Having never visited Cornwall before, this last week has been a complete adventure and we have tried to cram as many visitor attractions and touristy things to do into the holiday as possible. My favourite of the week has to be the Eden Project and it is also on a par with Cadburys World for the best family attractions we have ever been to with the children.
We didn't intend to visit the Eden Project before we arrived in Cornwall but having no idea of where things are etc, as we live 6 hours away, I was pleasantly surprised when I realised that the Eden Project was only around 35 minutes away from where we were staying in Looe. As my daughter has a 3 week long project to complete for after the holidays about plants, we decided to head out for the day and see what the attraction was all about.
On the way to the Eden Project, I kept expecting to see the domes (or 'biomes' as I have since found out is the correct term), and it wasn't until we got to the welcome signs that I realised the attraction is actually set in an old quarry. It is impressive to see and we were 'wowing' and 'oohhing' before we had even got out of the car! The car parks are all easily sign posted with different coloured zones, and we were quickly guided into spaces by some attendants. A quick walk to the attraction (no more than 5 minutes) is made pain free for parents with young children who are desperate to get to the attraction, as there are beautiful borders full of bright coloured flowers and heathers to occupy the children on the short walk, plus the odd hop scotch panted on the path here and there means you reach the first building in no time. Here you will pass the most photographed part of the attraction which is actually a life size horse made from drift wood which is beautiful. Passing this will take you to the entrance where you can collect pre booked tickets (you save 10% if you book online or 15% if you pre book and specify a date), however we couldn't do this as we couldn't get an internet connection on our phones. We paid for 2 adults and a child and our youngest daughter was free to get in as she was under 5 (always a bonus!). It is also worth bearing in mind that this ticket will allow you free entry for a year. While we won't get any use from this as we live so far away, it will be handy for families who could make the journey in an hour or so.
Leaving this main area will take you through to the outside area and this is when you are blown away by the sheer size of the biomes, and this is when we caught sight of the beautiful gardens and different areas. Literally everywhere you look there is something new to see. This is an ideal photo opportunity to have the biomes behind you in a picture and there is a viewing point. The kids loved this part as there were spy holes cut out of the wood at various different heights. Making your way to the biomes will take you around 5-6 minutes walking, however it took us over an hour as we were exploring the wonderful grounds which had colour and beauty everywhere you looked. Gardeners were taking much care in making the grounds so beautiful however it is very much a hands on place. Although you wouldn't expect that you could trample through a bed of tulips, you can walk around paths and even into bushes and in between small trees where you will find chairs made out of tree stumps or mazes perfect for little ones (and big ones!) to explore. Expect to see sculptures and recycling everywhere. There is so much thought and attention that has gone in to every single detail of the attraction and the fact it is a charity is so impressive. In this outside area directly in front of the biomes, you will meet the WEEE man (although you can't fail to miss him the moment you step foot outside) who has been made from old electrical items that have been discarded. He is extremely tall (I would guess at around 30 foot) and looks quite like a Transformer actually! Another photo opportunity here! He is also educational as the sculpture uses waste equivalent to what one person will throw away in electrical items over their lifetime, and for young children who are less aware of waste, this is a good starting point to begin an explanation.
Entering the first biome, the Rainforest, was amazing. The change in climate the moment you step in is certainly impressive, but here you see the height of the domes and realise they are full of enormous trees and plants. Walking along you see many beautiful plants and flowers, as well as bananas and papaya growing. You will hear birds tweeting and a waterfall flowing. We had dressed relatively cool, despite it being only April, I had anticipated having to shed layers of clothing once inside the biomes, and so we had dressed in t-shirts and cardigans, but the cardigans didn't last long! The longer you stay in the dome, and the higher you get (it gradually seems to wind round higher and higher), the hotter you get. There are warning signs explaining that if you need to get some fresh air you need to turn around as you are around 30 minutes from the exit. I found this particularly helpful with young children, knowing which way I needed to go should I need to get out quickly, although there are staff wandering around all over should you need one quickly. There are emergency exits dotted around but these are obviously for emergencies! We had been in the dome for around 30 minutes when we realised we could get on to a viewing platform which is suspended above the rainforest 30 metres in the air! We checked the children we happy to go up, and after reading a consent form (high blood pressure sufferers, pregnant women, etc, should avoid this part) we were off. We knew the stairs up to it would be tough for the children but what we didn't realise was that it was suspended from the roof and because of this it wobbled as you walked on it! This wasn't terrifying but it didn't make me feel too safe (and I've jumped off a dam before so I'm not easily spooked by heights etc!). The stairs and the viewing platform is see through so you can look below your feet or look through the viewing points at eye level to see the rainforest below. This really is spectacular and if you are making the trip, it is simply something you Have to see if you are able!
The second biome is certainly impressive but it definitely takes second place to the Rainforest biome. The second one is the Mediterranean biome and it's climate is much cooler than the first. The moment we stepped in we could smell paella, and could see an authentic terrace in front of us with a bar area and an open area where a chef was preparing fresh paella. Guests could sit in the large sitting area and catch a bite to eat but we chose to walk on. This biome is much more open rather than the very much guided Rainforest one, and you can deviate from the paths to explore the wonderful sculptures. Here you can expect to see lemon trees, Clementine trees and Olive trees growing everywhere you look and the smells from the lovely flowers is just beautiful. This biome is much more tranquil and we sat on a lovely bench watching the girls explore the rocks and flowers growing (there is no worry of the children exploring and touching the plants, it is almost expected) while we watched the world go by for 10 minutes. Here we managed to unexpectedly sit in on storytelling with a rather quirky old gent with a strong Cornish accent (the first we had in fact heard since arriving!) and joined in on a sing along, before we continued on our 'adventure' (as the girls kept calling it!).
An indoor walkway attached the 2 biomes together and beneath the walkway is the large restaurant area. This just heightened my whole experience and made me love the place all the more. As parents, we have done most attractions and 90% of the time find food is processed, over priced and generally just not very nice in these places.... However, here it couldn't be any further from being like this. We leant over the railings and could see rows and rows of benches followed by kitchen areas where chefs were openly preparing food for sale. The food they were preparing looked delicious and I could see one chef making croissants and folding the pastry, one chef making some amazing looking cakes, and one chef preparing some savoury Danishes full of fresh rocket, asparagus, etc. I nearly leapt over the railings I was so excited to see such delicious and fresh looking food! The eating hall was a fabulous concept and very much in keeping with the general ethos of the place. The benches were all recycled using metal girders and reclaimed wood, with cups hanging above you in neat rows and fresh jugs of water and milk freely dotted around the tables. Prices were reasonable and definitely worth it. The food was just as it looked (delicious and fresh), and wine and beer was available to buy. Generally this area catered for everyone and looking outside you could see rows and rows of herbs, garlic, onions etc growing, so you knew exactly where most of the produce had come from. In this area you will also find a small gift shop selling an assortment of stuff, an information point, toilets and a free cloakroom.
After we had left the biomes, we made our way outside again to explore the rest of the outside area as we had only seen around half of it. It is worthwhile pointing out here that the Eden Project is not just an indoor attraction as we thought it was and so planning to visit here on a rainy day isn't the best idea as you will only get to see half of the attraction. Continuing on our adventure we saw a giant wasp (around 15 foot tall), explored a bamboo maze, and played tug of war with a giant metal sculpture of a man (this was really fun). We were getting tired at this point so didn't get to ride on the tractor which pulls along tourists in much the same way a train would with carriages. We had been exploring the outside area for another hour by this point so decided to make our way to the final indoor area which looked like a giant hedgehog but is actually known as The Core. Outside of this area is a small play area for the children and has a slide which you climb on from outside of the building which takes them inside (we had to drag them off this, they loved it!). Once inside you will see a wall of flying chairs which have been made with local artists and school children. You will have the option to sit in and pretend to drive a Smart car (the kids love this one) and it explains to them all about C02 emissions; but their favourite part of the core is the floor to ceiling wall of fridge doors which are just full of alphabet magnets which you can use to write anything you want (obviously most opt for their names). This is another opportunity for a funky photo. After our second mammoth explore of the outside, we were ready for another coffee and sit down and you can take yourselves up to the first floor café which sells cakes, Panini's and fresh drinks. After we had left here we decided to call it a day as we had been walking for around 5 hours. It is easy to see why the attraction has been made an annual ticket as you struggle to see everything in one visit. I read in various places around the attraction, that you should visit at different times of the year as the attraction is constantly changing.
No attraction is complete without the 'exit through the gift shop' however I really enjoyed this gift shop! Yes it is fairly steep in price for the majority of things, but rather than the usual over priced junk which get shoved to the bottom of a drawer, the things for sale here are interesting, useful, and mean something. Everything is ether recycled, has been made locally or is fair-trade. There is a small garden centre, where you have the opportunity to take home a little bit of the Eden Project for your own garden. There are chocolates, homemade breads and ciders, jewellery and clothing, books, as well as more unusual items such as a hand bag made entirely from ring pulls from drinks cans. I treat myself to some lovely rosehip face moisturiser and some glittery flower chocolates, while my husband opted for the cider, and the girls went for scrap books and hair bobbles! The variety is excellent and there will be the perfect gift for everyone.
Facilities around the attraction are excellent and one thing I initially noticed when we went to the bathroom was that the toilets were rather unclean. However, this wasn't the case, and after reading a sign, I realised that the water was all taken from collected rain water on site in order to reduce costs and the downfall was that it caused discolouration! The site never failed to amaze me - even in the toilets!!
Disabled access is excellent and the only place that I can think that wouldn't be accessible for a wheelchair users would be the viewing point above the rainforest.
Adults £23 (£19 if you cycle, walk or take public transport to the attraction)
Concessions (Over 60s and students) £16.50 (£12.50 if you cycle, walk or take public transport to the attraction)
Children aged 5- 16 £9.50 (Free if you cycle, etc)
1 Carer will gain entry for free (1 per disabled guest)
Entrance includes free entry to the car park.
Open every day except 24th and 25th December. Entry times vary but as a general rule they are open from 9.30am to 6pm with the last ticket sales being at 4.30pm.
Recommended? YES YES YES! GO. NOW!!!!!!!!! There really isn't anything left to say about this place, other than that you have to go. Given that it is so amazing is one thing, but that it is a charity means that the money they raise can go towards worthwhile causes and the constant improvement and upkeep of the site (there are over a million plants and flowers on site!!!!). Don't forget to gift aid your visit if you are a UK tax payer!
(P.S. Sorry this review is far far too long, but this is a condensed version of everything I had to include!)
When I recently stayed in Cornwall for a month whilst working voluntarily at Truro Cathedral, I was able to take the opportunity to visit the Eden Project and was immediately impressed with it!
The cost for a student (which I was at the time) was £14 which isn't too bad really for what you get. Adult tickets are £20 and children 5-16 cost £7.50. You can also save more by either buying tickets online in advance or by travelling there by bicycle or public transport. The opening and closing times are dependent upon the time of year and can be viewed on the website. The Eden Project is well sign posted so getting there by car is quite easy and they are several huge car parks so parking usually isn't a problem.
When you first arrive at the Eden project you are met with a fantastic view across the whole of the grounds going down to the strange looking Biomes. The plant life on the walk down is exceptional, there are lots of little path ways to take and the smell of all of the flowers is breath-taking. We went on a summer's day and it was absolutely beautiful but my brother (who lived in Cornwall at the time) said that he had been there in all seasons and it is always as beautiful. The walk is quite steep and long so I would suggest that those with walking impairments can take the lift which has panoramic views of the grounds down to where the main area is.
When you get down to the main area there are lots of different exhibitions and gardens which again are cleverly designed to showcase the beauty of the plant life and flowers alike. In the middle are the two Biomes. One is a Mediterranean Biome. Once inside you feel as though have travelled to a hot country such as Spain with the heat, plant life, décor and theme. I can't believe quite how huge this dome is and the diverse plant life that grows here. It really is spectacular. The second of the Biomes is far more impressive than the first, its theme being the Amazon rainforest. When you walk in the heat and humidity hit you and you instantly start to sweat buckets! Luckily they have placed several water fountains around the dome to help with dehydration. Inside here there are many stunning sights to be seen whether you are interested in the plant life, insects or the ways that people live in the Amazon rainforest. I was fascinated with the thousands of ants all over the plants and the bananas hanging from the trees. This Dome is huge; it is so big I can't quite believe how they did it. There is also an education centre in this section which is quite fun though I can imagine that some people, especially small children would find this part slightly boring.
In between the two Biomes is a selection of food halls, we ate in the Eden bakery which was reasonably priced. The food here was delicious and very filling. As you are leaving the Eden Project you walk through the gift shop which has a variety of items to buy from seeds to food produce.
We have just returned from a long weekend in Cornwall. One thing my partner wanted to visit whilst we were there was The Eden Project, I will be honest I wasn't particularly keen on visiting if I'm honest as it didn't seem like my cup of tea. However, he wanted to go so we went along yesterday morning before we came home.
The Eden Project is owned by The Eden Trust which is an educational charity and focuses on the natural world. The Eden Project shows some of the natural world and is home to the largest conservatories in the world. It focuses largely on plants and also some architecture. It is situated near St Austell in Cornwall.
We travelled to The Eden Project by car, which was very simple. We used the sat nav but there were many brown signs along the way which made finding the place very easy. When we got there we were directed where to park, there are many car parks but because it was a Monday morning it wasn't too busy which meant we could park closer to the entrance and we were a short walk away (less than 5 minutes), for the disabled there are car parks closer to the entrance. If you are in a car park quite far from the entrance, a park and ride service is available.
If you do not drive, there are other ways to get to The Eden Project, the nearest train station is in St Austell which is 4 miles away, from the train there are various bus services which run to the park (see website for more details). If you are close enough to travel by bus, Eden has its own bus service which runs regular buses from Newquay, St Austell, Helston, Truro and Falmouth which is brilliant for tourists.
So after parking the car we took a leisurely stroll to the entrance. When we got there it was clearly marked where we should go as we hadn't already bought tickets. There were plenty of ticket terminals, however only 3 had staff on them but we went straight through as it wasn't busy.
I had looked on the website the previous evening and had seen that an adult ticket cost £16, however on the way down to the park there were many signs saying if you wanted to have unlimited access for a year it would cost £17.50, as long as you gift aided your donation. The lady who served us asked if I was a tax payer and I replied no, she also never gave us the option to just buy the day ticket, instead charging us the £17.50. Now I'm not too annoyed as we did get annual passes (despite me not being a tax payer) however it is unlikely we will visit again during the year due to us living so far away. She offered us a guide book which we replied no to as it cost a hefty £5, we were not offered a map but we did manage to find one for ourselves after leaving the terminal.
We wanted to head straight for the biomes - the large greenhouses which Eden is famous for. When we got there we were told the biomes were having some final checks and they would be open shortly so we had a little wander about, the biomes ended up opening at about 10am even though the park had already been open half an hour.
The Rainforest Biome - This was the biome that I was most interested in. It is based around the rainforests of West Africa and South America and there is plenty to see in here. There is no wildlife (unless you count the ants or the occasional outside bird that has come in through one of the vents!) but there are plenty of plants and trees to look at. I didn't think I would enjoy looking at plants as I'm not really a gardening person however I did find it very interesting. There were lots of different plants in here that I never thought I would see such as a banana tree and a cocoa plant. The biome is all about trade and how it is important to buy fair trade, there are various 'scenes' in the biome such as trading ships and camp areas which help to break up the plants. My favourite part of the biome was the large waterfall, this was great to see and a spectacular thing to have inside! We spent around 45 minutes wandering around the biome, we weren't in any rush and took a lot of pictures so we were in there probably a bit longer than most people. It is very very hot in this biome, you will need to take a drink (there are water fountains dotted around but not always when you need one), there are plenty of emergency exits if you need one.
The Mediterranean Biome - I was also keen to go in this biome. We went in this biome after the rainforest one and I was very relieved when we walked through the door to find out that it was much cooler. This biome is based on the Mediterranean, South Africa and California and it shows the plants that grow in a climate where the soil is very dry. There is plenty to see in here such as fruits, flowers, tobacco and vegetables. I found this biome very interesting and we probably spent around 30 minutes in here, this biome is smaller than the Rainforest Biome but is still very interesting.
When we went in the biomes it was relatively quiet, we went in at around 10am on a weekday and I can imagine it would get extremely busy in the middle of the day, especially at weekends. Therefore if you can I would recommend going in the biomes either early on in the day or later because the heat in the Rainforest Biome would prove to be very uncomfortable if you were surrounded with people.
There is now a treetop walk in the Rainforest Biome where you can walk around the biome at a height. This is a guided tour and run at specific times throughout the day, tickets are not available from the biome so you must buy them beforehand. Tickets are usually £5 each but at the moment they are just £3. We didn't go on this because I don't have a brilliant head for heights and personally we felt we had spent enough that morning already.
There is also lots to see outside so it is probably best to visit Eden on a nice day. There are hundreds of plants and there are so many gardens to see. There are a few things dotted about to keep the kids happy such as a slate xylophone and some displays however we did notice there isn't a great deal here for younger families other than in The Core.
The Core is an interactive part of Eden, where there are lots of things for kids to do, such as press buttons on displays, play with fridge magnets and learn how plants keep us alive. We spent around 10 minutes in here, there was plenty to see but it was getting very busy at this point and we didn't really get a turn on anything. I imagine this is a good place for older children (say 7+) but there is very little for those younger than that.
The Stage is home to seasonal entertainment and they are currently building an ice rink here which will be open at half term.
There are plenty of cafes dotted around and prices are reasonable, there are opportunities to buy produce farmed in Eden but we noticed that the vegetables didn't actually have any prices on which put us off buying any. There is also a plant shop which we didn't look at.
There is a large shop as you leave Eden which sells an awful lot of things in it from stationary to candles, from books to biscuits. Lots of the stuff in here is Cornish produce but the prices were quite high.
We enjoyed our morning at Eden and we are glad we visited. We spent around 2.5 hours here and found we couldn't really have done much else. If we are in the area again then we will go back but only because we have annual passes meaning our entry will be free. I think the entry fee is very high for what it is but then I felt that Eden was a place that everyone should visit at some point and after all, the money does go towards a good cause. We would recommend Eden but there is little here for younger families.
Currently, prices are as follows:
You can buy slightly discounted tickets online (for example an adult is £16.50) and there are also discounted tickets available for people who arrive by public transport (for example an adult will cost £13.50).
The Eden Project is currently open 9:30am - 6pm 7 days a week. However, times are often changing, for example they stay open later in the summer so it is worth checking the website before your visit.
If you have any questions or wish to contact Eden their phone number is 01726 811911. Alternatively, you can visit their website http://www.edenproject.com/
Our recent visit to the Eden Project in Cornwall was not our first. We originally went there for a long weekend about two years ago. We enjoyed it very much and promised ourselves that we would return. It is, however, quite a hike from where we live so it's not the sort of place you can just pop in to spend a few hours at the drop of a hat. Consequently our "free entry for a year" benefit was not of particular benefit to us.
The story of the Eden Project is, by now, well known, how a worked-out China Clay pit was transformed into a haven of ecology with the biggest "greenhouses" in the World, the Biomes which contain a landscape of Tropical and Mediterranean flora, together with an outdoors area for flora suitable for our temperate UK climate. The Eden Project has been a huge success with visitors coming to see it from all around the World.
The Eden Project is pretty much in the middle of nowhere; St Austell is probably the nearest major town; we have found a guest house not more than a mile away. Access is best by car and they have a huge amount of car parking space available to accommodate the ever-growing numbers. Free buses can take you to the entrance should it be necessary to park in any of the more distant car parks.
At the entrance, where you buy your tickets, you will also find the gift shop, the plant shop and also a small café. Walking through this area you emerge onto the lip of the hole and look down a couple of hundred feet to the site laid out before you. On the far side are the two major Biomes, linked by the services area where you will find refreshments in one of a number of outlets. In front of the Biomes is the Arena where the Eden Project hosts live shows, the reason for our second visit.
Between where you start out and all this is the outdoor Biome. You descend to the floor of the site through the outdoor zone by any one of a number of paths and stairways. Everywhere there are different plants being grown with many having explanations of why particular crops are planted there and what they offer to the World by way of purely decorative, or serious application, such as for the drugs that can be extracted from them. Many are food crops, some having been specifically developed for disease resistance.
The indoor Biomes are the Tropical zone and the Mediterranean zone. The Tropical zone is, as the name would suggest, very hot and sticky. However, the walk through this zone is fascinating and covers the sort of flora you will find in many parts of the World.
It is also strange to find non-native birds flying around you. Although it is possible for them to escape through the temperature regulating roof vents, I get the impression that they mostly spend there lives here. I suppose that when you are so small and the enclosure so big, it probably feels like the whole World! There are supposed to be small lizards here as well, all to help with insect control, but we didn't spot any.
Walking right round and taking in all the exhibits and information boards, plus taking pictures, took us about an hour, by which time it was time for a drink in the link area. Then, on to the Mediterranean Biome. This is a bit smaller and didn't take us nearly as long to cover. I guess we spent around three-quarters of an hour there. The Mediterranean designation is nominal since some of the areas represented American landscapes as well.
That just gives you a flavour of what there is to see. On the most recent occasion we hadn't really come to visit the exhibits: we'd come to see Mika. Our concert tickets granted us entry to the Eden Project for the day of the concert and the following day as well, if you wanted. We went the same day and spent the whole day there until the concert started.
The Eden Project started the Eden Sessions a while back and they have had some real headline artists performing there. The night before the Mika concert they had enjoyed a full house for Jack Johnson. We had paid £35 a head to see Mika (both my wife and I are huge fans) and then had a real bonus when it was subsequently announced that the support act would be Diana Vickers!
Throughout the day there was also entertainment around the site. There were various artists performing on a little stage in the Mediterranean zone and to the side of the main Arena stage is the Stage Right Stage, where other artists performed from mid-afternoon onwards. You could just sit and listen to them until the main show started if you had already exhausted the possibilities offered by the Eden Project; many did.
The Arena holds around 5,000 I would guess and was pretty well full on the night. For the Jack Johnson concert they even managed to squeeze in an extra thousand, who had to sit or stand on the steps leading down to the floor of the site; a long way from the stage but with a brilliant view. The area in front of the stage is asphalted and rises gradually away from the stage until it meets a surrounding grassy bank. This rises much more steeply and, although here about 50 metres from the stage, is probably better from a viewing point of view as there is little obstruction in front of you. Anyway, that's where we chose to go.
The concert was a blast. I have to confess I knew little about Diana Vickers, never having watched the X-Factor and only having been conscious of her No. 1 - "Once" which I admit I like very much. Well, I was blown away. She was superb, bouncy and lively, she put on a really up-beat performance. No way was she overshadowed by the mighty Mika. She did about a one hour set and finished to rapturous applause.
There was then a gap of about three-quarters of an hour before Mika, during which you could go out and get food and refreshments. Around the Arena were bars and food outlets, including a barbecue which billowed smoke alarmingly! During the show, all refreshments have to be paid for with pre-purchased cream and orange tokens. Don't worry about buying too many because you can get unused ones refunded after the show.
Then it was Mika. He was brilliant. He really gives value for money. The set was nearly two hours long during which he covered just about everything from his two albums and a bit more. The guy is a real showman and he has such an original collection of music. The audience was screaming for more at the end and he came back to do four more songs including "We are Golden" and, of course, "Grace Kelly".
I can think of only two other artists who have entertained so brilliantly: Sailor, who we saw at Manchester's Apollo many, many years ago, and the infamous Mott The Hoople concert at the Liverpool Arena in 1971.
The only let-down was the exit from the Eden Project after the concert. All but one route back up to the top had been blocked off, so creating a bottleneck that meant it took around half an hour just to get back up to the entrance. The next problem was getting out of the site by car, once again through just one exit. All in all it was probably an hour after the concert had finished when we were finally on our way back to our accommodation.
Was it worth it? Absolutely. Would we go again? Without hesitation.
This is a charity project owned by the Eden Trust & was set up as one of the Landmark projects to celebrate the Millennium in 2000. Most people think of it as a kind of glorified garden centre with exhibits. They use exhibits, events, workshops and educational programmes to remind people of our dependence on, and connection to the natural world.
This is located in an old exhausted 160 year old china clay quarry near St Austell in Cornwall.
Information about how it was set up etc can be found on their own website. It is too lengthy to bore you with all the details here, as the object of this exercise really is to give you my experience & opinion.
It is not an easy place to find. We set the Sat Nav but as it is a couple of years old & new roads have been built in the area since then, it showed a blank screen where it thought roads should have been & some dotted lines. 'Jane' the Sat Nav lady got thoroughly confused & sent us in different directions. It was only then that we managed to spot one of the brown tourist signposts & got back to going in the right direction. You have to drive through a housing estate (I bet the residents loved that when all the building work was going on & now they have to contend with living on a busy road full of tourists that don't know where they are going.) There are not many signposts & eventually you have to make a decision which way to go. Needless to say we took the wrong turn & ended up with huge lorries in a depot. We had to turn around while frustrated lorry drivers were trying to ignore us & enter their premises.
When we arrived at the Eden Project we drove into a huge car park where there were car park attendants herding all the cars into bays a long way from the main entrance. As we were displaying disabled badges we were waved on & arrived at our allotted place which was nearer to the main entrance. We decided to have our picnic on the grass beside the car as I knew the cafes inside would be ultra expensive. (To be honest we had been there once before & upon finding out what the entrance fee was had not paid on principle. We did however spend an exorbitant amount in their café just on things like tea & bacon rolls & some chocolate in the gift shop, and then we turned round and went home again!) Anyway to get back to our recent visit, we set out our picnic on a beautiful day, but it was spoiled by the car park buses sitting with their diesel engines running all the time very near to us. I am not quite sure why quite so many buses have to keep running backwards & forwards from the further car parking spaces to the entrance - they are mostly at least 2/3rds empty.
We eventually made our way to the pay till. We had a Gardeners World 2 for 1 entry card, which lets you into any of the gardens listed on it for a year if paying for an adult at the same time. We mentioned that as over 60 we were entitled to pay the senior price of £11.00 instead of the normal adult price of £16.00 but the lady said we would have to pay £16 if we were using the Gardeners World 2 for 1 ticket. This we did & decided to take out the Gift Aid which entitles you to come back as many times in the year as you wish. We checked with the lady that we would both be eligible to come back with our tickets. It wasn't until she had processed the card details & put the payment through that she said she didn't think we would. She also said, you'll know what to do next time - pay the £11.00 senior rate!! We had to go to a machine a bit like a cash machine & register the Gift Aid card for future use. At this point we started asking questions about the future use. To cut a long story short we were sent from, pillar to post before we got a definite answer that only the person who had paid & signed up for Gift Aid would be able to come back but the other person getting in on the Gardener's World 2 for 1 ticket, which remember allows you to come back as many times in the year as you wish (excluding July & August when it can't be used at all) would not be able to come back & use it as no one out of us as a couple would be paying the full price on that day as we already had one ticket for the year - are you following this? So not only had we paid £5 over the odds, we now learned that we couldn't go back together! It became a joke for the rest of the visit (& forever more I suspect) that my partner could go back but I couldn't. He kept saying well I can come back & have another look but you can't! I think it was a case of you have to laugh or you will cry.
We were taken round the grounds to the biomes on a land train which was probably the best bit of the visit & we were actually not charged any extra for that!
When we disembarked we didn't know where to go. We made our way to a biome only to find we had gone to the emergency exit doors which were obviously closed. We eventually found the main foyer which is over a bridge & asked in there where to go. Nowhere did we see any signposting to the biomes entrances. In fact from outside & from a distance it looks as if there are more than the two biomes.The staff at the information kiosk were not particularly friendly, as if it was too much trouble for them. Three of them were chatting to each other & we just got pointed in the right direction & handed a leaflet, without any courteousness or friendly answers to our questions. They probably didn't like it that we hadn't forked out another £5 for a booklet with map.
There are two huge biomes which are like greenhouses made of giant bubble wrap to look at.
There is the Rainforest Biome which is planted & set out to represent the humid tropical regions of the world, showing you the plants that grow there, and all the things they give us. The Rainforest Biome contains nearly 1,129 plants from the main rainforest regions: South-East Asia, West Africa, South America and the tropical oceanic islands, particularly the Seychelles and St Helena. Within this there are over twenty different displays, from a Malaysian Garden to a banana plantation.
There is a board at the entrance telling you that you should bring a water drinking bottle (a bit late when you are already inside) & that there are drinking fountains all around the biome. There was a waterfall & obviously very many plants & various huts & things set up to look like settlements & workplaces. I didn't get very far before I was overcome with the heat & humidity & we could not find the said drinking fountains. I have since found out that there are four of them dotted around but they were not obvious. Apparently there is a cooling off hut for emergencies. I didn't get as far as that before I needed to turn back to get out.
We eventually went back in to see all of it feeling more refreshed after spending an exorbitant amount in one of their shops, on a few small bottles of water to take with us. We did wonder why we had bothered, as it wasn't anything really to remember.
The other biome represents the Mediterranean area & is less humid & more pleasant to walk around. This colourful, sensory journey begins in the Mediterranean Basin, takes you across the equator to South Africa, and on to experience the grandeur of the Californian landscape. A Mediterranean climate is defined by hot, dry summers and frost-free, rainy winters. Winter and spring are the main growing seasons. There you will see some familiar plants that we have here & also the more exotic flowering plants as well as fruit & vegetables & a few statues of things like bulls. There are little benches where you can sit & watch the birds (English birds that have come in through the ventilation at the top of the dome) but never the less pleasant to watch. This biome was prettier than the Rain Forest one.
NOTE; Biomes, unlike glass, transmit UV light, so you may need your sunhat & sunglasses!
There is also a lot to walk around outside such as allotments etc., with giant furry insects made out of I don't know what & what's more we were not sure what some of them they were supposed to be but again, not very interesting.
The huge gift shop at the exit sells many plants, chocolate, boxed biscuits, honey, toys, flower pots, books etc all at a very high price. As with most places you are led through the gift shop or the café to the exit to encourage you to spend, spend, spend until the last.
Considering it is supposed to be a shining example of how we can help the planet & combat greenhouse gasses & climate change & global warming, there was an awful lot of fuel being used unnecessarily! The biomes obviously need heating, but do they need an air conditioned room in the middle? The buses run with just a few people in them, one after the other following each other & then they sit with their engines still running. The shops & cafes are all lit with electricity when some of them have huge panoramic windows. There are TV screens & models running on electricity or maybe some sort of generator but I think that still costs to run.
Suffice to say that we didn't enjoy our visit; we thought it was a waste of money & not very interesting at all. On our way out of the large gift shop at the exit we spied a box saying post your questionnaires here. We hadn't been given a questionnaire so back we went to ask for one. Once again we asked about four people before we found someone who knew the answer (well after a style, seems like most don't actually know the proper answers to anything, but just fob you off with a reply they think will do). We were told that they are only given out to selected people at particular times & we couldn't have one!
Everywhere you go, whether it be the pay tills, the security guards, the sales assistants, it seems the right hand doesn't know what the left hand is doing & practically no one can give you any proper answers. I know they are busy & must employ extra staff, but you should be able to get an answer to a question without getting sent from pillar to post every time.
We live in Devon but the journey back was tedious, it is in such an awkward place that it seemed to take forever, much longer than when we go right to the end of Cornwall to Penzance.
After a couple of days I sent a letter stating that as we were not given the opportunity to fill out their questionnaire, I would like to give them my comments now. The reply came this morning saying yes they only give questionnaires at specific times to do their research effectively but that we should have been offered a visitor comment form which are readily available! They also offered me a refund of the overcharged £5 if I phoned them & asked for it which I have just done.
I think the entrance fee is very exorbitant & so is everything else there.
The following week we went to Paignton Zoo. The entrance fee there was at least £6 cheaper for each person & considering they have to maintain the extensive grounds, feed the animals, build maintain the animal housing, pay vets bills & the keepers etc., I think is much more reasonable. It was also a far more entertaining & interesting day out!
If you want a good day out, I wouldn't recommend that you waste your time & money going to The Eden Project! Overall, I thought it was pretty boring & vastly overpriced with not very good service.
Update on 26/6/2010 - This morning I received a cheque for £5 with a written apology that we had been overcharged. Also a 2 disc DVD about the Eden project called Eden the inside story,which they hope I will accept with their compliments. This comes up as £13 on their website as the price sold in their shops. A result with the refund, but once again shows how grossly their products are overcharged - I certainly wouldn't have paid £13 for the DVD!
Just off the A390, the Eden Project sits in a former clay quarry in the Cornish countryside. Due to the site being in a dip, you won't actually see it until you've paid for entry (£16 for adults at time of writing).
The most obvious icons of the Eden Project are its domes - huge greenhouse type structures made of interconnected hexagonal glass panels. On my first visit to the site, I thought that each dome had a different theme or contents, although it turns out that group of domes on the left is the rainforest area and the set of domes on the right are the Mediterranean area.
In the rainforest dome, there are (amazingly!) banana trees, coffee, plants, various palm trees and jungle creepers, all surrounding the centrepiece of a hypnotic waterfall. Staring at this waterfall, in the climate controlled sticky heat of the dome and surrounded by the exotic planting, it is easy to believe you are no longer in England's green and (banana tree free) pleasant land and actually in a west African, Malaysian, or south American jungle. Plants and trees from these parts of the world are used superbly well in the dome, interspersed with educational scenes from the jungle, including a banana plantation factory, (hey kids, intensive farming is bad for the planet man!) a Malaysian bamboo hut and various signs and information boards preaching the virtues of fairtrade and sustainability. According to one of these information signs, an area of rainforest the size of the dome is cut down every ten seconds. Makes you think.
The Mediteranean dome isn't a replica of an Italian small holding, the term "mediteranean zone" actually represents parts of the world with a warm, temperate climate and includes planting representing California, Australia, south Africa and of course the Mediteranean. The citrus grove was quite impressive with trees full of oranges, clementines, lemons and limes on show. As with the rainforest dome, the plants and trees are interspersed with various educational exhibits and artworks, all promoting 'eco-sensitivity' and bio-diverse conservation. I think I saw a sign saying "olive oil - an oil for peace", but I like to think instead that this was a trick of the light and that the Eden Project wouldn't be so "out there, man". Tasty pestos, light frying and salad dressings - yes, but olive oil as an instrument of world peace? - the UN secretary general has nothing to fear.
Throughout both domes are 'food trail' stamping machines to be used by kids armed with a treasure hunt style fact sheet provided at reception.
As the Eden Project's website boasts, most of the plants at the site are located outside of the domes. As the site is quite large, this makes for an interesting long walk round all the different themed green areas, or gardens in old money. These outside areas include allotments, plants that require insect pollenation and seasonal planting (daffodils in spring etc).
Also outside of the two domes is the education centre, full of video screens, exhibits, artwork, thought provoking sculptures made of recyclable materials etc, again, all promoting a 'green' message.
Undercover inbetween the two domes, with the option of sitting outside in nicer weather, are two themed cafes - a med style bistro and a jungle themed cafe. I can recommend the pizzas in the med cafe - all made on site using produce grown in the outdoor gardens and very tasty.
The last main feature of the outdoor area is the elevated viewing platform, accessible either by lift or steps. The platform offers a great view of the site as it is situated at the far end of the quarry, so you can look back at the domes and outside gardens in all their impressive splendour. The viewing platform is linked back to the entrance to the site via a bridge. Back inside the entrance, there is a shop (think craft - type handmade jewellery with hefty price tags) and another cafe.
Overall, I think the Eden Project is a place worth visiting but could be a little cheaper. Also, I got the sense that the Project is suffering from an identity crisis, and is not really sure who or what it is. For example, the "green" message on display throughout the site wasn't rigorously enforced - various video screens and the big projection screen in the education centre cinema were blaring out of the virtues of sustainable development and conservation, but nobody was watching them! Im glad I don't pay their electricity bill. However, I did say it was a place worth visiting - the amount of plants on show and the spectacle of the rainforest domes is remarkable. Overall, their heart is in the right place with the whole "save the world" message, so I can't be too critical of them. As an attraction, I give the Eden Project four stars out of five - the fifth star would only be given if ticket prices were cheaper and the eco-message was given more attention with regards to their own practices.
I though that the Eden Project was going to be a shining example of how we should all be living in harmony with the planet. How wrong was I! Firstly the 2 parking attendants herd you into the car park. Then you jump on a bus (engine running) and it takes half a dozen people a very short distance to the entrance. Now the admission fee! £16 for an adult! This is so over the top for an attraction which struggles to occupy you for 3 hours max.
Was I wrong in expecting the biomes to work like a greenhouse? Massive heaters sit around the perimiter of both biomes! How good for the environment is this? Even worse, when you get half way around the tropical biome there is a cool room full of air conditioning units! At the point i became really angry the whole site seems to be zapping power. What is with all the lifts? There is no need or reason for them. It was just bizarre, after reading all about global warming in the exhibition centre you are encouraged to get in a lift and then walk over a completely pointless bridge.
The whole project is so misguided with absolutely no direction. Most of of the sculptures and models had moving parts powered by electricity! Why!? They were not even good, and there was no reason for them to be moving.
And now for the creme de la creme, the one thing that annoyed me the most! Lights on indoors during the day time. In all the cafes and the exhibition centres the lights were blazing away. Did any though go into this project? Would it have been to difficult to design buildings that let natural light in?
Whats with the ice skating rink? The amount of power needed for freeze and maintain ice is massive and on a 10 degree day all of the doors and sides were open. So what powers Eden? You would expect something really quite good wouldn't you?! Well theres a small wind turbine on the edge of the site but thats it, very dissapointing. Oh and another thing, open fronted fridges in the cafe's. Is there any effort or though put into this project?
So the plants. Yes there is an amazing variety of plants from all around the world but there is not really anything worth writing home about. It was quite nice to see a cashew tree, that was the peak of my excitement. Garden centres have some pretty exotic plants and the Eden project is not really doing much that garden centres dont.
Im not actually an angry person! The major dissapointment of this attraction has lead me to ask questions. Why does it cost so much to get in? Why is it such a failure? Why is there nothing there of any interest! (like just a small amount of history about the area) Why are they preaching such an environmental message when they have completely failed themselves.
It could have been so good. We all could have learnt something from visiting the site and it could have made the world a better place but the Eden Project has completely missed the point.
Cornwall can be a long way to go. Unless you live in Cornwall. But I suspect people who live in Cornwall regard it as treachery to travel to the next village - so it could be something of a journey for them too.
Once you're in Cornwall head for the bit that's been most ravaged by man and there you'll find the Eden Project.
Enter the Eden Project: simple isn't it? No it's not.
First park the car; then get on a shuttle bus; get off shuttle bus; wait on the end of a seemingly endless queue that wends and winds through a wasteland for what seems like miles in the blazing sun.
I did indulge in some serious moaning at this point but in fact the queue went down much faster than |I imagined And we were there in what only seemed like hours: ready to give them our money.
In we went - not quite in: another long walk to the big main geodesic dome thingies. We decided to eat first as we were now knackered and starving (possibly part of the whole cunning plan) on their part.
Well, we attempted to eat - we were given disposable/recyclable cutlery which was so insubstantial it was a challenge to stab or cut anything on the plate. Thankfully we had fingers and a swiss army knife.
In the Dome it's rather like a huge garden centre, loads of plants and stuff all over the place, humid, lots of walking uphill and downhill to fully appreciate all the loads of plants and stuff.
One plant smelt like rice - amazing - I'd come 200 miles for that. The missus in raptures over everything, she thought every inch of it was marvellous - all these plants from all over the world she'd never seen growing before. We went outside - more plants, more raptures and wonderment from the missus. More walking uphill.
The gift shop is large and has some very tasty garden accesories and typical giftshop fare, lots of it with some sort of ecological twist to it.
The missus bought armfuls of stuff.
We went home.
The UK's eco gem as they would have you think. An example of conservation, of making something out of what was desolate and would have been left, and making it into an example for the future. The Eden Project is a charity, was funded by the lottery and Millenium Collection.
Eden is easily accessible, by a connecting bus service from St Austell train station or by car signposted from the A30. They have lots of car parking available in several car parks, with interconnecting buses from the outer car parks. If you come by bike you can save £4 off the adult fare. That brings you to the admission prices, £16 for adults, £11 for seniors, £5 for children, £8 for students and £38 for families. Remember to gift aid you're payment as they do get an extra 28p in the £1 for what you spend, and you get a year's free entry for paying one days.
Inside the major attractions are the two amazing biomes, which are amazing structures, built of hexagon bubbles of ETFE plastic built on an uneven surface. The largest ones is a rainforest biome, you enter the biomes through part of the visitor centre, containing the restaurant and facilities. The rainforest biome is not for the faint hearted as it very hot and humid, but absolutely amazing with plants from out in the rainforest towering over your heads. Waterfalls and pools are scattered through the biome, and it gets hotter as you climb to the top of the biome, but it is worth the climb. The water fountains are few and far between as you go through the biome. Even trying to take photos of the scenery the camera lens was getting fogged up! As you get back down to ground level in the biome it almost feels cold and you realise how hot it is in there.
The second biome, a bit smaller, is a Mediterranean climate, warm but very dry air, and reflects alot of the climate across Europe and the different plant species you find nearer the equator. This biome we found a little boring after the rainforest! But it did have some good exhibits inside about water usage and recycling which were interesting. We got intercepted by coach parties starting to come in by the time we had got into this biome which started to spoil it!
Afterward the different climates we decided to grab some lunch, prices were high as we expected, and I was disappointed by the selection of food and drink on offer for the type of attraction, expecting everything to be at least recycled or local or so forth. What was amazing while eating in the restaurant which is partly indoor and also outdoor under a canopy, was the birds and how amazingly tame they are, they were eating the crumbs off the table we were sitting at and sitting on the backs of the chairs around us. These were robins and tits as well, not the usual vermin birds!
The Core, the other main building on site contains lots of educational games and exhibits and I expect it will get used alot more when school tours are in. Also around the site there are examples of recycling everywhere, including car parts and plastic recycling. There are also lots of fruit/vegetables growing, and they were working and harvesting it while we were there. There was also a huge music stage there while we were there as they planning a music concert that evening, I'm not sure if it was a permanent structure.
The shop at the start/end of the entrance is an impressive shop for any tourist attraction, they also have a small nursery with some of the plants growing around the project. The shop sells all the usual things you would expect as well as lots of produce that is from the fruit/vegetables grown on site, and lots of organic produce.
Overall a wonderful attraction, well enjoyed, perhaps looking a little dated after it now being several years old now. Expensive to get in, and I'm not sure it's really worth that much!
The Eden Project is probably the most famous man-made attraction in Cornwall. I heard quite a lot about it in recent years and I was very eager to see it for myself this summer, even though I wasn't quite sure what to expect. I knew it was going to be rather expensive, but I was still shocked to discover that standard tickets cost £16 per adult. Luckily, we came across a deal on the Internet, which offered a reduced entry fee of "just" £10 and free entry for children after 3 pm until 8 pm during extended opening hours on certain days in the summer. This seemed like a good deal, especially that we would do anything to avoid big crowds.
When we arrived at around half past four, we were surprised to see the scale of the car parks. There are several sizable car parks scattered around the site. They are marked with the images of fruits instead of the usual letters and numbers. Some of them are located at a considerable distance from the entrance, so there's a shuttle service to transport visitors back and forth. We were first directed into a car park by an attendant that had no spaces available! We finally found a spot in the Plum section and we were able to walk to the entrance from there. It was about five o'clock by the time we got to the entrance. Many visitors were leaving by then, so we didn't have to wait too long to get in, only about ten minutes. I don't think we could have put up with the long queues during peak periods. Knowing ourselves, we would have probably turned around and drove away fuming that we wasted our time and petrol to get there. I can imagine that many visitors who wait for a long time to get in will end up very disappointed with what the site has to offer. It quite simply doesn't live up to the expectations. It must be the most over-hyped and under-developed attraction in the UK!
So what is there to see at the Eden Project? Two giant greenhouses, and that's it. Undoubtedly, the constructions are impressive from the outside and offer a great photo op. The domes contain an imitation rain forest and a Mediterranean biome. The rain forest biome is a lot bigger and far more impressive than the Mediterranean landscape.
Inside the rain forest dome, the climate was extremely hot and humid. Visitors are advised to drink plenty of water from drinking fountains and you should be careful if you have a heart condition. Also, look out for your camera lenses misting up! We spent about a good half hour in the rain forest dome, looking at the giant trees, plants, ponds, and the waterfall. We discovered some strange looking ants that, I assume, were imported along with the plants. It was interesting but it didn't really wow us that much, to be honest.
We were quite eager to quit the rain forest after a while as the heat and humidity were getting to us and entered the adjacent greenhouse, connected by a large cafeteria in the middle. The Mediterranean dome is arguably less exciting, as many of us will have seen similar sceneries for real in Greece, Spain or Italy, for example. It was pleasant, but nothing special. We spent only about 15-20 minutes in there. I was quite eager to explore some more sceneries, when to my disappointment, I came to the realisation, that that was it.
After visiting the greenhouses, we wondered around outside aimlessly, had an ice-cream, took some photos and looked at a sculpture made out of junk. I couldn't help wondering that the whole place had seen better days and it looked as if it could do with a face-lift. We came across an educational exhibition with some animated compositions that lit up and started moving periodically on a timer. It failed to impress even our four-year-old, who would have preferred to push some buttons to bring the animations to life. The wall made out of old fridges where children could play with letter magnets is hardly worth mentioning. There was also a separate area with some sort of raft and tent builing activities going on inside, but they failed to inspire our four-year-old as they were aimed at older children. Our son was more interested in the gift shop, where he bought a wind-up torch with his pocket money. It was a good purchase for just £2.50 and he's been playing with it ever since.
In my opinion, the Eden Project is over-hyped and grossly over-priced. It was just about worth visiting but only because we got a discount and we managed to avoid the crowds during the extended opening hours - although it was still rather busy. The rain forest dome was interesting, but if we had had to queue for hours and pay the full £16 to see it - I would have been very very disappointed.
If you would like to find out more about the Eden project, please visit their website: http://www.edenproject.com/
The eden project is the climax of the eco-friendly-ness. Built in an unused quarry site, houses two bioshperes that create two habitats, one of a dry desert, and the other a tropical rainforest. The rest of the site is used partly as a sort of garden, there is a cafe, and other parts are for sculptures depicting how to stay green etc.
The idea behind it is to teach people how to be as friendly as possible to the environment, by showing them what they could be losing, and how they could be losing it.
The two biomes are very impressive. On the right, the dry one, there are lots of dry habitated(?) plants. There are also numerous scultures throughout, most memorably a herd of pigs made out of wood.
The other sde, the rainforest, is the show stopper however. As you walk the difference slaps you in the face, as the hot humid air flies at you. There are lots of native plant, and even a waterfall! (it impressed me atleast...).
The project is a brilliant idea, perfectly executed, with the best thing about it being the message it gives!
The premise of the Eden Project is that it began and continues to be utilised as an experiment. Built in a disused clay pit, which the majority of planners and developers would have considered waste ground, the experiment began to see whether this ground could be revitalised and turned into something special. They certainly achieved that with 9 million visitors since it first opened in 2001. The Eden Project uses the amazing facilities to experiment with new plants, educating other nations about building sustainable eco systems and developing more ethical methods of farming. The guide book states that it is an experiment in social change and communication, by going your eyes are opened and you become more aware, they want you to report these findings have your ideas provoked and potentially change a nation and so Dooyoo readers I am communicating my experience!
All a very bold and tall task and a place that cannot be missed if your in or going to Cornwall, in my review I hope to give you a taster of what it is like and some pointers to get the most out of your trip.
Located about 10 minutes off the A30 at and A391 near Bodmin (well sign posted)in the middle of nowhere. It took us 40 minutes to drive from where we stayed outside of Newquay and several bus companies offer return tickets and entry to the site as a package. There is ample car parking space with a free bus that picks you up and drops you off if like us you arrive at lunch time and the last car park is over a mile from the site and you don't fancy walking. Just remember to make a note of where you parked your car. Apparently you can walk and cycle and if you do you get a discounted entry (see below). Frankly due to the remoteness of the location I am not too sure they get many such people and the majority will have to arrive using their environment damaging vehicles....lets collectively lower our heads in shame!
**Cost and booking**
I checked online before we came away in the hope of obtaining a discount, looking back Im glad I didn't as the entry fee does get used for such incredible projects that will benefit generations to come and essentially would be like your cheating your future but if you are inclinedor an avid discount hunter there isn't any! The best I could get was 2000 nectar points gives one adult entry. If your planning ahead I would have used this offer but as we had only three days to go till our trip I knew they wouldn't be dispatched in time. For adults it is £16 each, for walkers/cyclists its £12 and for children its £5 and £8 for students. There is a minor £1 if you buy online. All in all it does have the potential to be a pricey day out. However... you day entry buys you annual membership so if you live in the area you can return again and again which is a fantastic idea!
**The first glimpse**
So you arrive on you bus and you walk under a canopy (the rain began at this point and didn't stop for a further 15 hours as we were in a tent I can tell you precisely when its stopped 4.19am as then was the only time I was able to get any sleep!) and I began to fear the worst as I knew that some if not the majority of the site was outside. However the canopy keeps you covered and you reach the huge ticketing area that is also combined with the shop. We paid and also bought a guide book for £5 which has been a great source of information. Then we stepped outside and nothing could prepare me for the site. I seem to remember forgetting it was raining and just being totally transfixed by what I saw. Yes I have seen the biomes o TV but they are huge, a splinter of sun had peeped out and a rainbow was cast over them. They lunge out of the clay cliffs like some kind of alien life form and are just so different to anything you'll ever see. An incredible feat of engineering and mesmerising to look, a work of modern art in my humble opinion. You are stood on a platform giving you a great view over the whole site with the biomes themselves taking up about half of the total area. As you would expect the array of plants below you is spectacular and we spotted a little train that was taking people under cover to the various areas. Obviously this was really popular and instead we opted to brave the weather and walk through the Zigzag path and head straight for the Rainforest Biome.
There are two with the larger being the rainforest biome. It could fit the tower of London inside it is so large and some of the trees are several hundred metres high, the 'sky monkeys' or professional abseilers if you prefer have the enviable task of pruning it all from the roof! The biome is an exploration around the world and countries that have this climate to examine the types of plants and resources we gain from there, the farming methods we use and how our habits are creating a negative and possibly unrecoverable effect on our environment. To begin with the exhibits are light hearted, there is a decent amount of information boards as you enter and the path is a one way system that is easy to follow. But my god! Be prepared because the rainforest biome is at rainforest temperature and rainforest humidity. At first it is decidedly pleasant and a different experience to the torrential and cold rain you can see bouncing of the biomes cushioned roof but after about ten minutes when not even GHD'd hair can stand up to the humidity it begins to feel oppressive and uncomfortable. There are several 'escape' routes throughout the course of the biome and a cool room at the top but I would suggest being prepared and wear layers so you can strip down and take lots of water. We were in there for an hour and a half during which time you can lose a lot of fluids!
There is a waterfall that runs from the top of the biome and brings water throughout the biome and the best bit for me was when the path takes you right up to (there is a lower path which is suggested for people with mobility difficulties as after the waterfall there is plenty of steps but again this is well signed) the waterfall and gives you a nice refreshing drenching! One the way out you come across features on rubber, bananas (there is a smoothie café selling banana and coconut iced smoothies for a £1, delicious!) sugar, coffee and soya and examining the damage it causes to our landscape. I found some of the stuff very poignant and hard hitting, for example they have a patch of excavated and damaged earth which amidst the abundance of plant life is quite a contrast and states that this is land after Soya harvesting, all backing up my personal commitment to eat less meat (earlier review).
The Mediterranean biome is a lot smaller and much more temperate. I didn't find this area as interesting but it was nice to see olive trees and tobacco plants as well as learning about flowers and scents. On that particular day the Czech national choir were singing and although we missed it they run events like that regularly which would really enhance your day. The Med biome also had some very lively inhabitants who seemed to have a habit of pooing very close to visitors as they flew overhead.
Thankfully we were able to wile away a good three hours in the domes and having lunch which meant a dry time for us!
The food here is special! Locally sourced if not grown in the biome, all organic, all low carbon footprint and the choices are fantastic. I was worried it would be extortionate but for a proper lunch with organic free range chicken, biome grown veg and a large plate of Cornish potatoes it would set you back £5.80 which I thought was super reasonable. I opted for a jacket potato with homemade coleslaw for £3.95 from the café. There is also a vegetarian and vegan café based in the The Core and a sit down Mediterranean restaurant next to the Mediterranean biome. A Cornish pasty shop serving up what can only be described as giant pasties and the tastiest looking chips I have ever laid eyes on. The main eating area is very communal and has a lovely bustling atmosphere to it with something to suit everyone.
I didn't spend to much time in the visitors centre as walking round really takes it out of you but there seemed to be children walking round the exhibits noting things down and stamping pages of a book they had picked up for free in the visitors centre. I thought this was a good way to engage them as generally speaking it could be a boring day for them wandering through a hot house so I thought making the adult attractions appeal was a great idea. My brief stint in The Core, which is the education hub seemed to offer lots of hands on attractions for them so I certainly think any child would enjoy themselves. Eden project also runs some amazing events through the summer holidays like den building and such an inspiring location would make a great different day out.
**The lasting legacy**
The following figures and facts I have sourced from the guidebook. The Eden Projects effects are far reaching not only because they have taken a useless piece of land and made it into a profitable attraction but because it inspires. The guidebook states that they host 10,000 students each year in their further education programmes looking at environmental principles, sustainable architecture and construction and much more. All your entry fees pays for this work and the charity work that they undertake abroad.
On a much more real tangible level the Eden project is exploring new avenues within its projects to see if by using other crops we can regenerate land damaged by over production and by letting you and me know the things we ca do to help such as making sure our products are sustainably grown. For me it is a must see for everyone.
Busy busy busy, we went on a Monday and not during the school holidays the place was heaving, admittedly it as torrential rain so practically every visitor was in the indoor areas but we were having to creep through the biomes behind slow and lingering groups of people who insisted on stopping to stare at every ant they came across (if you've been you'll be aware that the whole place is crawling with the critters, surely once you've seen one ant you've seen them all!) obviously the obligatory end of term school trips were out in force but I imagine over the summer there is never a quiet time to go so be prepared!
I must stress that the environmental message is not patronising or in your face you can skim through it all if you chose and just enjoy the plants and large abundant shop at the end of it if you wish! I definitely think the marketing lines about making you own Eden hold true. Over the summer the Eden Project also runs the Eden sessions which is basically gigs, Oasis were due to play a few days after we went and in such a location would have been incredible so another reason to pay a visit if I haven't convinced you already.
Thanks for reading
© Berrydelight 2009 permission must be granted by author for any use other than Dooyoo
The Eden Project is a global garden located in St Austell, Cornwall. It was established as one of the Landmark Millennium Projects to mark the year 2000 and has been opened since 2001.
I think the main aim and focus of The Eden Project is to develop an area that focuses on sustainability, creating gardens that can teach and educate and to learn new ways of doing things. In that way it's so much more than just a garden, it's a project or as they say, "a living theatre of plants and people."
The garden have been built in an old clay pit which shows that degraded environments can be fixed. The site really is huge and you do need quite a few hours to walk around it and see it properly. The clay pit is the area of 35 football pitches and needed over 83,000 tons of soil to fill it which was all made from recycled waste.
The Eden Project describe themselves as this:
"If you believe there should be a place that explores what a great future might look like, that celebrates life and puts champagne in the veins, that's all about education with mud between your toes, to hold conversation that might just go somewhere, where research is experience to be shared with everyone, for all those who think the future belongs to us all, then welcome to the Eden Project...home of the Eden Trust. That's why we built this place and that's where the money goes."
When you have parked your car you are taken by shuttle bus to the admissions hall. An adults entrance ticket costs £15 and a childs ticket costs £5. When we paid our admission we had the option to donate it to gift aid which we did which also gave us a free years pass. As I don't live anywhere near Cornwall this is no good for me but it's definitely good for local residents. The entrance hall is quite big and has a few exhibitions in it. It was quite busy and took us a few minutes to get into the entrance and I can imagine it's like this everyday. Once you have paid you then go outside and can walk around the area. The gardens all roll into one another so it's like wandering around a huge garden. Outside there are alotment areas growing all types of foods and plants, an orchard, a beer and brewing section and there are also lots of interesting statues to look at.
Probably the most interesting parts of the Eden Project are the Biomes, big huge domes which have a different climate temperature inside to show you how plants grown in different parts of the world. One of the biomes is the Mediterranean Biome which has a mediterranean climate (warm temperature, hot dry summers, and cool, wet winters, generally located 30-40 degrees N or S latitude on the western sides of the continent, for example California. Inside you can see Olives growing, tobacco, and all the type of plants and greens you associate with this area.
The second biome is the Rainforest Biome. It was extremely hot in here as it has a very humid feel to it, the average temperature is 25 degrees c all year round but has over 90% humidity. I found this biome very interesting but it was very tiring walking around as it is so hot. They do have a slightly shorter trail you can take around this biome if you can't stand the heat! In here you will find information about cola, chewing gum, rubber, bananas, etc. I found this the most interesting biome.
There is a large seating area which is outside but under cover so you can sit out and have a picnic if you want. There are not really any other places to sit around the gardens which I thought was a shame because I thought it would have been good if you could sit in various places and have a picnic. They also have a large cafeteria where you can buy various different types of foods to really suit everyone. There are pasties, sandwiches, hot food and cold food all quite reasonably priced. They also have a large gift shop which sells everything and anything, gifts, crafts, clothes, plants etc.
In closing I found the Eden Project a really interesting day out and well worth a visit for the whole family.
One of the most successful Millenium projects in the country, The Eden Project is an attraction not to be missed if you are looking for a way of helping the environment while at the same time having a good time. You can even cycle there if you really want to show your green credentials.
If you don't fancy that, go by car, train or bus. Be prepared for a good long walk from the car parks to the Domes (Biomes). But take in the sights of the fantastic landscaping at every turn as you walk.
When you get to the Domes, pace yourself. It gets mighty hot in there and its not all on the level, you can easily dehydrate. You will learn about the things you use everyday (chewing gum, rubber and chocolate) and some of the surprising plants and places they come from. The kids will love it, and they will learn things that will impress their teachers at school.
When you flake out, get something nice from one of the cafes -try some cornish ice-cream. Visit the shop for some very strange but nice gift ideas
This day out is good value at £16 per adult, £5 per child or £38 per family, especially when you explore some of the concessionary tickets on the website.
Everyone should visit at least once, you'll go back again and again. Your kids will make you!
Having now visited the Eden Project twice I thought I would write a review. We first visited 6 years ago and then again two weeks ago.
You approach the Eden Project from quite high up and follow the road down to the first car park that has spaces. Parking is free as is the bus that runs regulary between the car parks and the main visitor centre. The furthest car park is about 1km away from the centre and it is quite easy to walk it as it is all downhill - coming back is a different matter and the bus is a must. as the Project is build in a disused China Clay Pit it is steep!
On arrival at the visitor centre, you pass the outside of the shop which is very long, and have lots of things to read if you want tobefore you arrive at the visitor entrance. To the left hand side is a desk for pre-booked groups and people paying with vouchers (unfortunatley Tesco Deals is not accepted here!). To the right are door ways into 10 (I think I counted correctly) ticket desks. We went on Bank Holiday Monday and only had one person in front of us waiting to pay - it does help to walk right down the room as there were big queues at the first few desks and hardly anyone further down - so needless to say we were paid and in before the people that came through the doors before us.
The ticket clerks - for want of a better description were efficient and polite and didn;t press the point of Gift Aiding our entrance donation - which we did and got free passes for the year !. You are given a sticker (I think they use a different colour each day) to wear to show you should be there.
Before you actually go outside take a moment to look at the displays in this room - well actually it is more like an upmarket hanger! There is also a coffee shop if you need sustenance before embarking on your trip around the flora and fauna of the world.
At this point you are still only half way down the old china clay pit and so the view from the platform as you exit the entrance shows you the whole layout of the project. Now your descent begins!
You can follow one of several paths or take the land train. We opted to walk and took the most circuitous (I think that is a word!) route possible. It did mean that we saw all their was on show - including an area that was given over to Cornwall - Hedges and borders, farming and agriculture were all given space. Their is a lot about sustainable farming and using alternative forms of commodities such as rubber for tyres. A display on mining also was interesting.
There is a fantastic allotment display comparing an English Allotment with things grown abroad - we were pleased to note that our vegetable garden was on a par growth wise with the Eden project's.
Scattered through the gardens adn walks are sculptures adn models, some made from recycled materials, some not. One of the most interesting was WEEE Man outside the Education Centre. It was made entirely of old electrical equipment, representing the amount of stuff that is dispoed on by one person in their lifetime.
Now to the BioDomes - there are two Domes - one Tropical and one Temperate and they are connected by a huge area that house the resturants, loo's etc.
The Tropical Dome is very humid and it is advisable to make sure you have a bottle of water to sip at with you, although there are water fountains dotted around. This is the only part of the Project that has an area that is not accessible to wheelchair users as part of it is quite steep and there are 65 steps to descend. All around the Dome, everything is well signed with interesting facts about each area. The Cocoa area is espically interesting although no free chocolate I'm afraid. A lot of people tended to be walking stright though and were making the normal touristy comments without actaully reading anything at all. There were also lots of comments about the heat - duh - its a tropical dome!
The Temperate Dome is obviously entirely different, but is just as interesting. There are Mediterannean, Calafornian, African Areas to name but a few and the Dome does not seem so over whelmed with planting - possible because the plants are obviously not so large!. There is an interesting area about Olive Groves and it is interesting to see the citrus fruits - i didn;t actaully realise that there is a fruit called a citronella - it is about 20 times the sixe of a normal lemon !
Now to the resturant -- It is light and airy, with an outside seating area and is split into two parts. One half is given over to foods using locally grown and sourced foods and the other sells pizza, pasties and pasta all with chips!
We opted for the locally grown food and had wonderful jacket potatoes with various fillings and home grown salads. Most of the hot drinks are Fair Trade and are no dearer than ordinary teas, coffees and choclate elsewhere. There is also a good selection of cold drinks on offer.
The toilets were clean and plentiful and no queuing when we were there.
Back outside their are a number of activites for younger children, as well as a wood carving display - these change weekly or monthly depending on the season. We didn't spend much time in this area this time, although the pavement art outside was a hit with our 17yr old, although a lack of chalk was an obstacle!
There is an outside theatre area, which was been used to skateboarding displays and street dancing displays when we were there. In the summer it is used as a concert venue as well and in the winter - ice skating.
Since we visited 6 years ago there is now a new eduaction centre which was really interesting. There is a display of paintings by the artist in residence charting the course of the evolution of the project and whilst these are for sale they range from about £1,000 up to £22,000. They are really good though !
One wasl is entirely made of old fridge doors and you can make your own magentic poetry to go on them, although there was a shortage of A's the day we were there.
By the time you have been through all of this there is only the flower garden left which is wonderful and it is then either a long windy walk, road train or walk up the stpes to get back to the Visitor centre and the Buses.
We took the steps and crossed the bridge which gave another stunning view of the area.
You have no option but to go through the shop on the way out and this was the only bug bear, as the checkouts are not plentiful and the queues were long!
All in all a good day out.
Costs - £16 adults, £5 children under 18 (thats a first !!)