I visited Carngalze Caverns early on a Saturday morning in April. The caverns are based in the Cornish village of St Neot, halfway between Bodmin and Liskeard. I was met by the owner Caroline who has lived onsite at the caverns for the last 17 years.
Caroline was hard at work when I arrived cleaning the display cabinets of all the minerals and rock formations found in the caverns and locally in the South West. Caroline introduced herself and warmly invited me to join her as she walked around the caverns doing the morning safety checks and ensuring everything was ready to open to the public.
Party at the Rum Store
First Caroline showed me the Rum Store which is the bar and function area. Various different functions are held here including weddings! Caroline told me about the history of the Rum store and how it is now used as a 400 capacity concert hall. Caroline informed me about how many different local bands play here and how they benefit from the amazing natural acoustics the caves offer. You can check out upcoming events on the Carnglaze Caverns Facebook page. The bar is fully licensed and I reckon this would be such a cool place to see a live band or hold a wedding reception.
Exploring the Caverns and Mining Life
Next, we donned our yellow hard hats and made our way down the 60 stairs into the former slate mine. Visitors can take themselves on a self-guided underground tour which details information about mine’s history and life of a miner. There are numbered points for visitors to stop off at and find out more information. Visitors are invited to turn on lights that illuminate the underground lakes – this allows them to experience the magic for themselves.
Various lifelike mannequin models are situated around the caverns depicting the job of the miners who would have mined the slate here many years ago. I think the models help to give visitors an idea of what mining here would have been like and the challenges the miners would have experienced every day. The caverns are obviously underground which means it can get quite chilly – Caroline told me it’s normally a constant 10 degrees and so if you’re planning to visit in the summer then be sure to remember to bring a jumper!
Caroline took me down to part of the cavern which is beautifully lit with underwater lights – the underground lake. Here you can witness the true natural beauty of the caverns and see how crystal clear the mineral water is. I thought the water was beautiful and had such nice blue / green tones to it. Caroline told me that this water links up to her mains water at her house and is fully drinkable once filtered. It was quite hard to get a good shot as camera flashes are not permitted inside the caverns – this is to help preserve the caverns and not scare the bats that reside within the caves. You’ll just have to visit for yourselves to see their full wonder!
After completing all the safety checks and ensuring the caverns were ready to be opened to the public we made our way outside. Here, Caroline showed me the gift shop which is stocked with plenty of cave-related souveniers, crystals and artwork from local artists. I got myself the cutest little hard hat keyring – I couldn’t resist! There is a picnic area and some vending machines for people to buy drinks and snacks too.
Woodland Walks and Fairy Heaven
Onsite at the caverns is a lovely garden area with a woodland walk that heads upwards over the top of the caverns. I left Caroline to her first waiting visitors and took myself for a walk. The terrace gardens are adorned with lots of fairies and mythical creatures to look out for. I enjoyed walking around following the various trails and admiring the Spring blooming flowers.
Taking the woodland walk led me high up and over the caverns offering me views down over the wooded valley. There’s also an amazing panoramic view of St Neot village to set your sights on.
I came across a secret hobbit house and sat on a bench looking up through the trees which were home to many birds nests. I thought this made a for a great photo opportunity. The woodland walk is circular and so I carried on walking downwards and was led back to the car park. It was an enjoyable walk and I felt really relaxed being immersed in all that wonderful nature.
Carnglaze Caverns is a family-run indoor and outdoor attraction located near Liskeard in Cornwall. I think for the entrance fee of £7.00 (£5.00 for children aged 3-15 years) you get a unique experience of self-touring an old slate mining cavern. There’s history to be learnt and some cool sights to be seen. The attraction is aided by the lovingly maintained fairy gardens and peaceful woodland walk. Carnglaze Caverns is open Mon-Sat 10am-5pm and is open later in August. Caroline was a lovely owner and was able to not only offer me a very warm welcome but lots of information about the caverns. I would certainly recommend Carnglaze as a unique place to visit that’s fun for all ages!
*** Whilst entry to Carnglaze Caverns was provided to us free of charge, all comments and opinions are entirely my own***
What do you think about the caverns? Ever visited an old slate mine before? Let me know in the comments below!
I don’t believe in ghosts. That’s something I’ve always told myself and others – partly because I’ve never experienced anything from the paranormal, and partly because the thought of anything ghostly scares me! So when Bodmin Jail in Cornwall invited us down for an overnight stay at Britain’s most haunted venue I wasn’t so sure! Staying overnight and exploring a jail I hadn’t visited before, with a group of people I didn’t know, – not quite for me on my first paranormal experience I don’t think.
History and Paranormal Tour
We opted to go on the 2 hour Historical and Paranormal Tour. The jail offers this every Friday and Saturday night at 6.30pm. The tour is advertised as “an in-depth guided paranormal jail tour through the history of this unique destination”. And this is exactly what we got!
We were met by our host Kirsten in the restaurant and gift shop area of the jail. Kirsten introduced herself and told us we were going to have a private tour around the jail – how exciting! Kirsten told us about her work and her role at the jail; she seemed genuinely really interested in all things paranormal and was full of awesome stories and facts.
Our tour started outside by the front entrance to the jail – I was glad we brought our coats as it was a chilly night indeed – the ghost stories only made the goosebumps increase! Kirsten told us about how the prisoners would have arrived at the jail back in the 1700 – 1800 hundreds. She explained some of the common crimes that would have led to the prisoners being imprisoned here which was quite enlightening.
This was taken during the day – it was much more scary at night time!
We moved on to where the medical section of the prison had been. Kirsten had lots of gruesome stories for this section of the prison! It was hard to believe that women would have given birth in this section of the prison whilst they were detained. Many children lived within the prison too – what kind of life must that have been?
Next we spent time looking around the stables and the execution pit. Apparently there were 60 executions at the jail between 1735 and 1909. You can see a list of all the prisoners that were hung whilst at the prison.
It’s mad to think that an execution used to be a public display and crowds of people (up to 25,000!) would go and watch; as it was some sort of family attraction. Apparently, people used to be able to see the executions from trains that run from London to Penzance – trains would stop below the prison wall so passengers could witness the execution from their seats! Imagine that! It’s certainly not something I would have wanted to see – the thought of it really gives me the creeps. In 1868 the law was changed which ensured that executions took place in private.
Whilst standing by the stables Kirsten said she felt a presence.. definitely time for us to move on!
Inside the Jail
We moved on through to the entrance to the jail – we were actually the first people to be taken through the new entrance – how exciting! There are quite a few renovations and building works going on at the moment but this didn’t disrupt our tour – only added to it when we heard about how the builders will now only work in pairs due to mysterious going ons!
We entered the jail and went down to the ground floor. Here, Kirsten turned off her torch meaning it was pitch black! Kirsten asked us if it was ok if she shared with us if she saw any orbs or felt any presence of paranormal spirits. I reluctantly said yes.
As we stood in the pitch black being able to see nothing, I couldn’t help but feel a little nervous and let out an anxious laugh. I couldn’t even see my hand in front of my face! Kirsten told us she could see a shadow in the doorway behind us. I couldn’t see anything myself but I think that’s because my eyes were closed out of fear!! I oddly felt a cold sensation behind my left shoulder, near to where Nathan was standing next to me. I didn’t think anything of it until a few minutes later Kirsten told us there was a presence standing behind Nathan – now that really freaked me out! Could I have witnessed a sudden drop in temperature that Kirsten had told us we could experience if a prison spirit was nearby!?
Nathan, who believes in paranormal stuff and ghosts more than me, said at times felt he could see shadows and explained he felt a funny sensation on his nose – not sure what that was about but Kirsten was very interested in it! Apparently, all those that attend the overnight stays at the jail are added to a private Facebook page where photos and stories are shared based on their experiences.
Exploring the Cells
Having spent enough time in the dark we carried on our tour looking at the various displays with manikins. Each display is accompanied by information boards telling you what is being depicted in the scene. I read these with interest in the dim torchlight. It’s amazing when you’re feeling a little spooked how the manikins look like they are moving or winking at you!
We climbed the spiral staircases to the other wings of the prison. Here we found out lots more about prison life and about some of the prisoners that resided here. I won’t go into too much detail about the stories in case you go on the tour for yourself – I don’t want any spoilers!
Kirsten was great in answering all our questions and appeared to know so much about the prison and its history. She told us lots of stories about the paranormal activity she has witnessed during nighttime tours of the jail and also gave us information about how the overnight stays work – I was even tempted to book one up! On reflection, I’m still not sure I could handle it but I know we would be in safe hands with Kirsten and her paranormal partner Paul.
Whilst we were walking around we spotted some of the building works which are going ahead to make a hotel at the jail. Can you imagine staying within the jail knowing all the gruesome encounters that went on – I don’t think I’d sleep! I reckon it would be pretty cool though and something to tick off your bucket list – I mean how many people can say they’ve stayed in a jail which happens to be the most haunted hotel! We even saw where there would be a room right next to where people used to be hung over the side of the building – imagine sleeping well knowing that!
The building of the 63 roomed hotel has caused some controversy locally. I remember seeing some articles in the media about it, with some locals being unhappy about the proposed idea. I guess you can get married at the jail so why not stay the night there too! I think some people are worried it will ruin the attraction but I’m undecided. They are currently creating the hotel from two derelict cell blocks so nothing I assume none of the current exhibition will be disrupted.
I will be really intrigued to see how it looks and what the decor is like – I mean how do you decorate a room in a prison! I can’t imagine how much a nights stay will cost but I’m sure it would be a night to remember – especially if you combine it with one of the jail’s overnight tours! Maybe we will get invited back sometime!
After two hours our tour had come to an end – I couldn’t believe how fast the time had passed. I was relieved we had made it out without any dramas! My head was full of interesting ghost stories and prison facts – what a brilliant tour.
Nathan and I both really enjoyed the tour and it was something a bit different to do on a winter Friday night. We were talking about our experience for days and recommended it to all our friends. I think £25 per person is a reasonable price fun and memorable night out.
There is also a restaurant and tea room at the jail and they run many special events. I liked the sound of the tapas night they were holding the same week we visited. The jail also offers scary cinema nights and during the day people can visit the jail and walk around at their own pace exploring the exhibits. There’s a well stocked and fun gift shop too. Check out the Bodmin Jail Facebook page for the latest info and events list.
Big thanks to all the lovely staff at Bodmin Jail and special gratitude to Kirsten for guiding us around and sharing all her knowledge with us. You never know, we might be back!!
***Whilst the tour was provided to us on a complimentary basis, all thoughts and opinions within this post are my own***
Would you be brave enough to visit the jail? Take a tour and stay overnight? What do you think of a hotel being built within the jail? Let me know your thoughts below 🙂
Arghhhh me hearties! Ahoy there from Pirates Quest in Newquay! What a fun and different experience this attraction is! Read on for live pirate actors, Cornish shipwreck stories and my thoughts of the treasure trail!
A World of Pirate Legendry!
We visited Pirates Quest in Newquay, Cornwall on a wet, miserable day in February half term. We arrived and parked easily in the large car park opposite. Walking over to the brightly coloured entrance adorned with pirate flags and large skull and bones logo I wondered what Pirates Quest had instore for us!
After being greeted warmly by Jaimie on the ticket desk we were given our individual treasure maps. The maps had details of the adventure we were about to embark on and helpfully marked where photo points and clues would be. On the other side of the map there was a choice of three puzzles to be solved as we walked around. These included a cross word, looking out for different coloured parrots and finding letters to unscramble to make a pirate-themed word. The different quests are aimed at different abilities / ages but you can complete them all if you wish! You are told you will need to show your completed quest at the exit to claim some pirate booty! Game on!
Armed with our maps we made our way to the start of the tour. We weren’t quite sure what to expect and enjoyed looking around at all the pirate theme artefacts on the walls as other crew mates arrived. There were various other groups of people who joined us – mostly families with younger children.
Once we were all assembled (tours run every hour so it’s good to be on time) a video played introducing us to Pirates Quest and Captain Calico Jack. The Captain told us a little about what to expect from our trip and welcomed us on-board the shipwreck of Royal Anne!
Our Voyage Commences!
After the video finished the real-life Captain Jack appeared – this was rather amusing to some of the children who I don’t think they had been expecting it! Captain Jack took us on-board and guided us round on our voyage. The scene is set in the 1700’s and there is lots of reference to Cornish history, piracy and of course many shipwrecks. The live actors are brilliantly engaging and tell you myths of pirate days gone by and legends lost to sea. You even get to find out how Newquay got its name. I found all these tales pretty interesting to listen to and the actor did well at answering lots of questions from a couple of inquisitive young boys. I think he got his revenge when he put them in the stocks!
After exploring a few different areas Captain Jack left us and we were joined by another pirate – Edward England. He took us around a few more different areas including through mystical caves, smuggling coves and the Blackbeard Tavern – a traditional Cornish inn for a pint! Again, this actor was engaging and funny and liked to crack a few jokes with members of the group.
The Scare Section!
Towards the end of the tour you are asked to make a decision as to whether you want to enter the “scare section” of the tour or take the safer route. I won’t say too much about what the scare section involves as I don’t want to ruin the experience for anyone but I think the suspense was worse than the scares! All the children on the tour opted to take the scare route and nobody came out crying so that was good!
We really enjoyed our hour at Pirates Quest and found the live actors to be engaging, funny an informative at the same time. We found Jaimie on the desk to be polite and welcoming and the little shop well stocked with pirate themed blunder to purchase.
You can journey back in time and check out the new 2018 storyline – the golden age of piracy at Pirates Quest now! It’s super easy to book online and is a fun filled hour for all the family. I would really recommend visiting – especially if you have children and it’s raining in Newquay (which is often is!)
***Whilst our complementary tickets were provided by Pirates Quest all my thoughts and opinions are my own. Ticket prices can be found on the Pirates Quest website here***
A weekend trip to Cornwall wouldn’t be complete without a Nathan and Rachel trip to a National Trust property and this weekend was no different!
We decided to visit Lanhydrock in Bodmin again – we previously visited in the summer which you can read about here if you’re interested! We parked up and walked down to the house. It was quite busy and there were plenty of people out walking and making trips to the house.
As we walked through houses entrance gate we noticed the gardens had been decorated with different coloured baubles – they looked so much like flowers from a distance and we thought they were super clever and festive.
A Victorian Christmas
Lanhydrock house had been decorated all ready for Victorian Christmas and it really took you back in time. The various rooms and displays were all set up as if it was Christmas Day in 1887 and Lord and Lady Robarte were hosting Christmas lunch. Written displays dotted around the house told you who would be attending the grand Christmas dinner and what they would be eating.
There were plenty of decorations to admire and the dining room display was beautifully set with menus reflecting food that would have been offered within the Victorian era.
Subsequently within the kitchens there were lots of food displays to look at and some children were enjoying giving making mince pies ago and watching a bread making demonstration.
We were quite short on time (a bit like last time we visited!) and so didn’t have a chance to go for a longer walk around the gardens or visit the chapel but we left knowing we would return again soon for sure and felt a lot more festive for visiting!
After exploring National Trust’s Trerice my friend Emily and I made our way to Newquay to the Headland Hotel. Here we were booked to try their Festive Afternoon Tea and we couldn’t wait! It was super wet and windy on the coast and so it was definitely time for tea (and mulled wine!)
Festive Afternoon Tea
We were seated in the restaurant at a lovely table in the corner which overlooked Fistral Beach – it was nice to watch the few brave surfers battling the waves and see the rain crashing onto the sea below. It wasn’t too busy in the restaurant which meant it was quite quiet and the service was good. We were able to have a right old natter too!
We were given the choice of hot drinks – I had tea and Emily had a coffee and we both had a warm glass of mulled wine which was delicious. There were Christmas crackers on the table and which added a bit more festive sparkle.
When the tier of plates which the festive treats arrived we both let out an “oooooh”. It all looked super yummy and we didn’t watch ay time digging into the sandwiches and Cornish scones.
After devouring the sandwiches and scones and with the mulled wine going down nicely we moved on to try the delightful festive treats on the top tier of the afternoon tea stand. There was some stollen cake, a mince pie, a snowman macaroon and orange flavoured posset in a glass adorned with a christmasy candy cane plus some other tasty delights. It was all super yummy and we were stuffed by the end – not too bad for £18.50 each I don’t think.
Whilst I have had quite a few afternoon teas in the last few years I really enjoyed this one at the Headland and the festive spin they put on it – it made it something a bit more special and different from others I have been too.
I also think the hotel was decorated beautifully for Christmas and it felt really warm, cosy and traditional. I would have loved to have stayed here over the festive season. Maybe I’ll be back next year!
You can find out more about the Headland Hotel, Newquay here.
When my friend Emily and I were arranging a Christmas meet up we knew as we were both National Trust Members a trip to an NT property would feature. We decided on Trerice, which is in Cornwall, and met on a rather wet December day.
The car park was surprisingly busy and there was lots of people bustling around and enjoying the property. Trerice had laid on some festive workshops which included wreath making and painting Christmas tree decorations. We didn’t partake in these but I’m sure they were great and I can imagine lots of children would enjoy the decoration painting. There was also the option to make a visit to Father Christmas, which again, for obvious age reasons, Emily and I didn’t partake in!
Christmasses Gone By
This year Trerice had been decorated to represent a Christmas gone by from the 1950’s. In the North Chamber you could see how a Christmas at the Elton family would have looked and there were plenty of children’s toys and games that were from the past. Emily and I enjoyed looking at some of the old fashioned games and imaging what life would have been like for us if we had lived a couple of generations ago and what toys we would have been opening on Christmas morning.
A Bite to Eat
After exploring we decided we needed a little bite to eat. We visited the Barn Restaurant and treated ourselves to a savoury pastry and drink. I had a spinach and feat filo parcel and a wild elderflower bubbly drink. I enjoyed the drink but less so the filo parcel – it was a little greasy and would have been nicer if it had been served warm.
There’s a tradition at Trerice that has been going since 2014 in which gold painted plaster stars have been hung in the ceiling of the Barn Restaurant. Apparently the stars now feature during the festive period at Trerice and look nice and pretty hanging from above. Stupidly I don’t appear have taken any pictures of them though!
Just as we were getting ready to head out and explore Trerice’s gardens an orchestra started to play Christmas songs and carols and added to the festive feeling amongst all the visitors.
We spent a little time walking around the gardens outside of the front of the Elizabethan manor but there wasn’t too much to see given the time of year.
Next stop we were off to the Headland Hotel in Newquay for a Festive Afternoon Tea!!