The Old Mill Herbary

The Old Mill Herbary

Helland Bridge, Bodmin, PL30 4QR
Tel: (01208) 841206

Water garden in a semi-wild valley

The Old Mill Herbary is located in an idyllic valley setting, with about three acres of semi-wild terraced gardens on a steep south facing bank. There are mature woodland walks interspersed with several islands and bridges alongside the unspoilt River Camel.

The mini arboretum of approximately 1.25 acres, is planted with over 40 named unusual trees, in a small level meadow adjoining Helland Bridge, which is listed in "The Patent Rolls" of 1381.

Finished c.1415, Helland is one of the best 14th century medieval bridges in Cornwall, notable for its four pointed arches springing from water level, and rounded arch for leat. In the Great Flood of 16th July 1847, caused by a waterspout on Davidstow Moor, the ensuing flood water sped down the Camel valley some 12-18 feet high, and all the bridges, with the exception of Helland Bridge and Wadebridge were swept away.

Research has established that Helland Bridge, with its adjacent water mills, were part of the Colquite Estate and are mentioned as early as 1585, when the rent was two shillings per annum. There was a hop yard of one acre here in September 1653, with an orchard and herb garden in August 1775.

The Mill was fed by the leat with help from the river in summer. Signs of this are still evident by the large stones in the river at the top of the woodland islands. The mill was powered by an undershot wheel and was used for grinding corn and sawing wood.

This was in use until around 1934, being demolished approximately 1939, but various relics and several large granite "clapper" stones, troughs and mushrooms have been found and may be seen, together with the large granite cider press, now a fountain.

The leat, fed by a natural spring, has been cleaned and restored, feeds natural bog and water gardens, passing under the renovated Granite Clapper Bridge. The many semi-wild gardens give home to an enormous variety of named planted displays of culinary, medicinal and aromatic herbs, unusual and rare species of wild flowers, shrubs, trees and climbers.

A gentle stroll along the terraced pathways of this semi-wild garden brings one to the woodland area, which in springtime is carpeted with wild daffodils, primroses, wood anemones, bluebells, and latter, many varieties of ferns.

Heading back towards the house which was built around 1820, along the lower path by the leat, brings one to the bog and water gardens. Here on a terrace can be found a well established camomile seat, whose spicy fragrance wafts aloft when sat upon.

On the patio is a large pond, stocked with a variety of water plants, there are herbs and plants for sale.


About three miles north of Bodmin.

Opening Times

10.00am - 5.00pm
Closed Wednesdays
April to September

Admission Free

Camel Valley Vineyard       Bodmin Steam Railway       Pencarrow House       The Camel Trail

Bodmin       Wadebridge