Yesterday I spent a lovely day at Rode Hall & Gardens with my twins, Julia from Rainbeaubelle and her little girl. It’s a little further from us on the Wirral than we thought but we easily managed it as a day out in between school drop off and pick up. It was nice to venture a little further afield and explore somewhere new.
Rode Hall & Gardens is home to one of the UK’s finest Snowdrop Walks (30 Jan – 6 March) and is a magical end-of-winter walk for all the family, where you can explore the gardens and see over 70 varieties of snowdrops. (I’m not sure we saw all 70 but we enjoyed seeing lots of them).
Rode is apparently one of the few gardens in the North West who open at this time of year for ‘Snowdrop Walks’ as lots of homes and gardens stay closed until Easter.
The snowdrops have multiplied over 6 generations of the Wilbraham family (who still own the estate); they were first planted by Sibella Wilbraham in 1833 who came from a family of gifted gardeners. This passion and care continues to the present day having been further developed by Anne Baker Wilbraham over the last 30 years.
We arrived at Rode as it opened at 11, and were given a map of the gardens and three activity sheets for the children (well us) to complete. We were actually shown around by Amanda Wilbraham one of the current owners of the house, and it was fascinating to listen to her stories of the house and how her children explored the gardens when they were growing up.
Once we had negotiated the hats/gloves/scarves debacle that you have with three little ones, they set off, maps in hand to explore the gardens.
Not only is there the opportunity to wander through the snowdrops (mine did worry they might break them) hence the slightly worried faces,
there is also the chance to hunt for specially commissioned Willow Animal Sculptures dotted along the walk and complete the quiz at the end to win a prize. We were lucky enough to have Amanda with us to locate all of the animals and we have suggested that these are marked on the map for grown ups to direct children in the direction of the animals, as the grounds are quite large and it would be sad to miss out on such lovely sculptures. The kids loved searching for them in the gardens.
We frightened the children half to death by discovering the magical 200 year old Grotto hidden in the wild garden. It’s a fun addition to the grotto that broomsticks and lanterns have been left in there to indicate it is definitely where the Witch lives; she is just not at home.
Various other chairs and benches are strewn through the gardens and make lovely places for the kids to play or for grown ups to rest.
Entrance Costs are as follows:
House & Gardens: Adults £8, Concessions £7, Children 5-15 £1.
Garden Only: Adults £5, Children 5-15 £1.
RHS/HHA Members Free
We finished our cold, but fun winters walk, by taking a trip into Rode Hall’s Tea Room, this is wonderfully atmospheric with a flaming wood burner and local seasonal family-friendly menu. Everything possible is grown in the Kitchen Garden and home made at the Hall or sourced from the Rode Hall Farmers’ Market including soups, sausage baps, cakes, cream teas, biscuits and ice cream.
We had cheesy jacket potatoes and the kids all had sausage butties, but it was the cakes that really sold the tea rooms to us! Yep the lovely yummy, sticky, cake of all types…
· Rode Hall Farmers’ Market
on Saturday 6 February
and Saturday 5 March 9am -1.30pm
. Enjoy live music and craft activites for small children with School in the Woods up at the barns. Over 70 top producers offer the finest artisan produce from Rode
Hall, Cheshire, Staffordshire, Derbyshire and Lancashire (www.rodehallfarmersmarket.co.uk
· Rode Hall Shop selling Rode’s new range of jams, pickles and cordials made with produce from its organic Kitchen Garden. Also selling snowdrops, spring plants and dried flowers.
I couldn’t leave without buying some home made piccalilli and the lovely Julia treated us to some snowdrops.
NB: We visited Rode Hall at the invitation of Rode Hall but all views are our own.