The Forbidden Corner can be found in the grounds of Tupgill Park Estate near Middleham in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales. We arrived at Tupgill on one of those beautiful Spring mornings Yorkshire is famous for; Clear blue skies, lambs leaping in the fields and daffodils on the grass verges.
We had the luxury of gaining access to the park an hour before its 11am opening. I was accompanied by my husband and 2 very overexcited sons. Once greeted by the friendly staff we were shown into the park entrance and immediately faced with the impressive Instagram-worthy tree man pointing in the direction of the entrance. This is probably the most iconic image of the park. When faced with the real thing it’s easy to see why and without hesitation we stopped for a photo opportunity with this big friendly statue.
Further down the path the entrance to the park starts to emerge. It looks like a stone tunnel but as we got closer we noticed it was a giant open mouth beneath big googly eyes. As we walked through the tunnel it let out a huge burp which of course made us all jump and giggle in equal measure. This is when we realised that we actually had no idea what was in store for us but if this entrance was anything to go by it was bound to be both bonkers and brilliant.
Our eldest son had the advantage of visiting previously with grandparents and insisted we walked along the path in front of him. A few yards in and a good soaking later we realised he wasn’t being courteous he just wanted to see his unsuspecting parents get drenched by the innocent looking statues that squirt water at passers-by. Not all statues do this and I’m not going to spoil the fun by telling you which ones do. This park is all about keeping you on your toes.
As we proceeded into the gardens we were quick to realise that there is no set route. One moment we were walking in the sunshine admiring the weird and wonderful follies the next moment we were choosing which door to open to escape the darkness of an underground temple. Further on in our journey we were greeted by a giant woodcutter before trying to squeeze our way out of a deceivingly narrow tunnel (which is another hilarious photo opportunity). Needless to say you really have to be prepared to go with the flow as you can’t predict what or where you’re going to end up next.
After a few hours of exploring our younger companions started to get hungry so we thought this was a great opportunity to try out the café. The sun was still shining so we managed to get a perfect table in the outside eating area where we enjoyed delicious freshly baked pizzas and salad. Conversations quickly turned to when we were going to visit The Forbidden Corner again and who we were going to bring with us.
The whole experience of the Forbidden Corner was completely weird and wonderful. Little hands were held a little tighter as we descended into some of the darker areas (we’re going to take a torch next time) but my six year old reassured me that these parts were a good kind of scary. It really is a great alternative to an average family day out. Having spent the last few years trying to keep children entertained during school holidays with visits to theme parks, castles, museums and gardens the Forbidden Corner is a refreshing change, a wild card, a fantasy land and a place I will be returning to time after time.
The Forbidden Corner is open everyday from 1st April to 31st October and then on Sundays until Christmas. Admission is by pre-booked tickets only which can be booked through their website or by calling (+44) 01969 640638. For more information, visit http://www.theforbiddencorner.co.uk