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Paradise...and not a Serpent in sight!
Eden Project (Cornwall)
Member Name: Suzan
Eden Project (Cornwall)
Date: 07/01/02, updated on 07/01/02 (212 review reads)
Advantages: Stunning, Unique, Breathtaking
Disadvantages: Access restricted in some parts
I followed the crowds down to the Visitor Centre, where two lengthy queues had already formed, one being for visitors who had pre-booked their tickets, and one for those of us who hadn’t. Fortunately, when the doors were opened at ten-o-clock precisely, the queues moved quickly and in only minutes I was standing on the Gateway to Eden, looking down at this amazing place.
What Is Eden?
The original Eden was a paradise from which man was banished due to his own selfishness and greed. This new Eden is, if you like, man’s second chance, the chance to prove that we can make use of the world’s resources without totally exhausting them, that we can care for and nurture our planet, that we can put back as much as we take out, in short, that we can live in harmony with nature.
Eden is built within a huge, disused china clay pit, and when I say huge, I mean huge! The pit is 60 m deep and is the size of 35 football pitches.2, 000 rock anchors were driven into the sides of the pit to stabilise them, At the outset there was no soil in the pit, and the Eden team had to make their own – in total, 85,000 tonnes! There are over 135,000 plants, of approximately 4,500 species at Eden.
My attention (and that of most visitors, I imagine) was immediately drawn to the two awe-inspiring geodesic conservatorie
s (geodesic meaning constructed as spheres, according to the geometry of the Earth’s surface) Of these, the largest is the….
Humid Tropics Biome.
Described poetically as “a majestic rainforest cathedral”, the Humid Tropics Biome is the world’s largest greenhouse, and is 11 double decker buses in height and 24 in length. The air in the Biome is kept between 18 and 35 o C, and water jets and misters spray continually to provide a real steamy atmosphere, in which the tropical plants flourish. Here you can visit the Oceanic Islands, Malaysia, West Africa and Tropical South America, and learn how the indigenous peoples live and work. Some of the crops you will see growing here are rubber, cocoa, coffee, bananas (do you know how many different varieties of banana there are…short ‘uns, long ‘uns, curved;’uns, pink and yellow ‘uns, and, yes, straight ‘uns!)
Also, cola, chewing gum, pineapples, sugar, yams, pumpkins, mangoes, papaya, breadfruit, peppers, spices and much more.
The Humid Tropics Biome contains a breathtaking waterfall, and you can go right to the top of it (there are two routes, one easy, one more challenging.)
Be aware that in the summer months it gets very hot and sticky in the Humid Tropics Biome.Halfway round there is an “escape” exit if you are feeling overcome by the heat, and nearer the top of the waterfall there is a “Cool Room”, which you are asked to leave free for those who really need it.
The second and smaller of the two biomes is the….
Warm Temperate Biome.
Here you are taken on a journey to the lands of the Mediterranean Basin, South Africa and California, and your senses are overcome both by the sights and smells of the crops here, from citrus fruits such as oranges, lemons, limes, grapefruit and tangerines, to the twisting grape vines, from cork to cotton, from aubergines to innumerable variet
ies of tomato, from lentils and soyabeans to the incomparable and cherished olive.
Scents abound too, as well as a palette of stunning colours from such flowers as Easter lilies, pelargoniums and Daturas.
The Outdoor Landscape.
Outside the biomes, there is more to see. You can wander around to your heart’s content, or if you prefer, you can enlist the help of one of the knowledgeable guides to take you round. Visit the steppe and prairie and tea plantation, crops for paper, crops, for brewing, the flowerless garden (yes, I was puzzled…the garden is filled with ferns, mosses and horsetails), the apple orchard (watch out, Eve!) the mustard crops, indigo crop, liquorice, berries. Don’t miss the stunning sunflowers or the heavenly lavenders. Also worth seeing are the plants for health and medicine.
Ooh, My Aching Feet!
When you feel you need a break (and Eden is such a big site that you will need a break), there area number of places to eat and drink. Situated between the two Biomes are cafes with indoor and outdoor seating and there is also a café in the Visitor Centre, as well as refreshment tents here and there, at least one of which is licensed. There is also a picnic area for those who have taken their own food. Prices are comparable with most other attractions, although personally, I would recommend taking a picnic, especially if you have children with you, as it would be considerably cheaper.
Toilets are situated in the Visitor Centre, by the cafes between the two Biomes (disabled toilets available here) and there are also toilets near to the picnic area.
There is a shop (you just knew it, didn’t you?) in the Visitor Centre, which sells mostly, if not exclusively, organic produce. I treated myself to some Fair Trade chocolate…delicious. There is a wide selection of Duchy products, such as biscuits, organic wine, chocolates, jams and preserves. Be warned…they are not chea
p! Inevitably, there is also a selection of tourist tat…forget it!
Eden is a huge site, and you are advised to allow at least three hours to get the most from your visit, although you could easily spend a day there. However, it can be tiring, and the elderly, disabled and very young children may find it rather heavy going. I understand that there are wheelchairs available on request, but it may well be on a “first come, first served” basis. There is a shuttle service from the Visitor Centre to the Biomes, however.
Apart from guide dogs, dogs are not allowed on the site. Although there is a limited amount of shaded parking and water available, I don’t think it fair to take your dog to Eden.On my way back to my vehicle I witnessed a family pet in distress with the heat, although its owner had parked in shade.
Admission charges are:
Adults…£9.50…Children aged 5-15…£4.00…Under 5s…Free…Seniors (60+)…£7.50…Students…£5.00 and Families…£22.00.
There are special rates for groups of 10 or more, but these must be pre-booked. Guided tours are also available, but again, these must be pre-booked, by calling 01726 811903.
March – October…daily 10am until 6pm (last admission 5pm)
November – February…daily 10am until 4.30pm (last admission 3pm)
Closed Christmas Eve and Christmas Day.
How Do I Get There?
The Eden Project is at Bodelva, St Austell, Cornwall, PL24 2SG.You will see signposts on the A390, the A30 and the A391.Buses run from the nearby towns of St Austell and Newquay and from the City of Truro.Further details of the bus services can be obtained by calling Truronian on 01872 273453.
You can telephone The Eden Project on 01726 811911
Fax on 01726 811912
go again? Oh yes, indeed .The Eden Project is stunning now, and in a year or two, when the plants have become more established, it will be even better. I shall definitely be returning.
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