Having had a super busy time with Go Ape and Liverpool, we were up for taking it a bit easier. Well, we were initially going to Tatton Park for the Foodies Festival but changed our minds. So to make the most of our trip into Cheshire, we decided that taking it easy around the gardens and grounds was the choice for us.
You might remember that I posted last year about Autumn at Tatton Park. One of the great things about Tatton Park is that it changes so much through the seasons. This means that there is always something nice to see so you can make multiple visits throughout the year.
Summer is definitely a lovely time to have a relaxed wander there too. Especially when there is a popular event on!
Taking it easy at Tatton Park
If you live up Manchester way you are sure to have seen the plethora of adverts for the Foodies Festival here and there. We went last year and had a great time. This year we kind of planned to visit but with one thing and another (think unloading webpages) we didn’t manage to snag any two for one tickets. Deciding to stick with our plans, we headed to Tatton Park to see how much entry was on the door. To our surprise, they were mush more than we expected and opted to pop that money into the Freedom Fund rather than their pockets. This made the decision to have a gently stroll (as gentle and strolling as we can muster!) around the gardens and parkland.
Usually the garden has lots of people milling around, exploring the area and admiring the plants. But on Sunday, we were surprised to see that it was almost deserted. We were able to wander close to the fruit trees, lean over the ponds and take pictures with nobody in them. A rather strange experience if you have ever been to Tatton Park as it is a popular garden.
I don’t know whether they are missing a head gardener or are short of volunteers, but we have noticed over the last few times that some of the beds are less groomed than others and the poor glasshouse is falling to bits. It is a shame. I understand how expensive they are to restore, but Quarry Bank Mill has proven that it is possible.
Anyway, it is a small part of the garden so we had lots of other spaces to enjoy.
In gardening terminology, there are lots of ‘rooms’ and ‘surprises’ in the Tatton Park garden. This means that you get a different theme in different areas and then something you wouldn’t expect like a pond hidden behind some hedgerow at the back of the garden. (grab a map and hunt it out when you visit!)
Vibrant colours of Summer
Having decided to wander the map by the numbered locations, our plan failed at the first hurdle. Withing moments of going through the gate we were walking right towards the vibrant colours peeking out from the room by the orangerie. Bright pink, red and white Geraniums and Begonias shone through the doorway. And they were equally impressive up close too. Perhaps more when you could get up close and see the many petals they had on display.
I think that the bright flowers of Geranium and Begonia are a sure sign of summer being in full flow. I love them all packed together like this too. It makes a very impressive display and one that I would love to have in my garden if I had more space.
Up close, the flowers are just stunning! Petal after petal of perfectly formed shape (bar a tiny bit of scorching). Colours glowing in the sunshine. I think I spent far to long looking closely at them only to realise after a while that there was more excitement just revealed through the gap in the doorway.
Towards the jungle
I’m always amazed at how differently things look at different times of year and when you have clear views of them. We never realised how jungle-esque the tropical house. Like you’re being transported to another place. A place that is certainly not 40 minutes from Manchester.
It was warm and lovely in the tropical house and the bees were having a fantastic time flying between blooms. They even played along when I wanted to get photos and videos of them!
Unfortunately, it seemed the only other people in the whole garden decided to join us in the there so we decided that the time was right to move on. Still rebelling against our original plan to follow the numbers we randomly headed into the gardens once again.
On a regular weekend day at Tatton Park, you are very unlikely to get an uninterrupted view of the mansion. It was so surprising to be able to see it in its entirety without hoards of people taking the same photographs as you are. Without hesitation, I started to collect said snaps free from people. Or should that be with the few people hidden behind bushes? Perhaps a once in a lifetime experience I wondered.
It is strange how different a place feels when there are fewer people there. It was as though it was open just for us and we spent a lot of our time quietly talking to each other and listing to the nature sounds (why is that you naturally revert to being quiet when it is quiet?) Anyway, we took a look at the map and decided to try to find an area we had never seen before. Through the hedgerow we went. Following what looked more like a desire line than a path. There, to our surprise was a pond. A very green pond, but a pond all the same.
I have to say that we were a little bit disappointed by the state of the pond. It is featured on the garden map, so we expected something a bit more maintained. The poor lilies were engulfed by the pond weed.
Towards the well-known
Having experienced the little bit of garden behind the hedges we wandered back towards the parts of the garden we know well. Still occasionally checking the numbers on the map to find other spaces that we have overlooked previously.
Remember when I mentioned about surprises? This part of the garden is full of them. Little courtyards here and there, enticing you with the plants beyond the boundary. Sunshine flooding through drawing you into the area, following the warmth and beauty.
Seriously, who could resist something like that? I’m not going to give it all away, so you will either have to watch the video or more importantly make a trip there to see it in real life!
Each little area offers a place to soak up some sunlight and enjoy the flowers and plants. On a quiet day you can sit and ponder for a while on one of the benches or perch at the side of the water feature, listening to the relaxing trickle.
Looking past the ordinary
Of course when you’re visiting a garden, the plants, flowers and features are the things you will be there for. But a theme that runs through everything in my life, and one I recommend, is to look out for the lesser spotted things. The curious and different. The bits that you would miss while looking at the floor or sidling a glance here and there.
In the walled garden, you’d be forgiven for thinking that it is just fruit and vegetables. And by no means, the rotunda building at the back.
But by changing the direction of your glances and by checking out angles you haven’t before you can spot something out of the ordinary. Something that might spark your imagination, a conversation or creativity. On our visit, we spotted this old bell. Hanging proudly from the wall in the garden with seemingly no purpose. What do you suspect it was for? Was it the original location for it?
As speed walkers, though, we found that the slow wander was taking its toll. We were feeling drowsy and lackluster, not matter how lovely the scenery was. So we decided on an ice lolly pick-me-up and a faster paced walk in the parkland.
Luckily for us the tuck shop sold normal non-dairy lollies, so we snaffled them up and took to the open grass, sucking and nibbling our lollies as we went.
It was quite the relief to get into the parkland. A faster pace was set and we were able to feel more of the breeze. Not that it did much to cool us, but it was more comfortable than the stillness in the enclosure of the gardens.
There were more people in the park than we had expected. I suppose some were making the most of the day by taking a walk after the foodie show. maybe walking off some of the many tasty snacks they got to try. Or just heading to watch people bungee jump over the mere. Whatever their reason, they were friendly and we were greeting with smiles regularly.
Following our curiosity, we ended up walking over a new boardwalk by the ancient oaks only to realise that it was only small. Nonetheless, we enjoyed the detour and discovered another path that borders the golf course. Making note of it for our next visit we returned to the other side to continue on the grass paths.
As we walked, we reminisced over our visits that we had there with Belle, our first “borrow dog“. How she could find every opportunity to have a swim or find the smelliest puddle. Oh and the time she lost the £12 ball I bought her on the first trip our by dropping it down a rabbit hole. She was good fun!
One thing that you can’t avoid when at Tatton Park is the urge to let your mind wander to holidays. The park is right underneath the flight path for Manchester airport and you can almost see the faces in the windows as they fly overhead. You would be entirely excused for your thoughts fleeting through memories of past holidays and ones you would like to take. Especially when you have such glorious surroundings to help you along.
Our fast paced walk soon began to turn to a more subdued wander as the intensity of the heat started to hit us. The other path has much less shade (but a better view of the mere) meaning that we were in the full light of it. As we meandered our way back to the car, we took some time to enjoy the deer eating in the meadow grass. We also watched a lady plunging towards the mere on the bungee jump, breaking the natural sounds with her screams of delight (I hope!)
We were feeling quite satisfied with our wander. Getting in some speed and some steady. We hit our step count and went back to the car to cool off and enjoy the remains of our flask of tea.
I don’t know what it is about Tatton Park that makes it such a great place to visit time and time again. Whether it is the beautiful setting, the space to let your mind wander or the fact that it changes so much with the seasons. Whatever it is, we will certainly visit time and time again and I hope that you will too.
Now I have to bring my drifted ind back to my desk, so that I can be getting on with my work! Oh Tatton Park, you tease me even from here!
Have you ever visited Tatton Park? Do you have a favourite place to visit to just walk, relax or just let your mind wander?
Let me know in the comments below