We have been very lucky to be invited to visit Wheal Martyn China Clay Museum and Country Park.
Even though I grew up just a couple of miles from the centre, I have never been before so was very exited, and we was even more lucky to have such beautiful weather for this time of year!
As well as spending the day discovering Wheal Martyn's treasures, we were exited to attend the Claylets group.
This is a new session, held from 11am-12pm on the last Thursday of each month.
The Claylets is held in the very pretty tearoom which is open to the public, not just those visiting the museum and park.
This is a new group (the session we attended was only their second) and was rather quiet, but I'm sure once word of mouth gets around it will become much busier. We look forward to attending again and the outside adventures they have planned for later in the year.
It was a fantastic hour, and the Zebra had so much fun! Each month there is a theme which links into Wheal Martyn - this one was all about diggers and big machines. There was a huge wooden train set to play with, lots of different pictures to colour in and books about trucks and tractors. The craft activity was glueing and sticking big digger wheels, and during music time we obviously had a sing-song to 'The wheels on the bus'!
After lots of fun with the Claylets, we stayed in the tea room to refuel with some lunch. The food all looks delicious and is homemade and locally sourced where possible.
The children's lunch was a box meal and it was fantastic to see a big, fresh sandwich brought out with it. Inside was also a pack of colourful molding clay, pencils and picture to colour - perfect to distract the Zebra while I tried to sneakily eat my cake without sharing...
With our tummies full it was time to explore the museum! I was a bit skeptical about what to expect, only because Wheal Martyn has never been particularly advertised as a children's attraction...
However, the Zebra found lots of fun bits to keep her happy and entertained, while I was able to read and learn more about the past and present world of China Clay.
I can remember watching the big ships docked in Charlestown being filled with clay, and you can't miss the big sky tips all around the clay villages, so it was great to finally learn a lot more about St Austells heritage and involvement in the China Clay industry.
There was lots to look at - displays, posters and models - all which was really interesting for me and fun for the Zebra!
And look what we found half way around - a lovely craft station set up for children!! We spent a lovely time glueing and colouring a spring time butterfly.
As well as the exhibits, there are two films to watch. The first one was all about the life of a child many years ago in the pits, and the second was much more up to date showing all the big machines and modern technologies involved.
With the sun shining and a much better understanding of China clay, it was time to get outside and explore the grounds and outside sections.
There are lots of beautiful spots everywhere we turned, and with benches and tables along the way we can't wait to return with a picnic in the summer.
The centre is a former clay works and the old buildings have all been used, restored or left open to explore. Behind the museum sits the old mountain created from the old works.
Water plays a very important part in China clay production and there are two fully working water wheels in the grounds. They are both mesmerising and we had great fun watching them.
A short walk up from the museum is a seris of old buildings housing more exhibits, old cars and big machines.
Up in the roof of one of the buildings is a very spooky restoration, made even more eery by the working sounds being played.
This is an old clay works and as such was not built with pushchairs in mind - The majority of the country park is buggy friendly but some routes would be a little challenging!
As we left the building behind, we climbed up the hill and found these beautiful China Clay works. It was so interesting to follow the production journey, all with some breathtaking views!
As the clay adventure comes to an end, the country paths continue. The woods here are picturesque and the Zebra was happy to run around the paths and trees, right to the very top - stoping only to smell the flowers and talk to the birds.
Once we had climbed to the peak of the hill, (including a tunnel through the ground!) there is a viewing station looking out on a working clay pit. We could hear the water blasting and watch the trucks winding up and down the pit. A fantastic way to end the experience.
We will be returning again to Wheal Martyn, for both the Claylets group and the country park and can highly recommend both!
Admission to the park includes 12 months free re-entry so is fantastic value for me money!
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