The sun was shining, but thanks to a stiff sea breeze it wasn’t quite time to break out the shorts or fight two toddlers into wetsuits and plonk them on the beach. So, keen to get outside without wellies and winter jackets (hurrah), we found ourselves at Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, beckoned by trees to climb, interactive art exhibits, wide-open spaces and a sheltered location overlooking Mounts Bay.
This 20-acre plot – once owned by the monks of St Michael’s Mount – has been transformed into a seamless fusion of nature, art and family fun. Aside from Cornwall’s wide-open beaches and a handful of National Trust gardens, I’ve found few places so well suited to two wild and curious pre-schoolers, a dog and me.
While I basked under palm trees in the sunshine, admired sculptures inspired by nature, and gazed at the sky through an underground elliptical chamber, the boys trampled through bluebell woodland, scrambled up tree trunks, marvelled at the magic of the camera obscura and learned not to touch cacti. The dog, meanwhile, was happy to tag along, scenting the trails through bluebell woodland and dipping his paws in the burbling stream to cool down.
On arrival, where the Lime Tree Café distracts you with its blue trees, mouth-watering cakes and platters of fresh Cornish fare, it would be easy to simply take a seat (on the terrace or by the log fire) and forget it was the gardens you came here for. But save cream teas and apple cake for later and push on to discover what lies hidden beyond the gates. Once you’ve climbed the carpets of lawn to mature woodland, witnessed bamboo sculptures, skipped along boardwalks that follow the stream, helped small children climb ancient trees and gawped at the views, you’ll emerge from the fairytale with an appetite fit to tackle what’s on offer at the café.
Tremenheere Sculpture Gardens, nr Gulval, Penzance, Cornwall TR20 8YL
www.tremenheere.co.uk, 01736 448089
Adults £6.50, 11-15 £3, under 11s free, family tickets £16.
Monthly farmer’s markets, late night tapas and music nights, dawn choirs and special events on during summer months. See website for details.