Funny that the Cornwall of my childhood was a paradise of hot beach-day summers while the grown-up realisation is that Cornwall is visited for its outdoor lifestyle and activities rather than the often damp, windswept weather. Not the weather to inspire a family garden visit. And yet…with a name like Tanglewood Wild Garden how could we resist? Outdoor time and nature connection is important whatever the weather.
Last week we were in Cornwall on our annual ‘Grand Tour of the South,’ catching up with friends and family from Exmouth to Penzance. It seems the further north I move, the further south my people migrate. Nothing personal I hope!
It makes me appreciate my Midlands upbringing though, when it felt like the whole UK could be reached within 3 hours. Due to traffic this road trip took a total of 13 hours from Northumberland to North Cornwall… thank goodness for Wild Grandma and Gump to stop over with en route!
A damp midsummer Sunday (when the rest of the country could still be enjoying the heatwave for all I knew) saw us hemmed indoors due to the seemingly ubiquitous Newlyn ‘murk’ (it’s a thing), after a week’s fun camping near Treyarnon and then Perranporth with my best friend and her family plus my fun-loving and ever-tolerant #nokids sibs!
This particular morning, after a well-deserved lie-in (the previous day’s pony trek with Caroline had reawakened and destroyed my gloots and thighs in one fell swoop..!) I awoke dreaming of a chill-out day, now to be coined a ‘dreckly day’ since dreckly has something of a ‘manana’-ish tone to it this neck of the woods!
Snuggly armchairs in a cosy, dog-friendly Cornish cafe watching the sea through mist-wet, salt stained windows…
Penzance’s Jubilee Pool cafe isn’t quite that, though the windows were wet and it is dog friendly. And actually the hard-looking white plastic tub chairs were surprisingly and comment-worthily (is that a word?) comfortable. Delicious food and a tantalising selection of tray-bakes meant we were there for a couple of hours and ate food for about 6! It was very grey outside though.
A hot chocolate and sunshine-buttered Saffron cake took me back to a not-so-murky family day out during a previous Grand Tour in 2016…
…when the sun was shining!
Knowing my love of gardens and nature, Gran Mary (my Newlyn-born mother-in-law and aunt to a well-known Olympian), took us to visit Tanglewood Wild Gardens near St Just. What a wonderfully evocative name for a garden.
Tanglewood sort of appears from nowhere, and feels like you’re going nowhere as you turn in off the A3071.
Parking is amongst trees and it’s a steep, rooty walk through whispering woodland down to the main garden area, unsuitable for wheelchairs but probably okay with a small pram or buggy if you can carry it down with a babe in arms. There is mischief at large in the woods though…
Once down the woody hill (if you’ve not been waylaid by mini-axe wielding Cornish Piskies), payment is via an honesty box in a quirky old caravan (though I believe you now pay to enter – cash only). It’s well worth the £5 fee.
Order in the Wilderness
Tanglewood is cleverly laid out to give the impression it is designed by nature when in fact years of hard labour have gone into it’s creation. Acres of clearing, planting and lake digging have produced a tranquil wilderness where you can completely disconnect from the real world.
As well as being a haven for all sorts of wildlife, you might just spot unicorns, spiders, dwarves and giants, art, poetry and even the dead. You’ve been warned.
It is an idea place for picnicking and you could easily spend the day relaxing, moving from spot to spot as the moment takes you. There wasn’t another soul is sight when we visited.
Caroline was 6 years old then and needed entertainment so we ambled for a couple of hours immersed in nature, discovering many quirky and intriguing objects. I don’t really want to say much more as it is quite a place of wonder and discovery that is better experienced first hand. Here are a few photos of our enchanted exploration.
The added extras at Tanglewood are charming and from their website it looks as though there are more than when we visited – but don’t check online, go and find out for yourself.
Tanglewood Visitor Information
As of 2018 the garden is open 10 am to dusk from Good Friday to Halloween.
Dogs are allowed on leads and there is a composting toilet.
Disposable barbecues are allowed.
Children £2.00, under 5’s free
OAP’s concession £3.00 (Wednesdays only)
Season tickets – single £25.00, family (2 adults 2 children) £45.00
For more information visit Tanglewood online
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Wild wishes on your gardening gallivants!