What is it: Free Mining Heritage Site, Adventure Playground & Gardens.
Where is it: Pool, TR15 3QY
Highlights: Quality site, great for kids, huge playground.
Self proclaimed as “The UK’s First Cultural Playground”, their website promises that they have something to keep every single one of their visitors amused. I have to say, it worked for us. I had some quality 1 to 1 time lined up with my youngest (3) the other day and Clare suggested to take him here. Finding the place was very easy and there’s a dedicated car park for the site. It’s pay and display, but fully re-deemable on any purchase once you get in there, so quite reasonable really. Bear in mind there is no entrance fee at any point and I only saw just the one donation pot, which we were happy to get involved with.
The first thing we got to (and the main reason for our visit) was the free adventure playground, claimed to be the largest in Cornwall, if not the south west. It’s great! Sam’s little eyes lit up several times as we made our way through the various sections. Here’s a little slideshow of some parts of it. It’s all very well put together, feels safe and the flooring is made up of decent soft materials and wood chip. The Willow tunnels and maze are great fun! There’s also a Snack Shack there for food and drinks. It wasn’t open when we were there, but stocks all the basics.
So after spending an hour or two in the playground, we wandered off to have a look at the heritage centre. Great stuff really, informative and interesting, without being overwhelming or boring in any way. Even with a three year old in tow, we mooched around the place and got a look at most of it without him getting tired of it. We missed the 270 degree projection presentation, although it looked very interesting. There are various other presentations, installations and displays to look at, a few interactive bits and bobs and audio info surrounding you as you go around. Then it was into the gift shop area, where they also had tables out for children to do colouring, brass-rubbing and that kind of thing too. The staff were very friendly and helpful and seemed happy to be there. We learnt a bit about the miners, wondered at the sheer scale and size of some of the equipment, pumps, boilers, winches and engines, then looked at some different types of rocks through magnifying glasses. Here’s a few ideas of the sort of thing to expect:
With lunchtime fast approaching, it was on to the lovely “Red River Cafe” to try some of their offerings. Plenty of room there. Nice, interesting decor. Again, friendly, helpful staff and the variety of drinks, snacks, cakes and meals on offer was pretty good in my opinion. I opted for the mackerel brunch, with sautéd potatoes, a spicy bean chilli and a couple of poached eggs. Very nice it was too and at £6.50, I thought that was pretty reasonable. It was fairly quiet when we visited, but nonetheless, the food came out reasonably quick (which is a godsend with a three year old in tow), was hot, well seasoned and very tasty. The perfect portion size too. Sam had his usual packed lunch as he is still quite fussy with what he’ll eat and they weren’t bothered about him eating that at the table alongside myself, so no militant rules there as far as I could see. All good. My rating for the food would be a generous 8.5/10
After lunch, we popped back to the van and got the balance bike. There are plenty of pathways all around the site so it’s perfect for a safe bit of practise and riding about. We saw plenty of other parents with kids on bikes, skateboards and scooters etc. It might get a bit sketchy in places I guess if it’s really busy and there are lots of people walking about, but when we went, it was spot on and there is plenty of room really. We cycled past the well kept lake and into the themed gardens. As you can see, there are zones for North America, South America, South Africa, Australia and New Zealand. I’m no expert, but we both enjoyed touring round them all, playing a bit of hide and seek and just taking it all in. Remembering it’s all for free, one did wonder how they afford the upkeep on just a few contributions – there were gardeners buzzing around everywhere, keeping it all shipshape. I took a few pics for you…
They seem to be running a fair few varied events at heartlands, from things like early morning business networking breakfasts,through children’s parties and book-readings to organised events like Cornwall’s answer to Comic-Con, “Geek Fest 4.0“, where you can see the Tardis, the Batmobile and the Only Fools and Horses van amongst other things.. Coupled with park run, family festivals, Engine House Tours music and theatre productions etc, there’s actually quite a lot coming up here to be fair.
In Summary, Heartlands pleasantly surprised us both and is a beautiful, well presented site. We easily spent a good few hours here, enjoyed ourselves a lot and will be back soon. There were still parts we didn’t get to, there’s an art gallery there too for example. I highly recommend to people of all ages, those that like the outdoors, gardens, particularly adventure playgrounds or mining history. My son has been banging on about it ever since to his brother and he really wants to go too, so we will be coming for our second visit any day now! 🙂
Please enjoy their computer generated video of the site below to give you an idea of the size and layout of the place. Visit their website at www.heartlandscornwall.com to learn more and keep up to date with current events and offers.
I hope you enjoyed this post. As ever, if you have any comments or questions, please feel free to do so below. If you would like us to come and visit your site and do a similar report or have a suggestion of somewhere for us to visit in Cornwall, please get in touch on the contact page…