This tour begins and ends at The Studley Hotel in Harrogate. On the first day we proceed north-west to cross the Pennine Hills to stay in Beatrix Potter’s quaint old village of Hawkshead in the Southern Lake District. In Yorkshire we visit one of the finest of English gardens at Newby Hall near Ripon as well as Harlow Carr gardens belonging to the Royal Horticultural Societyand smaller gardens like the late the late Sibyl Spencer’s renowned Adel garden. The Valley Gardens, Harrogate
The English Lakes are renowned for their scenery, glorious at all times of year but spectacular in the spring and autumn. Rhododendrons thrive on the rocky outcrops and in the shade of ancient trees. Clematis montana and wisteria festoon the stone cottages.
In the Lake District this tour stays at Ann Tyson’s Cottage Guest House and visits famous gardens such as the fourteenth century Sizergh Castle, Levens Hall with its original sixteenth century topiary, the fine old garden of Dalemain and the Italianate gardens of Holker Hall. At Holehird, the Lakeland Horticultural Society garden, many small private gardens there will be a wealth of late spring and early summer flowers.
The Cost of this tour is £1390 which includes B&B but not evening meal. Included is transport to the gardens, garden entrance fees, and optional evening power point talks.
Flora’s small group tours typically have 5-7 of us in a comfortable 8 seater vehicle. Dr Sommerville plans and guides all tours, enthusiastically describing the plants, scenery and architecture which we encounter.
‘We have enjoyed our “holiday” immensely. Would not have been as fun without your personality, Barbara, to guide us!
The gardens were all that we had hoped and more. However, what should always make the time special are good times and good friends―it was memorable!
keep in touch with us.,
― Debra and Kathy on the Lake District Tour
The base for the first and last part of this tour is the fine old spa town of Harrogate where we stay at The Studley Hotel For the second, third and fourth nights of the tour we shall be staying in the quaint old village of Hawkshead in Cumbria.
We leave the Studley Hotel at 9am with our luggage and visit Beacon Hill House, near Ilkley belonging to Mr. & Mrs. H. Boyle. This 7 acre moorland ‘intake’ is on a steep slope in Wharfedale and has a gorgeous spring garden with Rhododendrons, Magnolias and bulbs. It has a 19C fernery and many unusual mature trees planted in the mid 1800s onwards. We have an early lunch at Bolton Abbey in the Old Post Office cafe close to the River Wharfe and the ruins of Bolton Priory. This is an idyllic spot with breath-taking scenery. Bolton Priory ruins and the river Wharfe, Yorkshire
In the afternoon we drive west over the Pennine Hills to Cumbria where we visit Sizergh Castle , a 700 year-old house run by the National Trust. It has a fine limestone rockery, a terrace and lake and the medieval house, still lived in by the Strickland family, is well worth a visit. After tea there we drive on skirting the shores of Lake Windermere in the southern part of the lake District and arrive at the quaint village of Hawkshead associated with the poet William Wordsworth and, more recently, the writer and painter Beatrix Potter. We are staying in Ann Tyson’s Cottage Guest House which was the boyhood home of Wordsworth when he attended the nearby grammar school. Many of Beatrix Potter’s original illustrations for her children’s books are displayed in the building which features as the old shop in several of them. We should reach Hawkshead by 5.30pm and there are plenty of places to choose from for the evening meal.
Today we leave the guest house at 9am to visit Stagshaw gardens on the bank of Lake Windermere. It is owned by the National Trust and will have some stunning trees in flower with a back drop of the Lake. Created by Cubby Acland, a former National Trust land agent in 1957, the garden has an outstanding collection of rhododendrons, camellias and azaleas, as well as many unusual trees and plants. From here we go on towards Windermere to visit Holhird gardens run by the Lakeland Horticultural Society where we have a guided tour at 11am. There will be plenty of colour set on a steep slope with a backdrop of Lake Windermere and the Langdale Pikes which might have snow on their tops. This garden has four National Collections - Astilbe, Meconopsis, Daboecia, and Polystichum. It also has a hot drinks machine for coffee! We shall have a light lunch at Low Fell West in the Winster valley belonging to Barbie and John Handley. This is an interesting garden painstakingly created on natural out-crops of bed rock. Finally we visit two small private gardens in the Lyth valley lying very close together- Low and Middle Blakebank and then take the Bowness car Ferry across Lake Windermere to reach Hawkshead via Beatrix Potter’s home village of Sawrey. Meconopsis and view of Lake Windermere and the distant Langdale Pikes from Holhird Gardens
We leave with our luggage at 9.30am and drive to Levens Hall where we have lunch. The family have lived in this superb Elizabethan house with its medieval pele tower since 1590 and it is one of the finest stately homes in south Cumbria. Here there is unique 17C yew topiary, the only example in England to have survived the ‘English Landscape Garden’ fashion. The old trees are still clipped in their original shapes but are now huge. There is a portrait in the house of Guillaume Beaumont, the French designer of the original garden. After lunch we visit Orchard Cottage followed by Lower Rowell Farm and Cottage where we have tea with Julie Welton before setting off back to Harrogate. We may pause at Ilkley, a 19C spa town but, unlike Harrogate’s mineral waters it boasts pure cold spring water from Ilkley Moor. ‘The cure’ depended on a cold plunge bath and the half mile walk up a steep hill to get there. Once donkeys were introduced for 6d a trip, the cure became less effective. We should arrive at Studley Hotel about 6pm. Valley Gardens, Harrogate
At 9.30am we are met at the hotel by a blue badge guide who takes us on an hour’s tour of the historic town centre and a quick visit to the pump room museum. At 10.30am we visit Harlow Carr gardens founded in 1946 by the Northern Horticultural Society as a botanical garden to grow plants suited to the cooler conditions of the north of England. It was taken over in 2001 by the Royal Horticultural Society. It has 26 acres made up of mature woodland, a stream and small lake. There are a wide variety of beds, alpine houses, the Bramwell Learning Centre and a plant and book shop. We have lunch there and in the afternoon visit some smaller private gardens. York Gate garden at Adel near Leeds created by the Spencer family during the second half of the twentieth century and now owned and managed by Perennial, the UK’s only charity dedicated to helping people working in horticulture. It is a garden of immense style and craftsmanship, widely recognised as one of the most innovative small gardens of the period. We shall then visit The Hollies, a city park on the edge of the open country north of Leeds. It has some interesting planting on the upper level and then plunges down a steep Rhododendron covered slope to a fast flowing stream. It is difficult to appreciate that this wilderness is only two miles from the centre of a major city.
We shall return to Harrogate by 6pm.
We leave the hotel at 9.15 for a 30 minute drive to Ripon Cathedral founded in the seventh century. The present medieval building is on the site of the stone church built at that time and beneath the crossing there is still the original seventh-century crypt and in the choir stalls many beautifully carved misericords, the best in Britain. Those that wish can join the sung Eucharist service which starts at 10.30am.
After this we drive a short distance to one of the most impressive gardens in Yorkshire at Newby Hall where we have lunch. This is the home of Mr. & Mrs. Richard Compton and the house, built in 1690, was designed by Sir Christopher Wren and Robert Adam. Built on a rise above the river Ure, there is a long sweep of grass connecting house and river with wide herbaceous borders each side.There are numerous small ‘compartment’ gardens leading off on either side and a curved wisteria pergola. There is a huge collection of Rhododendrons flowering in every shade from pure whites through softer pastels to bright pinks, vivid reds and rich purples. We shall have lunch here and move on about 4pm to a small private garden for tea arriving back in Harrogate by about 5.30pm.
This is the end of the tour but if you prefer to stay at Studley Hotel for the night, the cost is not included in the tour price.
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