Visit Lea Gardens’ beautiful rhododendron garden and wonderful tearoom near Matlock
Lea Gardens is a pretty rhododendron garden in the Derbyshire village of Lea, not far from Matlock. I first visited late in the season last year but it’s quickly become one of our favourite places to visit. It never feels crowded and is easy to stay away from people, so it’s a particularly good choice at the moment. There’s a clear one way system to ensure social distancing. Apart from briefly popping in the tearooms (which also have a one way system) to pay for entrance, you’re outside the whole time so feels very safe.
I would recommend buying a season ticket for £12 per adult and then you can return as many times as you like for the rest of the season for free. Children are free with season ticket holders. Otherwise, it costs £6 per adult and £1 for children although you can visit the tearooms without paying admission for the garden.
Lea Gardens covers approximately three and a half acres. Gravel paths weave in and around rhododendrons, azaleas and lots of other beautiful plants. The garden is situated in a woodland area and feels really tranquil and relaxing. It’s also a brilliant place on a very hot day. The dense planting and woodland means it’s well shaded and a nice way to be outdoors but not worry about children being in direct sun or getting too hot and bothered.
I wouldn’t recommend going with a pushchair as the paths are bumpy, narrow and quite steep in places (but there are plenty of pushchair friendly walk ideas here). It is however an excellent place to take little ones for a walk. My three year old loves it. The one way arrows mean she can stomp ahead, leading the way and discovering things at her own pace. There are a couple of play areas towards the end of the trail.
Fabulous tearoom – eat al fresco with stunning garden views
The tearooms are worth a visit alone. Currently only open for takeaway only, they serve a decent coffee and the cake counter is an utter delight. All the cakes are homemade and the selection changes regularly. I’ve never had lunch here but there’s a reassuring small menu of delicious sounding hot and cold sandwiches, jacket potatoes etc. Once outside hospitality reopens this is an excellent place to eat al fresco. If you are lucky you can blag a seat overlooking the gorgeous gardens below. It’s also possible to visit the tea room without paying admission for the gardens. The staff also deserve a special mention. They are unfailingly cheerful and polite. There’s also a small shop selling cards, gifts and plants grown on site.
Parking is free along the roadside either before or after the entrance. There is a small toilet block at the entrance, including disabled facilities. The facilities have always been squeaky clean whenever we have visited. Well behaved dogs are welcome on a lead.
In short, Lea Gardens is a wonderful hidden gem. It’s family run and doesn’t feel at all commercialised. It’s perfect for a tranquil few hours and is a great place to visit with young children.
Beautiful, traffic free woodland walks and the excellent tearoom
Lea Gardens is open daily in its open season (usually mid March – end of August but do check their website or socials) 10am-5pm, DE4 5GH