Glendurgan Garden, Mawnan Smith
Owned and managed by the National Trust, this beautiful and exotic valley garden near Falmouth blooms throughout the year, thanks to Cornwall’s temperate climate. Wind your way down past the upper banks to the jungle valley, and on to Glendurgan’s own, sheltered beach right at the bottom.
THE HISTORY OF GLENDURGAN
Bought by Alfred and Sarah Fox back in 1820, much of what you see at Glendurgan today was indeed planted by the Fox’s. Alfred and Sarah worked on the valley for two decades, preserving and developing it – including the wonderful laurel maze, which they planted to keep their children entertained! The National Trust acquired the garden in the 1960s, but descendants of the Fox family still live in the garden’s house today – and take an active role in the ongoing development of Glendurgan.
WHAT IS THERE TO SEE AND DO?
There are distinct areas to explore at Glendurgan, coming together to lead down to a sheltered beach at the village of Durgan on the Helford River. In springtime, the sunny upper banks are covered in beautiful wildflowers including violets, primroses and bluebells – take time out to rest a while in the boat seat and watch over this colourful spectacle before continuing to the lower part of the valley…
The exotic, jungle-like lower valley is home to all sorts of plants and trees not native to Britain – such as the Tulip tree, magnolias, dogwoods, ferns, palms and succulents.
Right at the bottom of the valley is Durgan village and beach. Here, a few picturesque cottages, boat stores and former fish cellars sit alongside the sand/shingle beach – which is usually sunny, and great for rock pooling! One fish cellar has been converted into a place where visitors can sit and rest a while with hot drinks and ice creams. Whilst you’re there, learn all about the village of Durgan from the helpful volunteers – or ask if you can borrow a beach chair or two before making your way back up through the garden.
Don’t forget to stop at the laurel maze with its thatched summerhouse in the middle – or to have a go on the Giant’s Stride, a rotating rope swing which forces you to take larger steps the faster you go round!
The small thatched building back up at the top of the valley is a recreation of the school room which taught local children – including Alfred and Sarah’s own children – for over fifteen years back in the mid 1830s.
If you feel like exploring further, then the coastal footpath runs past Glendurgan, and you can also catch the ferry from Helford Passage across the river to Helford Village…
… and as with all good National Trust properties, there is of course a lovely tea room and shop to visit just before you head home.
OPENING TIMES AND ENTRY PRICES
Glendurgan Garden's opening times vary depending on the time of year; please see Glendurgan's website for more details. Admission prices are as follows: