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Mount Edgcumbe Country Park – Beautiful Botanical Gardens in South East Cornwall

A large greenhouse in gardens

Spanning over 865 acres, Mount Edgcumbe Country Park in South East Cornwall is a Grade I listed landscape with stunning gardens, ancient woodlands and panoramic views of Plymouth Sound and the River Tamar.

I grew up in Torpoint, around a 15-minute drive from Mount Edgcumbe, so it is somewhere I know extremely well. As a child, we often groaned when our parents said we were going to Mount Edcumbe for the day. As an adult, even though I now live in West Sussex, every time I go home (yes, I still call the south-east corner of Cornwall home, even though I haven’t lived there for 20 years), I’m heading to the country park before I’ve dropped my bags off at my parents!

palm trees in a garden in Cornwall
Mount Edgcumbe or the tropics?

It is now my kid’s turn to moan every time we visit. However, and not surprisingly, they don’t. And I can see why. Mount Edgcumbe Park has come a long way since the 80s & 90s when I regularly visited and is now a destination in itself.

But the best thing about the Park is it is free to visit! It is open every day from 8 am to 8 pm in the summer, closing earlier in the winter. This is probably why we spent so much of our childhood there.

How to get there:

  • 🛥️ Take the Cremyll Ferry from Admiral Hard in Stonehouse
  • 🚌 Take the No. 70 Bus from Plymouth Royal Parade
  • 🚗 Take the A374 and B3247 towards Millbrook and follow the signs to Mount Edgcumbe.

Top Tips:

  • 👟 Make sure you wear comfortable shoes as there will be a lot of walking!
  • ☔ Cornwall’s weather is unpredictable, bring layers and sun protection.
  • 📷 Mount Edgcumbe is a photographer paradise, don’t forget your camera.
  • 📅 Check the Mount Edcumbe site for special events.

Where to Stay:

Nearby Excursions:

A Glimpse Into the Parks History

Mount Edcumbe House and gardens

Mount Edgcumbe has a history dating back to the Tudor period. Piers Edgcumbe and his wife bought the estate in the Cremyll area of the Rame Peninsula in the early 16th century. In 1547, Sir Richard Edgcumbe built the original house, which was destroyed by German bombs in World War II.

After restoration in 1958, the Grade II listed house was sold to Cornwall County Council and Plymouth City Council and has been open to the public since 1988. The estate itself has been meticulously preserved and maintained, offering a fascinating glimpse into centuries of British history.

mount edgcumbe house

The grand Mount Edgcumbe House serves as the centrepiece of the park, perched high on a hill above the grounds. It is an impressive sight! It has been restored to how it would have looked in the 19th century, with an extensive collection of art, furniture, and artefacts that reflect the opulence and heritage of its era.

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park

The park itself is vast and although I have been more times than I can count, I haven’t managed to see all of it. The park also contains the nearby villages of Kingsand and Cawsand, which you can walk to along the coastal path.

The Formal Gardens

tropical gardens in mount edgcumbe country park

In the 18th century, the Edgcumbe family set about creating formal gardens in the lower part of the park near where Plymouth Sound meets the River Tamar. There are 2 main car parks at Mount Edgcumbe, but we always park at the Cremyll Car Park which is closest to the formal gardens and main entrance.

a field overlooking Plymouth Sound

From here, it is a short walk to the entrance, past a large green expanse of grass and shingle beach with beautiful views towards Plymouth. As you walk through the entrance, you’ll find Aunty Em’s Gatehouse, which used to be a little shop where you could buy a bucket and spade and terrible coffee. However, it has recently had a refurb where you can now buy hot drinks, food and the all-important cornish pasty.

There is a little park behind it with a table tennis setup, so we always stop here first for a drink whilst the kids burn off some energy. Once we can drag them away, we head into the formal gardens themselves and this is where Mount Edgcumbe comes alive. They are still some of my favourite gardens to this day.

Italian Garden

a fountain in the middle of a garden
I have dropped many coins in this fountain over the years to make a wish!

After passing through an arched building, the path takes you to the Italian Garden with the impressive Orangery taking centre stage. I have seen this building take on many forms over the years, from almost abandoned, to a beautiful cafe and events building today.

a large green house in a public garden
The Orangery at Mount Edgcumbe

The garden itself is inspired by the classical gardens of Italy, with a large fountain in the middle, which was originally laid in 1785. It is bordered by trimmed hedges, flower beds and planters that, if my memory serves me right, have grown lemons and oranges!

New Zealand Garden

plants with a view of a big greenhouse
View of the Orangery from the New Zealand garden

From the Italian garden, you can either continue on the path around the seafront or head up the stairs at the other end of the garden which leads you to the New Zealand Garden, which is what we normally do. Created in 1989 to commemorate Mount Edgcumbe’s New Zealand connection (the 8th Earl of Edgcumbe, Robert Edgcumbe, was a New Zealand-British Peer) the garden is wonderfully tropical and botanical.

a path with lots of palm trees

I remember when the geyser was added to the garden as a child and we spent many hot summer days trying to guess when it would turn on and get a thorough soaking. It is a stunning garden with antipodean flora, towering tree ferns and exotic plants which come alive in the summer months.

American Garden

red flowers on a bush

Passing the geyser and through the paths, the American garden is an acknowledgement to the US forces who were stationed at Mount Edgcumbe during the Second World War and left the Cornish shores to head to Normandy.

English Garden

a garden with bath house

Continuing from the American Garden, you can either leave through a gate and little bridge into the more open spaces of Mount Edgcumbe or head left towards the English Garden. This was originally planted in the 18th century to showcase the best of England’s plants.

a cork tree

Often considered the heart of Mount Edgcumbe, this garden is the largest with little pathways under pergolas, maze-like planting and a diverse array of perennials, annuals and biennials. You will also have a glimpse into Mount Edgcumbe’s history with many buildings still intact, including an original bathhouse and garden house.

You can’t fail to notice the huge cork tree that is now lying on its side across the green. Not very English, but a testament to the original gardeners in the 18th century.

Fern Dell

palm trees and foxgloves

My favourite garden in Mount Edgcumbe, Fern Dell is a tropical oasis that will make you forget you are still in Cornwall. Huge palms tower over the garden which is in a natural dip, with tree ferns, stone seats and a gravel path winding around the plants.

a path with a stone bench and palm trees

This is the garden we always insisted on going to as kids. It has a little pet cemetery at the bottom, where the Edgcumbe family have buried their furry friends. I found this fascinating as a child and loved trying to read the names on the tiny headstones.

Relic Garden

The garden is always evolving and in 2011, the Mount Edgcumbe estate created the relic garden by placing stonework and ornaments that were discarded throughout the park. The result is a beautiful and tranquil garden, with wisteria growing around a pergola.

French Garden

an 18th century house with ornamental gardens

Centred around a large building, this was another garden I loved playing in as a kid. It has hedges set in a maze pattern with a shell pond in the middle. This garden comes alive in Summer with the floral plantings and lots of wildlife.

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park is not just a place of beauty; it is also a sanctuary for wildlife and a centre for conservation efforts. The park’s diverse habitats support a wide range of species, from birds and mammals to insects and amphibians.

a sculpture on a beach

The ancient woodlands, in particular, are home to rare and protected species, making them an important area for conservation.

The park’s management is committed to preserving and enhancing its natural environment. Conservation projects include habitat restoration, species monitoring, and educational programs aimed at raising awareness about the importance of biodiversity.

Visitors are encouraged to engage with these efforts and learn about the vital role that conservation plays in maintaining the park’s ecological balance.

Landmarks

an old house with rose bush

However, Mount Edgcumbe isn’t just about the gardens! Although I could spend most of my time wandering the many paths and woodland areas of the Park, there are lots of historical buildings and architecture to explore.

a small 18th century battery
Mount Edgcumbe block house

The blockhouse was another favourite of ours as kids. We used to call it the “Witches House” as it was dark and damp and up until 15 years ago, you could climb the small stairs to the top of the house. This has now been cordoned off for safety reasons.

barnpool beach at Mount Edgcumbe

It was built around 1545 and was a tower with battlements that controlled Barnpool Beach and the River Tamar entrance in front of it. Opposite the blockhouse is the Garden Battery with amazing views across the River Tamar, Plymouth Sound, Plymouth and Drake Island.

a battery with canons

The Garden Battery was originally created in the 16th century as a “saluting station”, complete with 21 guns to welcome visitors. The Battery still has canons pointing out to sea.

the folly at Mount Edgcumbe
Photo by my sister who lives 5 minutes away!

Another prominent landmark at Mount Edgcumbe is the Folly. This is around a 30-minute walk from the main entrance, following the south west coastal path. It is a beautiful walk, taking you through woodlands and cliffs following the coast. There is a huge pond halfway, which is where we always stopped off to feed the ducks and have a picnic.

views of an island
Views towards Drake Island

The Folly itself is actually artificial, it was built using stone from churches in Plymouth. It has the most incredible views over the Sound and is where we always go to watch the spectacular British Fireworks Championships in Plymouth.

Mount Edgcumbe House

Mount Edgcumbe House
Mount Edgcumbe House

There are numerous ways you can get to Mount Edgcumbe House. You can either park at the top in the Barrow Centre Car Park, walk down past the stables and the house is to the left. You can also climb the steep hill and tree-lined path from the main entrance, which is what we tend to do.

earls garden at Mount Edgcumbe

The House is open to the public between April and September on Tuesday, Wednesday, Thursday and Sunday, 11 am to 4.30 pm. I have never been inside the house, although not from want of trying :) It always seems to be closed on the days we visit for weddings or special events! I will get inside one day…

a large hill with views over Plymouth
Fabulous views across to Plymouth. The Green Man festival is in full swing down below

The House is surrounded by The Earl’s Garden, a well-manicured and ornamental garden which includes the East Lawn and Cedar Lawn Summerhouses. Perched high up on a hill, it offers amazing views towards Plymouth and the kids love doing roly polys down the hill, something I also did as a kid!

The Barrow Centre

a sign to adventure activities

The Barrow Centre is a relatively new edition to Mount Edgcumbe, it was rundown and somewhere we never visited growing up as kids. However, the old stables of the House and buildings around it have been transformed into a shopping and activity centre.

old stables with a cafe

It includes a Segway experience, Rame Riders where you can hire manual or electric scooters and bikes to explore the vast park, an Alpaca Trekking experience and hosts exhibitions and wildlife tours.

You can also participate in archery, ride a mini railway and learn Circus skills at the Baba Yaga’s Circus Barn (run by my step-sister’s friend!).

The Farriers Cafe is the perfect place to stop for lunch, with locally sourced homemade food and is always busy and friendly. The Cafe is situated in a beautiful courtyard where you will also find independent shops selling art, homewares and wellness products.

Events

people dancing with feather outfits

I can’t think of a better location to attend a festival than Mount Edgcumbe. The park hosts a range of events and activities throughout the year, catering to diverse interests and age groups, including;

The Green Man Event

a green man made out of branches and leaves
The Green Man

We go every year and it is a true reflection of the Cornish spirit. A huge green man is the centrepiece of this festival, created from materials found within the park. The festival is free, with live bands, stalls, activities for children and immersive entertainment.

Classic Car Rally

Held on the first Sunday of August, the Classic Car Rally Show incorporates all things vintage with a Summer Fayre.

The Armchair Adventure Festival

The Armchair Adventure Festival started in 2020 and showcases all the best of adventure travel with speakers, adventurous activities and live music.

For more information on events and exhibitions at Mount Edgcumbe, check here

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park Information

a view of the River Tamar and Plymouth
Views to Plymouth

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park is easily accessible and offers a range of amenities to ensure a comfortable and enjoyable visit. The park is located just a short ferry ride from Plymouth, making it a convenient destination for both locals and tourists.

There are several car parks in and around Mount Edgcumbe. From the A374 and B3247 to Millbrook, follow the signs to Mount Edgcumbe –

  • Cremyll Car Park – Mount Edgcumbe House and Country Park, Cremyll, Torpoint PL10 1HZ
  • Barrow Centre Car Park – Mt Edgcumbe House, Cremyll, Torpoint PL10 1HZ
  • Dry Walk Car Park – Mount Edgcumbe House, Cremyll, Torpoint PL10 1HZ

Bus – Take the No. 70 Go Cornwall bus from Plymouth Royal Parade. It takes 2 hours, so I don’t really recommend it, however, it takes you along Whitsand Bay coastal road with incredible views.

Ferry – You can get the Cremyll Ferry which departs from Admirals Hard at Stonehouse in Plymouth. This service operates daily and takes 7 minutes. It is close to Royal William Yard which is thoroughly worth a visit and a destination in itself!

Where to Stay Near Mount Edgcumbe

18th century cottages
Horseshoe Cottage where you can stay

This is Cornwall, you will be spoilt for choice when looking for accommodation around Mount Edgcumbe. There is a huge amount of Airbnbs in the area (don’t get me started on the problems this has caused to the local community), but I recommend;

Our Top 3 Picks: Accommodation around Mount Edgcumbe

#1 TOP PICK

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️
LADY EMMA’S COTTAGE
✔️ 1882 Arts & Crafts Cottage
✔️ Situated in the Park
✔️ Private Garden & Hot Tub

#2 PICK

Horseshoe Cottage
✔️ Situated in the Barrow Centre
✔️ Sleeps up to 4
✔️ Self-contained accommodation

#3 PICK

The Edgcumbe Arms
✔️ 1 minute walk from the entrance
✔️ Beautiful pub with good food
✔️ Breakfast included

Mount Edgcumbe Country Park is a true gem of South East Cornwall, somewhere I will visit time and time again. If I told my 9-year-old self that I would come back regularly as an adult, I would have no doubt pulled a face. But I do, and this goes to show what a magical and memorable place it really is!

mount edgcumbe house and park in cornwall pinterest pin

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