When we holidayed in Cornwall last month with family, the one place that we simply had to visit was The Eden Project. As it had been two years since our last visit, we were keen to explore any changes that might have been made, as well as exploring the different flora in late Winter as opposed to the peak of Summer.
We weren't disappointed.
The Eden Project is a wonderful example of various different climates from around the world with three main regions explored; the two iconic biomes house rainforest and Mediterranean climates, while the outside area showcases the horticulture and crops which are indicative of Britain and northern Europe. As the whole project utilises an old quarry, it never fails to amaze me the work that has been done to transform the once scarred landscape into one of the most beautiful and impressive man-made attractions in Britain.
The pathway that meanders down to the main biomes leads visitors through various different aspects of British horticulture and history. Meadowlands lead through the background to mining in the Cornish area, exploring seasonal vegetables which grow in allotments, with an abundance of educational resources and interactive displays. The Boy really enjoyed exploring the musical areas which are scattered throughout, along with the educational play areas. I found it fascinating about the biodiversity in Cornwall, along with the sculptures which are created from reclaimed resources.
For me the jewel in the crown of The Eden Project is the Rainforest Biome. It is a world away from the agriculture with which we're familiar with, and it's fascinating to see where the food which makes up so much of our diets in the 21st Century comes from.
One of the best features that has been added since we last visited is the 'cool room'; basically a giant walk-in refrigerator. The atmosphere in the Rainforest Biome can become quite oppressive due to the humidity and temperature, it's wonderful to have a room to recoup and drink the fresh water from the water fountain there.
The latest addition to the Rainforest Biome is the construction of the aerial walkway, which extends a path over part of the rainforest undergrowth and lower canopies, allowing visitors to see the view across the treetops. However, the biggest and most impressive part of this development is the Rainforest Lookout Canopy.
Visitors could be forgiven for missing the platform which commands vistas over the entire biome, as the pentagon is suspended from the ceiling and merges in with the hexagons and pentagons that make up the entire skin of the biome. But once it's been spotted, it's very difficult to take your eyes away from the feat of engineering. Of course the gauntlet was laid down by my sister-in-law to venture up there, and the challenge was accepted.
I won't lie; it was a bit scary heading up the steps (which do sway slightly), but once up on the main lookout platform, the view all around was astounding. The Boy and his cousin couldn't stop pointing things out, and looking for treasures. It was amazing to see the waterfall from the very top, and to see the very utmost reaches of the rainforest canopy.
There are medical conditions that need to be met before being allowed to go up onto the platform, and the temperature is a lot hotter than below, it was 33°C in the middle of February. My brother suffers from high blood pressure and so had to read further requirements and agree to the conditions before he could continue.
The walk after leaving the Lookout Canopy takes visitors through the banana and tropical fruit plantations, and we stopped to discuss how different spices were produced with one of the many guides working in the Project. All are very helpful and happy to allow children to be hands-on.
After leaving the Rainforest Biome, there is an air-conditioned central area leading to the Mediterranean Biome. This central area also features the cafe on the lower level. All food is prepared freshly on site, using local produce where possible.
The Mediterranean Biome
This is an area of The Eden Project which I always feel is short-changed by the visitors, mainly due to tiredness after the Rainforest Biome. It's not as cram-packed with different crops or learning opportunities as its neighbour, nor is it as busy, however it is a tranquil and interesting area to explore.
When we were there, there was a wonderful storyteller on site who sat down in a large courtyard with several families and told a traditional Mediterranean tale. The Boy and his cousin sat enthralled, and it was lovely to see her using props from the surrounding environment to help tell the tale.
The Eden Project is one of those attractions in Britain which must surely be a national treasure? For a tourist attraction to have revitalised the site so beautifully, ignited tourism back into the area, to demonstrate the flora of the world so magnificently, and to explain how we can help protect it, is surely something which needs to be visited and admired? It's also incredibly fun, and there's not an electronic device or display in site! A full day is needed to fit everything in, and even then it would be difficult.
Tickets into The Eden Project are priced at £23.50 for adults and £13.50 for children aged 5-16 years, children aged 0-4 years are free. 15% off these prices are available if buying online in advance, or there are plenty of deals available from Superbreak for short break stays in Cornwall with entry tickets included in the price.
I received entry tickets into The Eden Project from Superbreak in order to review the attraction, my opinion is honest and unbiased.