Review of The Forbidden Corner, an unusual family attraction in North Yorkshire
Looking for an unusual family day out? How about the strangest place in the world?
At least that’s what the Forbidden Corner in Middleham, North Yorkshire, claims to be.
The four-acre garden on the eastern edge of the Yorkshire Dales, about a couple of hours away from the East Riding, was built as a private folly by owner Colin Armstrong.
It was opened to the public after a group of students from the University of Hull heard about the project and travelled to the garden in July 1993, enjoying it immensely despite its then unfinished state.
Now, the Forbidden Corner welcomes thousands of visitors annually and me, my husband and our son were among them this year.
So what exactly is strange about the garden? Well, there is more to enjoy than flora and fauna.
After entering with our pre-booked tickets – entry is by advance purchase only, you can’t just turn up on the day – we came face to face with a giant carving of a man made out of the trunk of a tree.
The Forbidden Corner, Tupgill Park Estate, Coverham, Middleham, North Yorkshire, DL8 4TJ.The nearest train stations are Northallerton and Darlington and bus services run to Leyburn, roughly 5 miles from the Forbidden Corner. If using a sat-nav, the postcode is DL8 4TQ.Open: Open Sundays 10am to dusk until Christmas. On Sunday, December 1, 8, 15 and 22 Father Christmas will be at The Forbidden Corner to say hello to all the children that visit.Prices: Admission is by pre-booked tickets only. Adults £11, senior citizens £10, children aged four to 15 £9, children under four free. Family ticket (two adults and two children) £38.Call: 01969 640638
His long fingers pointed towards the entrance to the garden and we headed in through the iron gate.
Hearing a few shrieks, screams and laughs from others further in, we inched forward with some trepidation aware that there could be a surprise around every corner.
The first bit to explore was a brick tower made into the shape of a face with tongue hanging out, inviting explorers to scramble inside.
My wary boys stayed back, edging me forward far enough until I almost leapt in the air at the loud noise my movement had triggered.
I won’t spoil it for you – it wouldn’t be the same if you knew what was coming – but it was funny and gross at the same time and offered a great “taste” of what else was in store.
In fact, my top tip would be to try to avoid getting into conversation with other visitors as you make your way round as, on our visit, we found that in their excitement, people couldn’t wait to fill you in on what they had discovered when it is much better to find out for yourself.
There are no maps, set routes or signposts, so guests are free to explore as they wish and many, like us, seem to spend hours finding new and exciting things.
Our only guide to discovering how much of the garden we had actually seen was a leaflet with various landmarks on it but we didn’t tick them all off despite spending almost a whole day there.
We also deliberately avoided a couple of areas as we thought they might be a bit too much for our four-year-old, Kasper.
There is nothing totally terrifying but one or two places are quite dark and scary.
Also be prepared for one or two soakings – you won’t be drenched, but it’s not the place to put your best coat on for.
Aside from the scares, mysteries and delights, the garden is also beautifully maintained and planted, as is Tupgill Park, where the garden is based.
In the park, also home to a picnic area and parking, is a stunning walled herb garden with more than 100 different varieties on display.
There is also a shop and café so you could easily spend the whole day there.
We will certainly make a return visit as there is so much to see and do and maybe next time we’ll be a bit braver and see everything the strangest place in the world has to offer.