For most of us, Cornwall is the UK's answer to the summer beach holiday with thousands of us making an exodus to the south coastal beach havens of Kernow over the sunnier months for a jolly holiday. Although it is a great place to try out surfing and a cream tea in the summer, Cornwall is the gift that keeps on giving, right into winter.
It's not just the lure of wanting to roam the landscape like Poldark that is drawing people to the coastline, but the cost of travelling to Europe is making us look for new spots to run away to. Teeming with gardens that are full to the brim with tropical, perfumed and exotic findings, the horticultural South West is a land which could easily be overlooked but should definitely be on your autumn bucket list.
IBTimes UK headed South to find a staycation that can satiate the UK escapists' appetite.
The first stop was The Eden Project to breathe in the scents of the Mediterranean on British soil. Typically a reason to stay indoors, the fact that it was raining upon arrival made it all the more exotic to step into the biospheres nestled in the flourishing countryside.
During the summer, the Eden Project can feel more like a Center Parcs dystopia overrun with children, but from September onwards it could not be a more wonderful time to escape to – especially as the site is celebrating its 15th anniversary with a beautiful new project, the Perfume Garden.
If you haven't visited Eden since it opened in 2001, it will feel like arriving for the first time, where what was previously a huge hunk of mud and a few plants is now a verdant paradise, even in the drizzle.
Inspired by the historical linear Moorish gardens from Spain, the new plot, Perfume Garden, is an olfactory sensation which sits in a bright area of Eden's Mediterranean Biome.
Whether you're wanting an escape or want to take some notes on how to create your own perfumed garden at home, this is a fantastic place to transport yourself to another country without stepping on to a plane. Terracotta-tiled floors, runs and benches dotted around you can take in the scents of everything from lavender to tuberose, orange blossom and jasmine without moving an inch. You don't even get all that abroad most of the time.
From here you can wander into the Med Terrace restaurant that sits in the heart of the biome to grab a bite to eat and a glass of wine while immersed in the warm, flora-covered space where bees innocently buzz past – far more interested in the plants than you.
The scent of the stone-baked pizza wafting through the area will send you straight to that menu but do not leave without sharing one of the antipasti platters where they have transformed Cornish produce into a Mediterranean feast.
If you fancy walking further afield, the tropical landscape continues for miles. Here you can amble through leafy walkways, to The Lost Gardens of Heligan. This is a day's walk though of over 8 miles so only head off on foot if you are in the mood for a long day out. If not, its about a 25-minute drive to the rediscovered Heligan Gardens.
After lying hidden for decades, the gardens are now a living museum to Victorian horticulture with acres of tropical plants and decadent sculptures. Wander through the jungle grounds and over the Burmese mountain bridge and you will forget you're in England straight away.
When it comes to finding a place to stay, be sure to make the trip back into the heart of Falmouth to experience beauty on the water's edge, with its beautiful harbour. Whether you are used to dining in the petite marinas of Brittany, or Minorca, you will find the same atmosphere in Falmouth, nestled onto the banks of the River Fal.
The Greenbank Hotel is a place you must pay to pay a visit to, and if you can, arrive by boat as this is the only UK hotel with its own moorings – an opportunity that should be taken advantage of.
Dating back to 1640, this hotel is laden with history and is where Kenneth Grahame wrote the intro to Wind in the Willows. Straddled across many levels, nooks and crannies, The Greenbank is the perfect place to retreat to.
The wide bay-windows on the harbour-side provide the most incredible vista to wake up to, while the same view by night can be enjoyed downstairs in the newly renovated Water's Edge Restaurant. On a clear evening, the veritable delight of reflective light darting on water will transport you to another world altogether.
Venturing around town, you can take in some of the best aspects of Cornwall – that is, the pubs and the ale on the harbour front but you will want to wrap up warm for this. The historical setting of Falmouth also had a starring role in the latest series of Poldark, providing another lure to the area, but you will have to be quick as bookings for The Greenbank rose by 210% after the first episode – so be sure to get in early.
If you were looking for a getaway to make you feel totally removed from UK life, Cornwall is possibly the best and closest stop for equatorial temperatures on holiday – with all the history and comfortable trappings of a Great British staycation.
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