Fieldnotes: The Eden Project

Thursday, 9 February 2017


Welcome to a new segment for The Freckled Fieldnotes! Last month, I made a promise to myself that 2017 would be the year I stepped out of my comfort zone and began exploring my surroundings here in the South West. So this is hopefully the first of many adventures and field trips to come, where I'll be making some 'Fieldnotes' of my explorations in and around Devon and Cornwall and writing them up here, on my blog, to share with you!

+ as it's now February, and thoughts are turning to all things Spring-y and green, what better place to start my travels than with a trip to an old favourite of mine, The Eden Project.


The Eden Project, located near St Austell in Cornwall, was built in 2001 as a place for people to explore the relationship between nature and mankind. It prides itself on championing ethical and sustainable ways of living for the future, whilst simultaneously offering visitors a fascinating glimpse into the history of our ever-changing environment.  

I've visited The Eden Project a couple of times before- once with my family when I was about nine or ten, and then again for an art trip when I was in Secondary school. I remember finding it somewhat boring when I was younger (and getting very hot and grumpy in the Biomes!) but I also remember being pleasantly surprised and considerably inspired when I returned a few years later with my art class. So, returning as an adult (gah) with a burgeoning interest in nature and the environment, I was really excited to revisit Eden and see what they had to offer from a grown-up perspective.      

Some basic information to start off with...

Opening Times: At this time of year, Eden is open daily from 10am til 4pm. If you fancy a visit yourself, be sure to double check the timings, as Eden is often open for longer in the Summer months.    

Tickets: For adults it's £25, students get in for £20 + for children aged 5-16 it's £14. If you buy your tickets online, you get a further 10% off and locals (ie. anyone living in Devon or Cornwall) can grab a £15 'Local's Pass' that entitles them to free entry all year round.


The Eden Project is a remarkably dog-friendly place, considering how busy the attraction can get. Dogs go free and whilst you can't bring your pup into either of the Biomes (the big domes), you can give them a good stroll around all the outdoor paths and there's even a dedicated undercover doggy dining area outside the 'Eden Bakery'. We spotted plenty of water bowls placed sporadically around the site and there are, of course, lots of dog bins available for cleaning up after your pup! 

There's also the option to leave your dog in one of the 'Shaded Parking Shelters' if you want to continue on a slow stroll around the site, sans four-legged accompaniment. These shelters are designed to keep your car out of the sun and your dog out of the heat, and some even have a water tap for your pup to drink from. 

You're never too far away from a café or restaurant at The Eden Project- which is great because where there's a café, there's always a loo! The two Biomes are linked by a large restaurant area equipped with all the usual facilities (toilets, disabled toilets, baby changing etc.) as well as a supervised coat rack area- incredibly handy and highly recommended, as you will sweat your butt off in that Rainforest Biome! 

There's also a Baobab Smoothie Bar in the Rainforest Biome and a Med Terrace Kitchen in the Mediterranean Biome- if you fancy something a little more exotic that your usual Mocha!

I also noted that there were unisex toilets in the 'Core' building, as well as unisex baby changing facilities across the site.      
        


Parking is totally free at The Eden Project. From the car parks, you can either walk down the winding path to the visitor's entrance or catch a free park and ride bus. Campervans and Motorhomes are also welcome to park here.

Plus, if you're super cool + eco and own an electric vehicle, there are three charging points available (two are free to use, one is 'Superfast' and requires a payment) in the Banana and Melon car parks.


On to my trip...



We were so incredibly lucky with the weather when we visited. It wasn't actually raining for once (were we still in Cornwall?!) and the bright blue sky really made a fabulous backdrop for those funny-looking bubble domes.

Our initial reason for popping down to The Eden Project was to pick up our Locals' Passes for the year but, as it wasn't raining and the site was fairly quiet, we decided to venture down and have a good nose around whilst we were at it. 

One thing I would say here- as you wind your way down onto the site from the Visitor's Entrance, everyone wants to stop and take pictures of the Biomes in front of them. This is, of course, perfectly normal tourist-y behaviour but it can be quite frustrating if you're just trying to make your way down the path. If you can avoid it, don't stop and get caught up with the snappers blocking the path because, I assure you, there are quieter areas to take much better photos of the site without getting in other people's way.


'The Rising Tide' sculptures by Jason deCaires Taylor, exploring attitudes to climate change. 


The entrance to the Biomes was quite easy to find, but one thing I did notice is that you often feel as though you're being herded through multiple restaurants before you even get a chance to explore what you came to see. As we happened to be in desperate need of a cuppa anyway, this tactful way of guiding us into the main attraction via the promise of coffee and cake seemed fairly harmless- but I can't help but think if you'd already coughed up the £25 ticket fee for most of your family (just to get in), this might seem a tad cheeky.

Just a thought. We'll probably pack a thermos next time!


Anyway, a cup of tea and a quick trip to the loo later, we found ourselves in the first of the two Biomes- The Mediterranean Biome. This is where I remember sitting and sketching various flora and fauna on my art trip all those years ago (!) and I was glad to see that, even in early February, they still had beds and beds of gorgeous-smelling Spring flowers to view.    



I must admit, despite the initial excitement of all the sights and smells, I was a bit underwhelmed by the Mediterranean Biome. I think we just caught it at the wrong time of year, when everything felt a bit unloved. Nevertheless, it was good fun to spot all the different types of citrus trees along the route and I certainly enjoyed feeling like I was on holiday in the Mediterranean for a little bit!


Next on the agenda was the Rainforest Biome. Now this was more like it! 




It was simply stunning.

Unfortunately we didn't get to do the Canopy Walk (the very helpful guide told us he had to close it off as temperatures had reached over 40 degrees up there!) but that's an activity that's definitely on my list for the next time we visit. Apparently there's a new 'weather' section to the walkway opening in March that sounds incredible, so that's one to look out for!




Pro tip- it's incredibly warm in this Biome (temperatures can reach up to 35 degrees) so come prepared with a bottle of water and make sure you've whacked on some deo because you will be sweating by the time you get out!


I loved the attention to detail in the Rainforest- you can learn about everything from how bamboo is used to build houses across the world to why the laborious process used to produce cashew nuts makes them so expensive to buy.


When we visited, the Rainforest's resident Roul Roul Partridges had been quite busy, and we were told to be careful not to upset them or their new baby chicks! We spied a few running across the path but, unfortunately, I wasn't quick enough with the camera! All I can say is that they were incredibly sweet and that they had fabulous hair.


The Rainforest Biome was by far my favourite area in Eden, simply because it made me feel like an intrepid explorer trekking through the jungle! There was definitely far more going on in this area and I would have liked to spend more time wandering about- if I hadn't have got so thirsty!


Our last stop on the list was a bit out of the way, up in the surrounding hillside of the site. I was really excited to check this area out, as it was all about a subject close to my heart- wild Cornwall!




They've certainly kept it wild here. Perhaps, in places, it's a little too wild and could use a touch of TLC (abandoned educational play robot machine thing, I'm looking at you) but you can't beat a wild meadow and I'm sure, in Summer months, this place is an absolute dream.

Pro tip- up here, out of the way, is the best place to take pictures away from the crowds.


My Journal...

It was incredibly tricky to stop and sketch whilst in the Biomes (the paths are quite narrow and it always feels like there's someone behind you, getting impatient!), so I simply snapped a few Instax pictures for my journal instead. I'd certainly love to go back soon, perhaps a bit earlier in the day, to find a bench and sketch for a bit.

*I need to find a better way of scanning in my journal- any tips would be welcome!





On our way out...



Where would a tourist attraction be without a shop? Thankfully, this one's quite sweet and sells everything from handmade bee brooches to little pots of gourmet Cornish seaweed.  


I was quite tempted by these tea plants on my way out! They would make a very sweet gift for any avid tea drinker.

And that was it for the day! I think, overall, I really enjoyed our little trip out to The Eden Project. I will say that, if I'd have paid £25 for my ticket (especially at this time of year when everything's out of season) I would have been really disappointed as not much seems to have changed in the ten-or-so years since my last visit. I think what it needs now is some fresh thinking and a little updating to bring it in to 2017- I did get an overwhelming sense that the world around Eden has changed quite drastically since its grand opening in 2001, and it hasn't really had the chance to catch up yet...     

A round-up of my top tips for visiting The Eden Project...




* Ooh and don't buy the Visitor's Guide that they 'highly recommend' at the entrance- it's £6 (!) and you'll only use it for the map, which can be found all over the site.   

I hope you've enjoyed this post- I've certainly got plans to return to The Eden Project soon (and maybe vlog next time?) as I can't wait to see what they have in store for the Spring and Summer months. If you'd like to check out what supplies I take on trips like these, have a look at my previous post.

Have you ever visited The Eden Project? I'd love to hear your memories in the comments below!

In the meantime,
All the love,

Siân x

4 comments

  1. What beautiful photos! I've never been to the Eden Project, I've always wanted to go though. I've been to Cornwall so many times yet I've never been to the Eden Project! It looks so beautiful and I can't imagine how lovely it's going to look in the Spring and Summer. Lovely post, I hope to visit there soon! :)

    Kayleigh | anenthusiasmfor.blogspot.co.uk

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  2. Thank you so much Kayleigh! It's definitely one to visit next time you come to Cornwall :) x

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  3. So many beautiful pictures! I visited a couple of years ago it's so lovely, I need to revisit sometime and just Cornwall in general!

    www.jessicablu.com

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    Replies
    1. Thanks Jessica! You definitely need to revisit :) x

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