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Trebah Gardens

This beautiful ravine garden leads to a small, secluded beach on the Helford River and, in addition to being a leafy sub-tropical paradise, is quite possibly the most child-friendly of Cornwall’s gardens.

Nature trails and quiz sheets are available for various age groups, while Tarzan’s Camp provides arboreal adventure thrills for the over-fives, with climbing nets, rope swings and a zip wire tucked away in a shady grove of fir trees. Another play area, Fort Stuart, provides a gentler play option for toddlers.

Even without these extras, however, Trebah is virgin jungle for mini-Tarzans and Janes. Side paths lure you from the main beach track to ponds, streams, and shady tunnels beneath tree ferns. Kids can tiptoe through a Brazilian swamp beneath a canopy of giant gunnera leaves, which block out the sky with their 2-m-wide leaves, or probe a mysterious bamboo maze known as the Bamboozle. At the height of summer, Hydrangea Valley is like something out of Willy Wonka’s chocolate factory with blue and pink flower balls scattered everywhere, like an explosion of strawberry and blueberry bonbons – all reflected in Mallard Pond where huge rainbow trout cruise the shallows. Another diversion leads to Koi Pool, a hidden retreat with more whopping great fish and a waterfall.

There are maps to guide you around the garden, but it’s more fun following your instincts and seeing where they lead you. A dead-end? A hidden pool? A mossy monster lurking in Dinky’s Puddle? Eventually, though, you will reach Polgwidden Cove, an estuary beach of skimming-stone-shingle with a small café selling drinks and ice creams. It’s a fine spot for a picnic, gazing out to sea where cargo ships are often moored, waiting to enter Falmouth harbour.

It was all a very different place on 1 June 1944, when 7500 American troops embarked here for the D-
Day landings at Omaha Beach in Normandy. Trebah now exudes peace and tranquillity. Take your
time exploring its hidden secrets, but don’t leave it too late to visit the superb Planters Café and gift shop.

Mawnan Smith, TR11 5JZ, T01326-252200
Open daily from 1000. £7.50 adult, £2.50 child (5-15). Arrive by bus (from Falmouth or Helston) for half-price admission. Free entry during winter for National Trust and RHS members

Click here to visit the official website of Trebah Gardens.