Last week Rob and I stayed at a lovely Bed and Breakfast in Bell Busk, Yorkshire. It’s called The Green Grove Country House, and even though we were there for just two nights it did us so much good to just get away and enjoy a bit of luxury.
We stayed in the nicest room I have ever been in; The Littondale which came with views over the River Aire, a gorgeous four-poster bed and the biggest walk in shower I have ever seen. That wonderful room, plus a breakfast that offered every option under the sun and kept us full until tea time means that I can’t recommend this place enough if you ever fancy a mini-break in beautiful Yorkshire.
We planned a couple of outings for our break and one of the places I was most excited to see was the Forbidden Corner in Leyburn. Friends of ours went to visit in April and ever since they told us about it I wanted to go myself.
The Forbidden Corner is four aches of country house gardens that have been turned into a whimsical maze full of hidden doors, follies, fountains and surprises. You are given a leaflet with photos of things to discover, but in no particular order and you then get to set off to try and find them all. Of course you could just ignore the leaflet and wander around at your own whim, but if someone hands me a tick sheet I get very excited, so I wandered around like a tourist in a capital, constantly opening and closing the leaflet until by the end of the day it was very tattered and worn.
Now we discovered a little bit late that you are supposed to book your tickets in advance because they limit the number of people in the gardens so that there is enough room to explore comfortably. We decided to turn up anyway and hope that there will be some space. When we got there at 12pm they said they were fully booked until 3pm but if we waited 20 minutes they might be able to let us in if people who had pre-booked failed to show.
We wandered the grounds outside of the maze and stretched our legs after our long drive which was nice. When we went back to the admission desk they said there was room for us and we got to go in. Wahoo!
I loved it! The place is landscaped so well and there are so many silly, scary or pretty things to discover.I am being selective with the photos I show here because the joy of the place is discovering things and really the less you know about what’s coming the better.
We started walking through a wooded area but a few turns to the left took us to a walled garden with tall green hedges and creatures lurking in the shadows. Then we ended up on a long track dodging rocks that liked to squirt people as they pass by. At the end of the track was a small thatched cottage and inside that…no, I won’t spoil it.
But that is what the Forbidden Corner is like, you move from tower ruins to haunted house to stepping stones, to a hedge maze, to a herb garden. It felt like walking through Wonderland.
We easily spent over two hours wandering and if you were there with children I imagine it would be easy to spend the whole day there, as some of the kids we saw wanted to do the same parts over and over again. Plus there was a cafe where you could stop for some lunch before going in for a second round. Not to mention a tempting gift shop, there is always a tempting gift shop!
Some parts of The Forbidden Corner are scary; ghosts, skulls, monsters, creepy noises, even the Devil makes an appearance. So be warned some parts are best avoided by little ones who don’t like to be scared. But you can quickly tell if things are going to get scary and you can easily skip the creepy places if you want to.
Other parts though were just plain pretty. One corner was covered in lavendar and the scent was delicious and this coned ceiling made out of big chunks of glass is beautiful.
It also isn’t a pram friendly place so I would suggest it is a day out better suited to older children rather than babies and toddlers. There were plenty of families there and as well as big kids like us. Some places got a little bit crowded but most of the time we could move around pretty easily and we were there at probably the busiest time of the year right in the middle of the summer holidays.
I think if I was ever lucky enough to own a country house with extensive gardens I would make my own forbidden corner but mine would have a carousel…and some fairies. Until that day, I guess I will just have to make do with repeat visits to The Forbidden Corner.