These are set on the hillside above Temple Sowerby. This is now bypassed by the A66, so you need to follow signs to the village and the gardens are signposted along minor roads on the west side of the village. Make a mental note of the route as it is unsigned as you leave.
The house and gardens are reached by a long drive through lovely pastoral farmland along a driveway with parking on the verges.
The house is an elegant but very simple red sandstone building which has been opened for the first time this year. The tickets and shop are in the main entrance hall which has a large fireplace. Guided tours were being offered of the empty rooms. We didn’t have time to join one this visit. Another time. There is a ‘post card room’ asking visitors to pin a card to the walls with ideas about what they would like the National Trust to do with the house. The west wing is currently let out as self catering accommodation. The tea room is in the east wing.
An archway by the splendid dove cot leads into the gardens. On the right is a walled garden which is a herb garden with the largest collection of culinary and medicinal herbs in North England. Many are labelled. Some are old favourites but there were many new names. There is a leaflet available with pictures and information about some of the herbs.
Beyond is another walled garden with a collection of apple trees. A board explains these are planted in natural grassland which is cut in mid July. In spring the grass is covered with narcissi and snakes head fritillary and is a beautiful sight if you visit then. In September/October it is covered with autumn crocuses. On the house side is a herbaceous border which at the end of August was full of colour from dahlias and sweet peas. At the far end, a doorway through the wall leads to a smaller orchard newly planted with small apple trees. There are also runner beans and squashes being grown here.
At the back of the house is a delightful small sunken garden with steps leading down to a pond with a small fountain and white water lilies. A small gateway in the hedge leads to the wild garden on the sides of Crowdundle Beck. Footpaths through ancient oak woodland lead past a pond to a restored watermill. This is open at weekends and staffed by volunteers. Flour ground here is on sale in the shop and is used in the tea room.
This is a delightful place to wander and enjoy. It makes an excellent break if travelling along the A66 and the tea room is highly recommended, selling a range of very good home made cakes and scones. Read my review.
Entry is £5