Having lived in and around Durham all my life I have learned that I take for granted all of the beautiful surrounding and we are constantly finding new little pockets of culture and hidden retreats.
One of those places is Crook Hall and Gardens which I thought would be miles away in Crook village but turns out is in central Durham and literally 5 minutes from our home! The 13th century Grade I listed Medieval hall in Durham City provides a spectacular backdrop to the stunning gardens.
Having driven past the turn off for Crook Hall a few times whilst turning the car around down by the river so to find out that such a gem was tucked away just feet from where we have been on numerous occasions really shocked me and made me wonder what else is hidden around Durham.
We turned up and had to squeeze into the last available parking space in the small car park, to see it so busy was definitely a good sign. There was a lovely gentleman who opened the door when we approached and immediately put Amelia at ease by chatting with her and inviting her into the cafe area. After being given laminated sheets explaining the separate garden sections, a map and all about the Hall we set off to look around.
The lovely thing about the gardens is that it is fully enclosed so we didn’t have to worry about the children running off, each section was small enough to give the kids freedom to look around by themselves without having to be on top of them all the time but they were still within distance to keep an eye on them.
There was so much to see, from the Food Garden and Greenhouse to the Secret Garden and Cathedral View, as we walked through there was always something else to focus on and I can only imagine how beautiful it would all be in the summer when all the flowers are in bloom.
Amelia took one look at the naked statue and freaked out!
After our walk around the garden we headed back to the cafe for something to eat. The whole place was bustling with chatter and obviously people who visit regularly as they greeted each other with smiles and hugs. It seems like a walkers paradise and we saw a lot of people with back packs and sticks who obviously called in for a break on their route. I love the fact the menus are printed, rolled and popped into a milk bottle on the table, its original touches like this that stand out in smaller establishments and make them memorable.
For lunch we ordered ham sandwiches for the girls, which considering were from the childrens menu were huge! Served with a salad and crisps this was more than enough to keep them both going throughout the afternoon.
The fact they also brought over Stickle Bricks (remember those!!) for the girls to play with was highly appreciated and well thought through. So many places don’t think about the little ones or hand them a colouring paper and pencils which they get bored with easily!
I opted for the pumpkin and carrot soup which was delicious, very fresh and obviously home made, served with crusty bread and real butter, this was a real treat! Stuart went for the teacake and ended up having half of the girls sandwich too.
As we were finishing a queue was forming at the door so we quickly drank down the last of our coffee, said our thank yous and goodbyes! With lots of events planned throughout the year from Mothers Day Afternoon Tea to Hen Parties and even meeting Father Christmas and his Elves you can bet we will be back soon!
We were given complimentary entry to the gardens and lunch in return for this review. All opinions expressed are my own and genuine.