London 2012: Eden Project balloon carries flame in Olympic Torch Relay

Eden's rainforest balloon
Image caption The Olympic torch will take a trip across the rainforest biome at the Eden Project

The Olympic torch will take to the air in a balloon at Cornwall's Eden Project after the UK relay officially starts at Land's End.

The helium balloon used by Eden gardeners to reach the top of the rainforest biome has been chosen as a unique mode of transport for the relay.

The torch will be taken on a tour of 20 towns and villages in Cornwall, going past St Michael's Mount en route.

The relay starts on Saturday 19 May 2012.

Gaynor Coley, Managing Director of the Eden Project, said: "The Olympic flame is designed to spread the message of peace, unity and friendship so it will be a very special day for all of us in our beautiful county.

Eden's balloon has already been used by the singer KT Tunstall, as part of the attraction's 10th birthday celebrations earlier this year.

There will be a 70-day tour of the UK before the torch arrives at London's Olympic stadium for the opening ceremony on 27 July.

The torch will stop off in Penzance, Helston and Truro, as well as Cornish villages including Bugle and Stenalees, near St Austell.

North Cornwall disappointment

North Cornwall will miss out on a visit from the historic Olympic torch.

Launceston, Camelford and Wadebridge are not on the list of towns that will be visited. Redruth and Camborne, along with Hayle and St Ives will also miss out.

Stephen Knighley, the Wadebridge town mayor, said: "Wadebridge is a vibrant town, a busy little community. I feel sorry for the children and people who would have relished the opportunity to see it go through. It's historic. It will only happen once in our lifetimes."

Malcolm Bell, from Visit Cornwall, said: "The great thing about the route is that we have the iconic start at Land's End, and the opportunity to showcase places like St Michael's Mount.

"But I am equally delighted for villages like Bugle and Stenalees. It will be a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity for villagers to celebrate such a worldwide event."

One of the busiest towns in the lead up to the Olympics will be Falmouth.

The town succeeded in its bid to host a prestigious pre-Olympic Finn Class sailing event before London 2012.

About 200 international competitors will attend, with many expected to stay on during their Olympic preparations.

Cornish sailor Ben Ainslie, who has previously won four Olympic medals, learned to sail in the waters around Falmouth and will be returning home for the Finn Festival.

"It fills me with great pride that Cornwall will get to show off her excellent sailing facilities, I'm looking forward to competing in May 2012," he said.

In August, the Olympic torch was taken to Cornwall to inspire more people to apply to carry it in the pre-games relay.

Council leader Alec Robertson said: "Millions of people already visit Cornwall every year, attracted by the opportunity to learn about our ancient past, with its industrial heritage, at the same time as enjoying our wonderful beaches, gardens and coastal walks, a marvellous array of festivals, arts and cultural events and our restaurants offering the fresh Cornish produce.

"The decision to choose Cornwall as the starting point for the 2012 celebrations offers us a wonderful opportunity to showcase the very best we have to offer and it is an opportunity that we will grasp with both hands."

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