There’s been a lot of hype surrounding the recent opening of Heartlands – Cornwall’s 19-acre ‘cultural playground’. Situated in Pool, near Redruth, the project marks much-needed rejuvenation for this derelict mining area that has had little to boast about in recent years. And the ambitious Heartlands project has certainly turned heads and drawn the crowds. That much is obvious in the adventure ‘playscape’, which is crawling with kids on a sunny Saturday morning.
As far as a morning out with toddlers goes, this place is difficult to beat. The playground is immense; all wood, water and greenery with interlinking areas where there are sit-on sculptures, climbing frames, bridges, tunnels, slides and swings. The least impressive feature is the parking charge – after all, this is firmly advertised as a free attraction.
After more than an hour I literally had to tear the tots off the play equipment in order to hunt down a coffee. On the way they discarded shoes and socks to splash their way along a water feature, finding yet more fun on route to the central courtyard at the hub of the attraction. Here a striking engine house stops you in your tracks, etching the story of the area’s past into its present.
Inside the Red River Café history is ever-present, with high-beamed ceilings and antiquated machinery on display in this old carpenter’s workshop. Food is mostly local, seasonal and delicious, although the kids’ lunchboxes are expensive and unimpressive. Being at the heart of the mining landscape, it’s little surprise that pasties are also on the menu.
Even after a stroll through the Diaspora Botanical Gardens I felt we had hardly scratched of Heartlands in this inaugural visit. What with the likes of interactive exhibits, art galleries, event spaces, a market square and visitor centre that we hadn’t stepped foot in. I’m sure it’ll become a regular on our weekly agenda of places to go, but how far we venture beyond the adventure playground remains to be seen. And will Heartlands will fulfil its £35 million of potential and put Camborne, Pool and Redruth back on the map? That too, can only answered in time.
Dudnance Lane, Pool, Cornwall, TR15 3QY