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Tuesday, 22 April 2014

Lanhydrock and Carnglaze Caverns

Lanhydrock is a massive estate and includes a grand house, formal gardens, less formal gardens and miles of parkland. It is a popular place to cycle round and, indeed, you can even rent bikes when you get there, which is probably your only hope of seeing more than a small fraction of the site.

We have been to Lanhydrock several times now but not by intention - we just forget that we've been there before and it is conveniently placed as somewhere to go when in the Bodmin area. It's not that the house and gardens are forgettable, just that we don't link our memories to the name or the description in the National Park handbook. Once we are there, of course, we realise but it is worth having another look so we stay.

This year, they have changed the location of the entrance road so that it follows the road that visitors would have historically taken to the house. At the new car park they have built a snazzy toilet block, cafe and adventure playground, and it is also here that you can hire bikes if you want. If not, then you can walk or take the electric mini bus down the hill to the house. In through the gate house and you enter the formal garden in which the grand house sits.

The house is well worth a walk around. There are many rooms and they are beautifully staged to give an impression of a moment in the history of the house. There are elaborate, well equipped kitchens and ornate bedrooms, storage rooms and the impressive gallery.

Having toured the house, we stopped for refreshments around the corner in the old stables before exploring the formal gardens. Behind the house, the garden benefits from the spring beauty of camellias, magnolias and rhododendrons. The thatched cottage is beautiful from the outside but an empty shell inside, mores the pity. 

At the front of the house are formally laid out and manicured gardens: well mown lawns and trimmed hedges with parterre gardens inside and topiary hedges. This is not particularly to my taste but there is no doubt it is beautiful and a triumph of meticulous gardening.  

As an aside, it is worth mentioning that before our visit to Lanhydrock we stopped off at Carnglaze Caverns, just down the road. This is an ex-slate mine and you can go inside to visit the caverns. At the bottom of the steps there is a spectacular underground lake. Lovely but a bit limited. You walk in, go down the steps, see the lake and... you're done. 

However, outside they have a woodland walk so we decided to go on this with our picnic to see if we could find a nice spot for lunch. Unexpectedly, all over the garden and along the walk are fairy ornaments and even a little fairy village. My girls absolutely loved this and as a result this short visit was a highlight of their holiday. By this point they had been round The Eden Project, The Lost Gardens of Heligan and several of the Great Gardens of Cornwall and seen some truly amazing scenery and spectacular planting but despite all this, a wander through a woodland with fairies was their favourite garden of all. Worth bearing in mind!

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