Thornbridge Hall Gardens is currently a little known secret and Peak District hidden gem
Thornbridge Hall is a grade two listed stately home nestled in 12 acres of quirky, quintessentially English gardens with stunning views of the surrounding Derbyshire countryside. Go for good, wholesome family fun. And don’t miss the hook a duck fountain!
Very generously, Emma and Jim, the owners of Thornbridge initially opened up the gardens just for locals to visit completely free. Now Thornbridge Hall Gardens are open for the general public to visit and enjoy.
Thornbridge Hall is located not far from Bakewell and Ashford in the Water in the Derbyshire Dales. It could easily be combined with exploring Bakewell or the Monsal Trail, e.g. from Hassop station. Or, you could spend the best part of the day exploring the delightful gardens of Thornbridge. In line with current restrictions, only the gardens are open and the café is operating as takeaway only.
Entry is via the café, where there are also toilets to the left before entering the gardens. The toilets seemed brand new and were fairly clean despite visiting them towards the end of the day. There are disabled facilities (although the gardens would be very tricky to navigate in a wheelchair) and baby changing facilities. We did see people with pushchairs but I’d probably recommend a carrier as the paths are gravelly. (If you’re interested in more pushchair friendly walks there is a full list HERE)
All the current covid restrictions were being followed at Thornbridge Hall Gardens. You must wear a mask to enter the café (which you have to do to access the gardens) but after that you are outside the whole time. The grounds are huge and it was easy to socially distance from others. I felt entirely safe.
Carriage House Café at Thornbridge Hall Gardens
I enjoyed a well-made coffee. There was a good selection of attractive looking homemade cakes, but for once I managed to resist. My parents had a delicious chocolate brownie and a cranberry flapjack and I’m assured both were good. There’s a range of cold drinks and a small selection of ice creams. I imagine the selection will increase as the weather improves. Apparently the sausage rolls are rather special too! If you visit with young children you can also buy a fishing net. This is essential for the fun that will unfold. We bought a snazzy little retractable number for £4.50 although you could of course take your own.
‘Hook a duck’ fountain
For us, the absolute highlight of our visit to Thornbridge Hall Gardens was the ‘hook a duck’ fountain. What a quirky, fun idea! One of the ornate old fountains has been filled with hundreds of yellow rubber ducks so children can enjoy fishing them out. My three year old was in her absolute element and practically had to be dragged away. What good, wholesome fun. It was a shame that so many people had discarded their nets. I can’t imagine any of my discerning readers would be so careless or anti-social. The fountain has had some lovely new seating, perfect for parents/carers to enjoy watching their offspring have the time of their lives! Grab a coffee from the nearby café and watch the fun unfold.
About Thornbridge Hall and its gardens
Thornbridge Hall has a really interesting history. Initially the seat of the Longsdon family from the 12th century until the late 18th century. It has since had several owners, each leaving their mark on Thornbridge. At one point Thornbridge even had its own railway station!
Thornbridge Hall Gardens is a RHS garden. It isn’t quite as ‘manicured’ as the likes of Chatsworth, but we all loved it. There are a wide range of different areas including an Italian garden, a 30m herbaceous border, water garden and Koi Lake, and terraced lawns overlooking the stunning Peak District. There are an extensive range of plants. We will look forward to returning through the year to see garden evolve through the seasons. There’s a wide range of plants available to buy (this area is situated just after the café, near the entrance). Many of the plants have been grown on site from seeds, cuttings and divisions from the gardens.
Overall, we had a wonderful afternoon out at Thornbridge Hall Gardens. My Mum said it was the best day out she’d had in years (to be fair, she hasn’t gone anywhere else because of covid!) and my daughter loved it too. I loved wandering round in the fresh air and would definitely return.
Lots of fresh air in the beautiful gardens and good wholesome family fun. Don’t miss the hook a duck fountain!
Open seven days a week, 10am – 4pm, no need to book. Dogs welcome on leads. From Monday 12th onwards, adults are £7 each with under sixteens and RHS members free. Homemade picnics actively discouraged, please support the café instead. Postcode for sat navs is DE45 1NZ. Free parking. Visit their website here.