June 07, 2021
Thanks to the algorithm of Facebook, I received a post several weeks ago in my feed from The Eden Project. It was about getting a locals pass for only £40 for the family. So I took a look and ended up signing up and booking for our first visit during the school half term holiday.
I always presumed Eden was an expensive place to visit, but I'm not sure if they have come down in price, or I've got more flash with my cash. Which ever it is, a locals ticket (you have to have a Cornwall or Devon postcode) costs £40 for 2 adults and 2 children and it gives you access for a year. You do have to sign up for a direct debit though - it costs £50 without the DD. You can click here to find more information about tickets and passes.
Eden is one of our first "big days out" this year. We have chosen to avoid many indoor places, but as numbers were being limited, and arrival times scheduled, we decided to go for it. Plus we chose to visit on the last Sunday of the half term holidays, which is always a lot quieter than other days.
We had to wear masks indoors (adults, not children) and sanitise our hands at every entrance and exit point. We didn't need to wear masks in the outdoor areas and people (mainly) kept their distance from each other.
To drive to Eden from St Ives takes about an hour and 10mins. As your only real option is to go down the A30 I'd always advise to avoid the busy times such as Friday and Saturday mornings which are big change over days for holiday accomodation. As it was, on Sunday morning the roads were clear and it was a nice and easy drive.
We usually take a picnic lunch with us in a back pack. The food on offer at Eden looks delicious, but it would really put up the price of the visit for us. We take water bottles as there are plenty of places to refill them, and we also take snacks and coffee. We usually stop for nice drinks and ice cream at some point during the visit.
Clothing wise, my advice would be to wear trainers or something comfy on your feet as you will be doing a lot of walking. Also, wear layers (and probably not jeans) as it is really hot and humid in the biomes. Jeans end up getting really heavy and sticking to your legs. We usually take lightweight macs too in case it rains - it would be a shame to miss out of the outdoor side of things.
There are plenty of tables and chairs to sit and picnic at, so you don't need to take a rug or chairs. At the moment you can eat in a huge indoor picnic area they have set up by the stage. We didn't use it but we would have done if it had rained.
You need to take a card for payment at the moment (rather than cash).
We have visited Eden quite a few times over the years, but we always seem to spend about 5 or 6 hours there. We could stay longer as we never manage to do everything, but having young children and older legs, 6 hours is about our limit. We seem to be able to fit in either 2 Biomes, or 1 Biome plus the Core education centre. Our visit always includes lunch, sit down snacks, a play in the park and a big browse round the shop at the end.
The Outside Garden. There is a lovely zigzag walk down through the gardens to the main stage and biomes. This is a lovely walk to do and pre-covid you could catch a little tractor train. The outside gardens are stunning and include a veg and herb garden.
The Rainforest Biome. This is where we usually spend most of our time. It is a hot, humid and wonderful place with amazing plants, little buildings, lots of educational things, waterfalls, a very high wobbly rainforest canopy brige to cross and some very cute little birds running around the place.
The Mediterranean Biome. This is a much gentler place to visit and, when you haven't got a mask on, it smells of Greece, with all the warmth and herbs! When we visited this time, there were musicians playing - how fabulous to listen to live music again! There is a cafe that serves impressive gins (other drinks and food are available).
The Core. We haven't been in here for a while, but there are usually lots of educational things to see and learn about.
The Giant Bee. I think this is my favourite part of the outside garden. The wild bee planting inspires us to improve our garden every time.
Eve. If you take the zigzag walk down (rather than the speedy way) you will find a beautiful sculpture of Eve. She is made mostly of clay, with a face of mud and mirrors and hair of plants. She was made by the same people who made the sleeping mermaid and a giant’s head at the Lost Gardens of Heligan.
The Play Park. In the outside garden there is a superb little play park. It's kind of hidden away but my children always find it. There is also a little water garden nearby with interesting rills to dabble in.
The Stage. This area is where the bands play for the Eden sessions. In pre-covid times, the building was used for some amazing exhibitions - we loved the space one and the dinosaur one! At the moment it is a huge indoor picnic area with a cafe. There are lots of chairs and tables outside too. We love the colourful flags that line the stage, and my children love doing roly polys down the grassy bank.
Food & Drink. There are lots of places to buy food and drink. The main part is indoors by the entrance to the biomes, but there are other kiosks too, including the delicious Eden ice cream stall. You can bring all your own food and drink in with you though, so don't feel you need to spend loads!
Dog Friendly. The whole of the outside garden is dog friendly, but assistance dogs are only allowed in the biomes. There were loads of dogs when we visited this time.
Hangloose Zip Wire. Every so often you will hear shrieks of glee (or terror?) as 2 more people fly over the top of the biomes on the zip wire. Apparently it is England's longest and fastest zip wire. They also have other high adrenaline things like a massive swing, a giant airbag and the drop. I have not done any of these things!
The Gift Shop. We love the Eden shop. The plants that they sell are such good quality and either a similar price or cheaper to buy than our local garden center. This time be bought a very fine Lupin in a hairy pot (£5.50) and a Pineapple Sage which we had seen growing in the Eden herb garden (£2.75). It really does smell of pineapple! The shop sells lots of things that lure the children in, plus lovely food and homewares. We could quite easily spend a lot of money in there!
Parking is really efficient at Eden. They direct you to the nearest car park with spaces and so you don't have to hunt for spaces. Pre-covid they did have a bus from the further away car parks. I think that due to limiting the numbers, they aren't running this and are parking everyone quite close by. We arrived at 11am and were parked in Lime 2 which was a 5 min walk to the entrance. Parking is included in the cost of your ticket.
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