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Cornwall & the Eden Project, March 2011
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The Eden Project is ten years old this year and it is somewhere that both of us have separately said we always wanted to visit. So we decided to stop talking about it and go. We found a lovely pub called the Royal Inn about 4 miles from the Eden Project in the small Cornish town of Par. It was excellent and very reasonably priced. Par is not the most scenic of Cornish towns and the nearest beach is not the prettiest but it within a short drive of some stunning scenery and much quieter than the coast.
           
Eden ProjectThe world without plants?The ex-clay pit
As you enter the reception you are greeted by an animation showing what the world would be like without plantsAnd over the course of the next few minutes just about everything we take for granted is gone - even the models clothing!Once through reception you enter what was at one time, a clay pit and had become, before the Eden Project took it over, a big hole in the ground.
The BiomesThe outdoor biomeStatue
The biomes are giant inflatable interconnected tents forming two particular environments; Tropical and Mediterranean.The outdoor 'biome' is the walk down to the bottom of the pit and, as well as being a pleasant walk and an interesting garden, shows you the chances we are missing in building a sustainable world.Dotted around are carvings and statues. This one, made of wood, comes alive each spring as the grass becomes the statues green hair.
Tractor-trainMain stageAnother statue
If you don't fancy the walk you can take the bio-diesel fuelled tractor-train. This is more popular on the way back up than on the way down for some reason.The half-round building on the left is actually the main stage where, during the summer months, Eden hosts a number of open-air concertsAnd another, slightly rude, statue
Stunning stemsDaffodilsDaffodils
Believe it or not, this spectacular display is merely the coloured stems of the over-wintering plants.The daffodils were, as you see here, stunningAnd from the other direction too.
Bird lifeTropical biomeRain forest
On the way into the biomes we had to stop and listen to this chap, serenading us and not a bit concerned about all the people around him.As soon as you walk into the tropical biome, the heat and humidity hit you. As it was a chilly morning outside, the camera, and our glasses, steamed up instantly!Water and tropical plants are everywhere. Darryl was instantly taken back to his younger days being brought up in southern Africa as he was.
WaterfallsAccomodationAll mod cons
Artificial waterfalls add to the effect and the humidity. Some native insects, birds and animals have been introduced into the biome to balance the environmentRealistic shacks have been built which give you an idea of how the local would live were this realityAnd inside all the latest mod cons such as radio TV and VCR.
WaterfallThe sourceAbove the trees
Another waterfall tumbles downAnd, from the top of the biome comes a spectacular crash of waterAt the highest land point in the biome you can ascend further, above the tree canopy, using some metal steps and platform. You are at quite a height so the climb is not for the faint hearted - but well worth it.
The view from above36 degreesReturn to the forest
Looking down you get totally different view than from on the ground and you realise just how thickly and well planted the ground below isAnd, as you are right at the top of the biome, you also get the full force of the heat and humidity. Outside is was about 6°C but up here 36°C with 65% humidity.We stayed for quite a while but, with the sweat pouring off us, we eventually had to make our way back down.
Hot air balloonThe even higher platformBird of paradise plant?
One last look down to the hot-air balloon that used to be the only way up here and is still used by the workers at Eden Project to prune and attend to their taller specimensThis is the platform and, where the people are stood, are the steps down. The even higher platform is a maintenance platform for the biome roof.No idea what the plant is, it just looked worth a picture.
MediterraneanMediterranean biomeThe Core
On to the next biome, the Mediterranean. This was of less interest to us - after all we spend half our lives in that area but for those who don't I am sure it was as fascinating as the tropical one was for usSo we skipped though the Med biome quite quickly and back out into the sunshine of Cornwall. This is looking back to the Tropical biome.There is also a building called The Core which is the brown wooden building centre right, some interesting exhibits plus a cafe and a lift back to the top (normal ground) level from where this picture was taken, on our way out.
CharlestownCharlestown HarbourMaritime museum
One of the guides at Eden had recommended we stop off at Charlestown on our way back to Par. He said there were some old sailing ships and a maritime museumAnd, in the middle of a working fishing port, there were two sailing ships under repair. It was a lovely little town ad well worth a wander around.. and we did go around the Maritime & Shipwreck Museum; it was very interesting and had some rare artifacts from various shipping losses, including the Titanic.
St Michael's MountTheCausewayHouses on the Mount
The next day we headed south-west for Land's End but stopped off at another famous landmark in Cornwall, St Michael's MountOnly able to be reached across the causeway for four hours a day between tides we had less than an hour to do the walk over, wander around and walk backSo this is one of the few views we managed to snap
From the mainlandThe tide comes inSunny but cold
And this one, the view back to the mainland with the causeway in middle left.Back on the mainland, we sat with a coffee and watched as the incoming tide cut off the island once againAs you can see, we were blessed with plenty of sun even if the wind was a bit chilly.
Land's EndMost southerly pointThe lighthouse
And so to Land's End. Very much a tourist trap and still, in March with very few people about, insisting on £3 to park the carBut it has to be done. And this is as far south as you can get in the UK without getting your feet wet!Unless, of course, you count the lighthouse.
First & Last HousePhotographic proofAnd again!
Over to one side was the First and Last House so we had to walk thereAnd have the obligatory photo.We did consider having one taken of the mileage post but they were charging £9.50 per photo and that really is taking the p.
St Ives harbourAcross the harbourHarbour walls
On our way back, we stopped off in St Ives and had a wander to the harbour.Maybe we were a bit over-touristed by then but it it wasn't as impressive as we'd thought from the brochureThough maybe in the summer sun it would have done more for us.
 

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