Pencarrow House & Gardens, Bodmin
Approaching along the magnificent mile-long carriage drive, you immediately get an inkling of the historic and horticultural treasures waiting to be discovered as you wind through an Iron Age Fort flanked by rhododendrons, hydrangeas and conifers. At the end of the driveway the grand Georgian house sits in a stunning historical garden. Pencarrow has been the home of the Molesworth family and their descendants since Elizabethan times. Explore the 50-room mansion on a guided tour and be treated to a look around a superb collection of pictures and antiques. The house is still privately owned and lived-in by the Molesworth-St Aubyn family, and back in 1882 Sir Arthur Sullivan stayed here and composed the music for Iolanthe. Not only is Pencarrow steeped in history, it is also somewhat of a horticultural hotspot. Surrounding the Palladian mansion are formal Italian and American gardens, a lake, a large Victorian rockery, acres of parkland, and woodlands abound with more than 700 varieties of rhododendrons. Bluebell Sunday, at the break of May, is a popular festival to celebrate such a prolific show of bluebells, but this is far from the only event on Pencarrow's busy events calendar. Boasting a blanket of snowdrops more abundant than almost any other Cornish Garden, there is a special winter opening to show them off on February's Snowdrop Sunday. Other events include summer concerts, jazz festivals, Christmas crafts fairs and an annual Wedding fair. All of Pencarrow's vibrant gems are easily accessible along well-maintained footpaths, and being a dog-friendly patch you can enjoy some truly beautiful walks with your four-legged companions. In fact don't leave pets or kids at home -with an imaginative children's play area, a Cornish slate Wendy House, self-pick soft fruits and colourful peacocks strutting their stuff, there is much to enjoy for all the family. With so much to discover you're bound to need a break, so put your feet up in the courtyard and relax with a cream tea or light lunch in the stunning 17th Century tearooms.
Scroll down for more information about where this venue is and other things to do whilst you are here
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Gardens will be open daily until 31st October from 9 am until 6 pm
(Gardens Only) Adults £4, children £1 (House & Gardens) Adults £8, seniors £8, 5-16yrs £4, under 5s free, disabled £6, family ticket £22. Pre-arranged parties (Gardens only) 20-30 £3.50pp 31+ £3pp (House & Gardens) 20-30 £7pp 31+ £6pp
Daily, 01 Mar-31 Oct. (House, Cafe & Shop: Sun - Thurs, 01 Apr-25 Oct)
Bodmin and the eerie pleasures of its windswept moor often get left behind in favour of the sand and sea that draw so many to the region. It’s well worth swapping flip-flops for stout boots to explore the stunning landscape that is steeped in legend, most famously perhaps in the much-sighted but never seen Beast of Bodmin Moor. The ancient town of Bodmin, on the moor’s western edge, is a good place to start an adventure, whilst heading out towards the coast, the towns of Camelford and Wadebridge offer visitors some real treats.
Pack up a picnic, don the walking boots, and take the leisurely stroll up Brown Willy, Cornwall’s highest point, for breathtaking views of the moor and beyond. To see how the other half lived, visit Lanhydrock, just south of Bodmin, the still fully-equipped kitchens are a site to behold and the formal gardens take some beating. Following a disused railway, the Camel Trail – billed as the most popular free tourist attraction in Cornwall – is a must for cyclists as part of the SUSTRANS national cycle route. If you’re not keen on the full 17-mile run from Padstow, pick up the gauntlet in Wadebridge, where, on the way back to Bodmin, there’s a glorious mixture of rivulets, woods, and moor. For a balance of guilt and virtue, try a tour at Camel Valley Vineyard www.camelvalley.com , where a guided walk amongst the vines is rewarded with a tasting session of their wines and champagne. Walk from Rock across the golf course to find Poet Laureate John Betjeman’s grave nestled in the grounds of the beautiful St. Enodoc church (which used to be buried under sand) set on a blustery clifftop a stone’s throw from Wadebridge. If the timing’s right, an underground gig at Carnglaze Caverns is nothing short of magical. And If you’re feeling particularly adventurous, why not try to pin down that illustrious and elusive Beast?
Housed in Wadebridge’s second oldest building, La Mesa www.lamesa.co.uk serves up tapas and the best of the Mediterranean in an affable setting that is the perfect mixture of wooden-beamed charm and contemporary chic. Viraj, on Bodmin’s Higher Bore Stree, dishes out a belting curry at belting prices. If it’s a case of a few too many bubbles at the Camel Valley Vineyard, why not stay for dinner? Their two options – The Cornish Finger Buffet and the Barnett Fare Gold Menu – will have you coming back for more. And if two wheels on the Camel Trail get a bit much, stop at the Camel Trail Tea Garden at Boscarne Junction for a breather, though too many of their scones might prevent even the most committed of cyclists from getting back in the saddle.
Voted CAMRA Pub of the Year in 2001, the Blisland Inn, perched high on the moor, has served up nearly 1,400 real ales in recent years, one of which was made by Sharp’s Brewery in honour of the larger-than-life landlord. Expect the warmest of welcomes. It would seem a shame to be on the moor without a visit to the Jamaica Inn, immortalised in Daphne Du Maurier’s eponymous title. Even if tourism may have piggybacked the inn’s literary fame, it’s worthy of a pint, if only as fuel for swashbuckling fantasies about the smugglers who once shared a tankard or two at the bar. For novelty value, try the Cheesewring Hotel in Minions; it’s the highest alehouse in Cornwall.
Don’t leave the Camel Valley Vineyard without a bottle of Sparkling Brut.
The mossy heathland of the moor warrants extensive exploration, be it trying to find Excalibur in the depths of Dosemary Pool, or marvelling at the erosion that has left a precarious stack of oval granite at The Cheesewring. When heading out on the moor, don’t be fooled by clear blue skies; the weather can be extraordinarily fickle, so pack your rucksack for all climes. Flanking the Cardinham Water river is Cardinham Woods, 650 acres of lush forest. Seemingly out of place amidst the barren crags and tors of the moor, there are four clearly signposted walks of varying length and difficulty.
Area information written by Helen Gilchrist, Editor, Stranger Magazine
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