After exploring Portloe, Andy and I headed for our scheduled entry time at Eden Project. Closing in on our destination, we drove past seemingly endless parking lots, finally arriving at one that was being used. They obviously have a huge capacity for visitors, and since we went on a weekday it wasn’t as packed. Once parked, we did still have to walk about 10 minutes to get to the entrance, though.
After passing through the visitor center, we were greeted with an impressive view.
On the site of a reclaimed clay pit, Eden Project first opened to the public in 2000. Since then, it has grown and continues to expand. Dominated by two biomes, Rainforest and Mediterranean, the grounds also have extensive walking paths, gardens, cafes and a zip wire, among other attractions.
The great part is once you purchase admission, this gives you free entry for an entire year. There were lots of people with dogs there, taking advantage of the grounds, although they aren’t allowed inside the biomes.
Our first stop was the Invisible Worlds exhibition. It features Infinity Blue, a “breathing” sculpture paying homage to cyanobacteria.
There’s also Seed, a giant carving made out of solid granite. Weighing 70 tons, it stands 4 meters (13 feet) tall.
We wandered through exhibits on microbes and the human microbiome which were pretty interesting and informative.
After lunch, which of course consisted of Cornish pasties, we headed for the largest biome first, Rainforest.
It’s hard to grasp the scale of it until you’re inside. There’s over 1,000 varieties of plants, and something to see everywhere you look.
Andy was in heaven and found more than a few dream garden plants.
We wound our way up the path, higher into the biome. At the top, there was a walkway with incredible views.
You could climb up to the very top of the biome, nearly at the ceiling of the dome, but there was a massive line since they limit the number of people on it. We figured we’d had a pretty great view already so continued on our way.
Two of the highlights were this super artsy-looking pineapple and crested partridge. The male partridge’s funky hair really reminds me of a troll doll.
Up next was the smaller, but still incredible, Mediterranean Biome.
Although it’s a smaller space, there are still over a thousand plant varieties.
If we hadn’t already had lunch, there was a cafe inside the biome that looked lovely, of course featuring Mediterranean cuisine. The whole space definitely took me back to my days in Greece. One of the most striking sights was the dynamic Rites of Dionysus sculpture, set amongst grape vines.
Back outside, we wandered the grounds and meandering pathways.
Big concerts and other shows are hosted at Eden Project, and it’s easy to see how it would be a great space for entertainment. I can picture it all illuminated at night.
We’d seen pretty much everything we could, and after a long day of exploring Cornwall, it was time to set out on our drive back to Devon. We had a lovely evening with Pat and Adrian, and made plans to walk more of the Tarka Trail the next day.
In the morning, after returning our rental car in Barnstaple, Pat dropped Andy and I off at the Fremington Cafe, along the trail. It was going to be a hot day, so we didn’t take Sapphie with us. We of course had to stop in at the cafe for Devon cream tea before setting out.
Since it was the Queen’s Platinum Jubilee long weekend, the trail was very busy with cyclists and walkers alike, but that didn’t take away from the beauty of it. Well, you can’t tell it was busy from these pictures!
Everyone seemed to be getting in the Jubilee spirit.
Fortunately the trail had some shaded portions, since it was definitely hot in the full sun.
Beginning by the coast in Fremington, the trail headed inland before popping back out by the estuary in Instow, with great views of Appledore across the water.
We passed elaborate house boats as we continued on our journey.
Marshland stretched out as we neared Bideford.
We passed Bideford and headed onward toward Landcross, ending where we started our walk to Torrington a couple days prior. Just before we reached our ending point, we crossed a bridge with some of the best views on this portion of the Tarka Trail, looking out over the peaceful River Torridge.
And that wraps up the first visit to Devon for this trip! The next morning, we were off super early to catch our train up to Rugeley. Of course, we’d be back down south at the end of our holiday to celebrate Pat and Adrian’s big day. Stay tuned for adventures in Staffordshire and beyond!