This weekend we visited the National Trust’s Biddulph Grange Garden. This National Trust property is quite well hidden on the north side of Stoke and while it is certainly worth a visit the journey for us went through what must be one of the most severely run-down areas of the UK. Of-course this did not put us off the visit but it did frame our visit to what is an extremely plush arrangement of gardens. Now as you can expect a January day in Staffordshire is never going to really present the best conditions and while it was dry it was also grey and slightly gloomy. It didn’t dampen our spirits too much, but it does mean a first visit can be marred by the weather.
So what did Biddulph Grange hold in the gloom of the early 2019 winter. Firstly, this is not a massive place, so most, if not all of it can be seen in 2hr visit (not accounting for a pitstop in the café). It has 4 distinct areas: a Chinese Garden, a lake (they call it a lake – it’s a pond, although slightly larger than their other ponds) below the house with steps and topiary, a long straight walk (think long tree lined mall) – alongside which is very thin wood with balancing games for kids of all ages ;o) and a kitchen garden. It is notable that the house itself is private and so unlike many National Trust places, not something you can visit.
We explored 3 of the 4 main areas, but not the kitchen garden mainly because this would not have been much to see in January.
Our first two areas were the (1) ‘lake’ and topiary and (2) China garden. These were both very interesting if not a little congested, even on a winter’s day. I do have to say though, if I was a child then it has the absolute best arrangement of bushes, hedges, paths, nooks and crannies for a brilliant game of hide-and-seek. There are plenty of seats and paths lead in all directions with a lot of interconnecting walkways. There are also buildings, tunnels in rock, archways, caves all of which act as methods of visiting and leaving different parts of these 2 garden areas. There is also a look out turret, path if you can find it…although, once you ascent this to the top it is spoilt by a tall and over grown holly tree blocking what must have been an impressive way to look down on the China garden area.
The last of the three garden areas we visited was the ‘long walk’. This long straight walk provides a good view back down to the house once you reach the top but…it is a long wahy to reach a not a lot. At the top there is a sort of hidden path…(you can miss it) which leads back down the way you have come alongside the straight path. You wouldn’t know it was there from the ‘long walk’. On the wooded path is all manner of balancing objects made out of stumps, branches and rope. These areas are fairly typical at National Trust places but are always good fun, even for overweight daddies.
Finally, the only other place we went to was the café. Standard NT fare, delicious sandwiches, the most delicious jacket potatoes and as ever not enough room to seat people. We only just managed to get a seat on a gloomy winters day in January. Also note there is not much room outside for summer visits – virtually none.
In summary: very much worth a visit (even in winter), I expect that in summer it would be stunning. Although I also guess it would be hideously congested and unable to cope with many more visitors. It is great for kids and adults to explore and the variety of areas really maintains the interest, but it will not take too long. I think if you have physical impairment the unwieldly steps, corners, turns and levels as well as the lack of room could be a real problem…so be prepared if you are thinking about taking it on. It certainly isn’t a place for more than half a day…well not for us and certainly not for Bugs or Boo, although for once they didn’t get bored.
To see our other photos from our visit to Biddulph Grange Garden make sure you visit our album on Facebook or why not take a look at our other National Trust posts…