The Lost Gardens of Heligan – a magical woodland dog walk in Cornwall

The Lost Gardens of Heligan are a must-visit tourist attraction if you’re heading down to Cornwall – and your dog will love it.

The historic woodland and gardens were lost to nature after the outbreak of the First World War, covered in brambles and ivy and forgotten about. They were rediscovered in 1990, and became Europe’s largest garden restoration project to bring the sites 200 acres of wildlife and botanicals back to life.

We took a family trip with the Scamps back in August, and it was a beautiful day for it too! Adult tickets cost £16 per person, with children priced at £8 – which is on the pricier side of a National Trust gardens, but still less expensive than The Eden Project, so makes a great alternative. It was about a 40 minute drive from our dog-friendly accommodation at Hendra.

There are lots of different parts and themed gardens to explore, so we followed the Covid-safe one-way system through the woodland walk Lost Valley first. This part of the walk will certainly keep little ones busy hunting for ‘Giants’ in the woodland. There are three sculptures to discover, The Giant’s Head, Mudmaid and Grey Lady – and I heard that there are fairies living in the forest, too.

‘Dogs with well behaved owners’ are welcome at The Lost Garden’s of Heligan – a rule I very much appreciate. It’s the pawfect place for your dog to get their nose to the ground and do some seriously exciting sniffing. Dogs should be kept on leads at all times due to rare livestock and poultry on the site, as well as keeping other visitors and dogs safe.

There are several dog waste bins dotted around the site, which are clearly marked on the free garden map. The only places dogs aren’t allowed are in the Heligan Kitchen or the tea room.

The tropical Jungle garden features a raised boardwalk, snaking around four ponds, with giant rhubarb plants, bamboo and palm plants. As a big fan of tropical plants, this was probably my favourite part of the garden, and it was amazing to get a bird’s eye view of the ponds from the rope bridge which spans over the trees. Dogs are also not permitted on the rope bridge, but on our visit, a number of guests ignored this rule (and the several signs leading up to the bridge) and carried their pets across the difficult-to-natvigate bridge anyway.

In the Pleasure Grounds, historic pathways lead to romantic structures, including a gorgeous Italian garden. Here, the Sundial Garden and Northern Summerhouse are must-visits.

The Productive Garden sees over 300 varieties of fruit, veg and herbs that supply the Heligan Kitchen with fresh, seasonal produce. This is a more open garden to walk around, and lots of colour makes for a great photo of your pet.