Discover the beauty of the National Trust’s Trelissick estate
Words and photographs by Rebecca Bentley
You can always count on the National Trust to do an excellent job, but when a place lies within an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, there isn’t really much room for improvement but to preserve what is already a wonder to behold. Such is the case with Trelissick, where you can not only enjoy 30 acres of elevated garden swathed in hydrangeas, rhododendrons, camellias and ginger lilies, to name a few of the colourful and exotic flowers that grow among the varied woodland plants; but there’s also 300 acres of pastures, woodlands and coastline to explore, not to mention an art gallery, café, shop and, of course, the magnificent house.
It’s little wonder that Trelissick is an extremely popular place for walking enthusiasts, and while the 4-mile long walk via Roundwood Quay is the popular choice, there are shorter alternatives that are perfect for dog owners and parents with small children, as well as the garden’s meandering paths that wind beneath the trees to the log summerhouse with its glorious views out to the river.
To begin the dog-friendly Roundwood Quay walk, head out of the car park, over the cattle grid and into the parkland dotted with oak trees, from where you can see the glistening River Fal and Carrick Roads shining ahead. Trelissick House sits grandly to the left of here, and it doesn’t take a genius to work out why they chose the spot – the views are spectacular.
Take the path that leads to the left and down towards the water, where you’ll come to a lovely little beach decorated with two bench sculptures. It’s a tranquil place to stop and gaze awhile or scour the pebbles for pretty washed up shells. Again, take the left from the beach and this will take you into the woodland.
The tree-lined path winds beside the water, which glows turquoise through the branches. I can’t help wishing that the path wound immediately adjacent to the water so that you could truly immerse yourself in the beauty of both the river and the woods, but a slightly slippery detour down to the water’s edge teaches me that the walk would be a very muddy affair if it were so, not to mention the challenge of dodging branches.
Signs for the King Harry Ferry will appear after a while, and you can walk down the zigzagging path to see the bright blue chain-driven vessel that conveys 300,000 cars across the historic crossing point each year. It saves people time and fuel getting to and from the Roseland Peninsula to Truro and Falmouth and has been voted one of the world’s most scenic ferry crossings.
Back up on the main path, you’ll see a small building leading to the garden. This entrance is open from Easter to September and you can turn back up towards the house here if you want to cut the walk short. If not, keep on walking along the main path through the woods until you come to a junction. Take the path right across the water, leading to Roundwood Quay which was once busy with boats transporting tin and copper that was smelted nearby.
Nature enthusiasts are encouraged to keep an eye out for oystercatchers, curlews, lapwings, kestrels and fieldfares in this part of the walk particularly as the birds enjoy a huge bounty in the exposed mud at low tide. Nestled in among the trees behind the quay lies a promontory fort dating from the Iron Age with traceable ditches and embankments that have survived 2,000 years.
Retrace your steps back along the path to the junction and head uphill from there in the same direction as you were going before turning off towards the quay. It will take you through more beautiful woodland and onto a road where cars tend to drive fast, so be watchful of children and dogs.
The Old Lodge on the other side was built to complement the neoclassical style of Trelissick House, and is now used as a holiday let along with the New Lodge further down the road. The old gate will take you back into the grounds of the estate and a short stroll through the trees will soon open up to the parkland where the walk began with the river gleaming in the distance.
The House is closed from December 28 until April 1, when visitors will be able to explore the building and walk through the garden after dusk to the south terrace where the trees and the house are beautifully lit. The popular Trelissick Gallery exhibits contemporary artwork along with ceramics, jewellery, textiles and other crafts, making it a great place to find original Cornish wares.
Be sure to wander around the plant centre housed in the former fruit garden and peruse the second-hand bookshop before or after taking a cream tea at the Crofter’s café. There are often special evening events held in the on-site barn where you can book a jazz, burlesque or murder mystery dinner.
To find out more, visit www.nationaltrust.org.u