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Our after school lakeside adventure - A review of Cholmondeley Castle gardens

Our after school lakeside adventure – A review of Cholmondeley Castle gardens

The weather this week was gorgeous and since we fancied an after school treat we embarked on a mini adventure to Cholmondeley Castle gardens in Cheshire. The gardens are nestled away in the stunning Cheshire Countryside and a visit here offered us a picturesque spot to enjoy a run about in the sunshine for a couple of hours before tea. 

Basic information:

Location: Cheshire, Malpas SY14 8AH

01829 720383

Attraction type: Countryside walk, lake walk.

Cost of admission: £8.50 for adults, £4 for children. Kids under 5 years old go free.

Car park: Free

Prebook: Yes due to covid as limited numbers are in place. You can book on the day.

Opening times: Current opening times are from 10am on Wednesdays, Thursdays, Sundays and Bank holidays. Car park gate is currently closed at 5pm at the time of this review with last entry at 4pm.

Wheelchair and pram accessible? Yes. See review.

Walking difficulty: Easy but there are some hills and drops to be mindful of. Benches dotted around for tired feet.

Dog friendly: Dogs on leads are very welcome.

Suitable for cyclists: There is a family friendly Saturday cycling session running each week. See review.

Toilets: Yes

Food: Food is available from the tea room. Picnics welcome.

Estimated visit duration: 3 hours approx.

Covid update: Pre-booking as visitor numbers are reduced. Social distancing is easily observed due to the vast space of the gardens and extended parkland. Park and chapel closed due to covid regulations. 

So what did we get up to on our trip?

Cholmondeley Castle Gardens offers a great family day out in Cheshire. The gardens themselves surround a romantic gothic Castle, designed and built in the 1800s. As soon as we parked the car our girl made a beeline up the hill towards this magnificent building to investigate. She enjoyed the climb up the hill to get to the castle (and enjoyed rolling down said hill), and loved playing hide and seek behind the trees. The castle is actually occupied and so there is no access to the public. However, it forms an impressive backdrop to the gardens and a walk up here offers amazing views across to the rest of the parkland and Cheshire countryside. 

Cholmondeley Castle exterior

There are numerous ornamental gardens surrounding the Castle and all provide a lovely mix of colour which constantly changes with the seasons. The gardens are well maintained and all offer a different experience for visitors. Various parts of the Gardens have been left to grow wild, producing wonderful meadows and wild grassland, home to a variety of mini beasts for the children to spot.

Waterfall, Cholmondeley Castle Gardens 

Our little girl is instantly drawn to water and so her favourite garden was of course the Temple Garden. Here there is a small but beautiful lake, adorned with a large variety of colourful flora on the outskirts, and two small islands within the lake itself. Rustic bridges join the islands with the main land but these are not accessible to walk on in order to preserve this fantastic space.

Lake, Temple Garden, Cholmondeley Castle Gardens

A visit here reminded me of a trip to an Italian garden with the vines creeping around the stone archways and the lovely rustic bridges joining the mainland to the lakes islands. We really enjoyed our intriguing and tranquil walk around this lake and our girl loved watching the small waterfalls and trying to spot fish and frogs. She didn’t see any but she was happy looking out for bubbles and ripples under the water. 

Climbing the steps from the Temple garden we joined the Lavinia walk and up to the Rose garden, before heading to the tea room and the natural Den. The Den is located in the long grass behind the disabled car park with a secret and mysterious entrance, making the den feel like a very enchanting space. Inside the den were some small wooden carved seats and tables, along with a few twisting trees to practice our tree climbing skills, and even a bug hotel which was designed and built by children for children. This secret hideaway has been designed to help attune little ones with nature and help spark their imagination. She loved imagining that chairs belonged to magical fairies or the dwarves from Snow White. It took some doing to get her to leave the space and explore the rest of the gardens. 

The mysterious and magical den in Cholmondeley Castle Gardens is located immediately behind the disabled car park. Its entrance is hidden to add to the enchantment so keep your eyes peeled. 

Upon leaving the den, we explored some of the pathways leading to Tower Hill, an area which is partly maintained but partly left to grow wild and is lined with ornamental trees and shrubs. Follow it to the top and you can see remarkable panoramic views of the surrounding countryside. In late spring the lower slopes behind the tearoom are home to English Bluebells adding even more colour to your walk.

Exploring Tower Hill, just behind the magical Den 

Gardens explored and its time to head to the deer Park Mere. She loved spotting the ducks and the lake is stunning, just like the gardens. There is a nature trail which runs alongside and the kids will enjoy a walk around here splashing in the mud so take some wellies. The Mere is home to a large population of windfowl and other animals, and children can even enjoy a spot of pond dipping with every care taken to ensure that children are safe during this activity. Enquire about pond dipping with the office.

The Mere and Natural walk, Cholmondeley Castle Gardens, Cheshire 

The highlight for children has to be the play area by the mere, complete with slide, climbing apparatus, balance apparatus, Zip line and swings. There’s also some large open spaces to have a good run around, and children can even explore some hidden pathways. As you can see, the facilities offer something for children of all ages. Unfortunately the play area was closed at the time of our visit due to covid restrictions, but her interest is piqued and she keeps asking repeatedly if its open now so she can go back. 

Play area, Cholmondeley Castle Gardens

Around a ten to fifteen minute walk away from the tea rooms there is a little chapel. It was closed on the day of our visit due to covid restrictions but we have been assured that it is home to the most beautiful stained glass windows and is worth a look. 

Before heading home enjoy seeing the cheeky African Pygmy goats climbing up and down the steps of the goat tower, alpacas, llamas, sheep, pigs, Longhorn Cattle and Shetland ponies. The area is currently under renovation so the animals were not available to say hello during our visit but will be soon. 

For families keen to improve their fitness, Cholmondeley Gardens are running exclusive Saturday Fitness Sessions where families can enjoy cycling, jogging or walking a 3K circuit, enjoy wild swimming in the freshwater lake and take part in the lakeside yoga all in a car-free environment with the beautiful backdrop of Cholmondeley Castle. The sessions run between 9am-1pm, with a cost of £20 per car or £8 per single entry. The Gardens and Cafe will be closed during this event but food and drink will be available to purchase during the sessions.

Go on then, one last roll down the hill.

To conclude...

We really enjoyed our after school treat today. The gardens were stunning and we left feeling really relaxed. The childrens Den is a magical and quaint addition, and of course there are lots of hills to roll down too. We love the idea of taking a picnic (just be mindful that you cant eat the picnic within the gardens themselves).  The online booking process was simple and staff were very accommodating as, due to a medical issue, we were not sure if we would make the trip and so they offered to change the date if required. They had no idea we were going for a review. Staff are also very responsive to emails and messages via social media. 

Playing hide and seek

However, we would have appreciated a map upon entry to make the most out of our visit. With a four year old in tow it was a bit tricky to make sure we found everything as there was little signage. For example, it was only because we looked online before we visited that we knew of the dens existence as its easily missed.  

In terms of cost, initially due to the size of the gardens it can seem a little steep compared to the price of visiting other gardens which may be larger. However, when you consider the amount of work that must go in to maintaining this space, and the fact that each time we have visited we can see staff working away, we feel the price is fair. We will certainly be back in the not too distant future as the gardens are a great space to go on a relaxing family walk in Cheshire. 

Daffodils at Spring time in Cholmondeley Castle Gardens

Additional information...

*The interior of the castle is not open to the public as the castle is a family home.

*Picnics are permitted or you can enjoy some tasty home made treats in the tea room.

* With some areas being left to grow wild, there are some nettles dotted around.
*Some areas of the gardens are unsuitable for wheelchairs and prams though there is a signed wheelchair route through some sections. Manual wheelchairs are available to hire from the tea room.

* There is a disabled car park near the tea room and castle.
*Disabled toilets are available in the tea room.
*Guide dog and dog friendly.

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Terms and conditions...

*We have tried our best to give a factual and honest review based on our own experiences. However, this is just our interpretation and different people will naturally have difference experiences. Therefore, please regard this review as intended. 

*As far as we are aware, all information is correct at the time of publication. If a mistake has been made, or if there is a recent update we should be aware of, please contact admin. Prices and facilities are subject to change, especially as  covid regulations change. 

*For more things to do in Cheshire please feel free to follow us on social media. The links are above. 

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