Britain’s best sculpture gardens and trails

Eleven great places to see 3D art in the countryside

United Kingdom, England, Yorkshire, Wakefield, YSP Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Jaume Plensa sculpture
DFHNPR Sculpture 'Three Jackdaws on a Chimney' by Terence Coventry overlooking the Cornish coast at Coverack
The Terence Coventry Sculpture Park lies on the coast path a few minutes’ walk from Coverack. Just wander in – it’s free. Picture: Alamy

1. Terence Coventry Sculpture Park, Cornwall

Magnificently situated in three cliff top meadows beside the coastal path near Coverack, Cornwall, teh late Terence Coventry’s work celebrates his life as an artist who worked also as a pig farmer. Animals, including bulls and birds, feature strongly in his joyful work.

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• Open daily. Free entrance.

AM7N50 Outdoor garden rabbit sculpture in Hannah Peschar gallery Ockley Surrey England UK
The work on display at the Hannah Peschar garden changes regularly. Picture: Alamy

2. The Hannah Peschar Sculpture Garden, Surrey

This lush and ethereal sculpture garden near Cranleigh hosts contemporary work by British and international artists. The outstanding landscape create a magical backdrop where planting, light, water, and sound all play their part in the stunning exhibition of sculptural works.

• Opening times vary – check before travelling. Adult entrance £10.

BAYRP2 UK Gloucestershire Forest of Dean Sculpture Park Cathedral by Kevin Atherton 1986 suspended stained glass panel
Kevin Atherton’s <em>Cathedral</em> is one of the works on the 4.5 mile Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail. Picture: Alamy

3. Forest of Dean Sculpture Trail, Gloucestershire

Established in 1968 this pioneering trail of permanent and temporary sculptures celebrates the spirit of the Forest of Dean. Each sculpture is situated carefully; to be chanced upon, investigated and considered in relationship with the sylvan landscape around it.

• Open daily, dawn until dusk. Entrance free.

DA8A23 Sculptures in the garden of the Barbara Hepworth museum, St.Ives, Cornwall, UK. Image shot 2013. Exact date unknown.
Barbara Hepworth’s garden is a peaceful green haven in bustling St Ives. Picture: Alamy

4. Barbara Hepworth Museum and Sculpture Garden, Cornwall

Stepping from the narrow lanes of St Ives fishing village into the walled sanctuary of Barbara Hepworth’s secret sculpture garden and studio is a magical experience. Hepworth’s friend, composer Priaulx Rainier, designed the garden and Hepworth herself sited many of the bronzes. Occasional music performances in the garden are extra special.

• Open daily, 10am to 5.20pm. Adult entry £7.70.

ER39NT A sculpture by Henry Moore at the Henry Moore Foundation in Perry Green, Hertfordshire.
The Henry Moore Gardens feature 20 monumental bronzes. Picture: Alamy

5. Henry Moore Studios and Gardens, Hertfordshire

Allow plenty of time to visit the home Henry and Irina Moore at Perry Green. The celebrated sculptor and his wife moved to the countryside after their London home was damaged by the Blitz in 1940. Explore the house and gardens, created by Irina, and discover Henry’s work in grassy fields which can get muddy in wet weather; wellies are advised!

• Open Wednesdays to Sundays and bank holiday Mondays, 11am to 5pm, until 28 October, 2018. Adult entry £14.

ANJ9BR Tilberthwaite Glen, Cumbria
Andy Goldsworthy’s Tilbersthwaite Touchstone Fold is near Coniston. Picture: Alamy

6. Andy Goldsworthy Sheepfolds, Cumbria

Sheepfolds is Cumbria County Council’s countywide sculpture project created by Andy Goldsworthy who worked with existing sheepfolds in disrepair and at sites where they no longer existed. His structures sometimes enclose boulders, sometimes stone cones, many have artworks built into the walls. Visit sheepfoldscumbria.co.uk for locations of Goldsworthy’s 46 completed sheepfolds.

• Open daily. Entry free.

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Hannah Bennett’s own ceramic sculptures mingle with work by other artsts. PIcture: Hannah Bennett

7. Hannah Bennett Sculpture Garden, Derbyshire

Sculptor Hannah Bennett has created a relaxed garden of works by leading artists in the gentle surroundings of her home in the village of Eyam. Sculptures sit cheek by jowl with vegetables and all profits go to the Neo Natal Unit at chesterfield Royal Infirmary.

• The garden opens on 19 May from 3pm to 5pm. Thereafter, it opens on Thursdays and Fridays, from 10am to 3pm, Saturdays from 11am to 5pm, and at other times by appointment only; until October. Entry £2.

B4BPYC Lady Hare Sculpture by Sophie Ryder at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Bretton, West Yorkshire.. Image shot 09/2008. Exact date unknown.
Picture: Alamy

8. Yorkshire Sculpture Park

This awesome open air gallery extends across 500 acres and exhibits the work of acclaimed international artists with the mission to ‘challenge, inspire, inform and delight’. With indoor galleries, a restaurant and cafe too, this is a great day out.Sculptures on display in 2018 include works by Ai Weiwei, Elizabeth Frink, Andy Goldsworthy, Anthony Caro and Barbara Hepworth.

• Open daily, 10am to 6pm. Entry free; parking charges apply. 

BT34G0 The Sir Antony Gormley art installation Another Place  located on Crosby Beach, part of the Sefton Coast, within the Liverpool City Region of the UK
Antony Gormley cast the 100 statues from his own body. Picture: Alamy

9 Another Place, Sefton

Sir Antony Gormley’s meditation on emigration is a spectacular experience; 100 naked iron men washed by the tide stare out to sea along three kilometres of the sandy Sefton shore. This major cultural attraction appears quite different depending on the state of the tide and the light.

• Open daily. Entry free.

CTR8EP Simon O'Rourke's 'The Giant Hand Of Vyrnwy' statue on July 27, 2012 at Lake Vyrnwy, Wales.
Simon O’Rourke’s The Giant Hand Of Vyrnwy.<strong> </strong>Picture: Alamy

10 Lake Vrynwy Sculpture Trail

A feat of Victorian engineering, Lake Vrynwy reservoir at the edge of Snowdonia was initiated in 1878 to supply the booming city of Liverpool, 64 miles away with clean fresh water. Now also an RSPB reserve, the lake hosts an award winning sculpture trail featuring much wildlife.

• Open daily. Entry free.

CEMYJR Imagine an Island - sandstone sculpture by Louise Walsh at Lough MacNean Upper, near Blacklion, Ireland. Editorial use only.. Image shot 2011. Exact date unknown.
Picture: Alamy

11. Lough Macnean Sculpture Trail, Enniskillen

Bordered by the counties of Fermanagh, Leitrim and Cavan, the 42 mile sculpture trail created by Irish artists at Lough Macnean celebrates the history and culture of the local communities including the religious divide, emigration and famine. You can walk or cycle the route.

• Open daily. Entry free.

Words from…

Writer and travel journalist Brigid Benson.

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Main picture (top): Yorkshire Sculpture Park (see 8, below).