This tour starts in Harrogate [Yorkshire] visiting Yorkshire gardens for three and half days and it then makes its way via more gardens to Hawkshead in the Lake District where we stay until the tour ends at Carnforth [Lancashire] railway station. The first part of the tour stays in the fine old spa town of Harrogate at The Studley Hotel. For the next three nights we shall be based in the quaint old village of Hawkshead in Cumbria staying at Ann Tyson’s cottage Guest House.
Those that wish may take this tour as one of two separate short ones:-
Yorkshire gardens [3½ days costing £750]. This tour starts and finishes in Harrogate.
Lake District gardens [4 days costing £800]. This tour starts and finishes at Carnforth. 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 and the Italianate gardens of Holker Hall. At Holehird, the Lakeland Horticultural Society garden, and at many small private gardens there will be a wealth of late spring and early summer flowers.
The Cost of this tour is £1490 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
Alternatively, you may come for just the first three and a half days for a tour of Yorkshire Gardens (£750) or join us on the last four days for a tour of Lake District gardens (£800).
The base for the first second and third days of this tour is the fine old spa town of Harrogate where we stay at The Studley Hotel For the fourth fifth and sixth nights of the tour we shall be staying in the quaint old village of Hawkshead Hawkshead in Cumbria.
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 a 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 hard to believe that this wilderness is only two miles from the centre of a major city. We shall return to Harrogate by 6pm. Valley Gardens, Harrogate
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. After this we drive a short distance to one of the most impressive gardens in Yorkshire at Newby Hall. 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 Nidd, there is a long sweep of grass connecting the two with wide herbaceous borders each side. There are numerous small ‘compartment’ gardens leading off on either side and a curved 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 tor tea arriving back in Harrogate by about 5.30pm.
We leave the hotel at 9am to drive to Dacre Banks in Nidderdale to visit Low Hall, the home of Mrs. Pamela Holliday. It is a romantic walled garden on different levels complementing a historic C17 house. There are rhododendrons, azalias and spring bulbs around a tranquil water garden as well as a rose pergola under-planted with auriculas. After coffee we move a short distance to Woodlands Cottage in Summerbridge belonging to Mr. and Mrs. Starky. It is a one acre country garden with herbaceous borders, woodland rockery, a wildflower meadow as well as a herb garden and productive fruit and vegetable garden. From here we drive a short distance to Pately Bridge, a charming small town on a slope beside the River Nidd, for lunch and after that on to Birstwith Hall, the home of Sir James and Lady Jennifer Aykroyd. The gardens were created by their family in the 1920s with formal park and landscaped gardens. There are 4 acres which include a balustraded terrace, ornamental orchard, extensive lawns, picturesque stream, large pond and a Victorian greenhouse. We should be back in Harrogate by 5.30pm.
Those taking only the Yorkshire part of the tour will return to Harrogate with our driver. Those taking the Lake District part can get a taxi from Carnforth to either Sizergh Castle or Hawkshead. The train Journey from London takes about 3.5 hours
After lunch we shall be collected by our Lake District driver who will drive us 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 into the southern part of the lake District and 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
Today there will be time to explore the village of Hawkshead . You might look in at the Church, which has interesting documentation about woolen shrouds or attend the morning service. Other intersting sites are the Grammar school and perhaps the Beatrix Potter gallery. There are a lot of gift and out-door clothing shops as well. We shall leave from the car park at 11.30am and drive south to Holker Hall, the home of Lord and Lady Cavendish. This stunning garden has elements of the formal, the Italinate and informal plantings of old Rhododendrons. It also holds the National Collection of Styracaceae and is the home of the Great Holker Lime. At 7.9 meters in girth it is one of “Britain’s 50 Great Trees”. We shall have lunch and tea here and on the way back to Hawkshead call in at Windy Hall in Windermere belonging to Diane and David Kinsman. Here are four acres of hillside which receive several feet of rain annually which is not unusual in this part of Britain.
Slate slab wall and Church, Hawkshead
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 Sizergh Castle and Lower Rowell Farm and Cottage where we have tea with Julie Welton before setting off to Carnforth railway station where the tour ends at about 5pm. [This station was the setting for the 1945 British film “A Brief Encounter” starring Celia Johnson and Trevor Howard It has a museum devoted to that film as well as a general Railway museum.]
Carnforth is a major junction so trains can be taken to anywhere, London or even Glasgow [Rennie Mackintosh and the Burrell collection] and Edinburgh.
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