The Forbidden Corner claims to be the “strangest place in the world”. And it certainly is an oddity – a North Yorkshire garden transformed by the fertile imagination of architect Malcolm Tempest into a fantasy land where you encounter visions, illusions and puzzles at every turn.
You won’t be given a map on arrival, just a leaflet in rhyme to suggest clues to what you might find
along your way.
Once you’ve passed the giant pointing tree (right) and entered the mad domain through a gaping stone mouth and down the throat of a stone stegosaurus, you are plunged into a maze of pathways, towers, narrow walls and twisting staircases.
Paths run through the woods, passing sculptures and running water. A stone griffin’s head floats in a walled pool; beyond, stepping stones wind along a stream. Turn the corner, and there’s the façade of a Roman temple, complete with guards.
An Aquatic wonderland
There’s a watery surprise before you can enter the temple, and then you are plunged into near darkness. In this underworld, where snakes guard the door, giants loom from the gloom and Pluto rules from a fiery pool. Next, you may find yourself climbing an 18th-century staircase or following a medieval tunnel.
The beauty is that you make a new choice at every step, wondering – fearing – what might unfold before you. Next, a cone of glass illuminates a hall with seven doors, where a giant mousetrap heralds giant mice and an even bigger cat.
Views over the dales
There are other mysterious gems to be found away from the enclosed world of the main grotto. A woodland walk takes you through a small building that contains a silver swan by a pool, before you reach the oasis of the walled herb garden.
In its centre is the Froggy Fountain, which is animated to music every 15 minutes,
when it unleashes a few extra jets of water at unwary visitors.
On the other side of the estate, you’ll find a low maze and a terrace with majestic views over Coverdale – the perfect antidote to the garden of puzzles. It’s ideal for adventurous and imaginative children – and adults. Just be prepared to be scared (in the nicest way) and to get a little wet.
HOW TO GET THERE
The Forbidden Corner, in North Yorkshire, is on the minor road from Middleham to Kettlewell, two miles east of Middleham and four miles south of Leyburn.
FIND OUT MORE
The Forbidden Corner
Tupgill Park Estate,
Leyburn DL8 4TJ
Open daily 1 Apr-31 Oct, Mon-Sat noon-6pm; Sun (inc Nov-Christmas) and bank holidays 10am-6pm. Adults: £10, senior citizens £9, children £8, family £34, under 4s free.
Note: There is no admission at the gate. All tickets must be booked in advance, online or by phone. Tickets are also available on the day of visit from Leyburn Tourist Information Centre.
Carlton-in-Coverdale DL8 4BB
A traditional country pub with a renowned restaurant and attractive accommodation.
THE BLUE LION
East Witton DL8 4SN
in a traditional setting.
Leyburn DL8 4ET
Bolton Castle gives a vivid impression of medieval life.
Main photo: Getty