height, is smaller than the Tropical Biome, and naturally does not contain nearly so many exhibits. It consists mainly of plants from the Mediterranean, South Africa and California. I would suggest that the visitor visits this Biome first of all, and then the Tropical Biome will be a wonderful surprise!
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