The website describes the gardens as the “Secret Garden of the North”. Set in the heart of Teesdale between Barnard Castle and Middleton in Teesdale, these are a delightful surprise in an area where there are few ‘Tourist Attractions’. The gardens are in the huge walled garden attached to Eggleston Hall.
We parked the car, walked past the shop (a bit pretentious) and the cafe which was doing a roaring trade with mainly Silver Travellers, and walked through the gate into the walled garden. We were met by a blaze of colour. This is now a nursery selling a huge variety of potted plants all in good condition and reasonably priced. This is the place to come if you want to find something a bit different. There isn’t a plastic gnome, twee garden ornaments or garden feature in sight. This just sell plants.
Admission to the nursery is free but there is an honesty box for the gardens (£2.50) and a leaflet with not very helpful plan. This explains that twenty two numbered stones take you round the garden with herbaceous borders, winding paths, wishing pool, old churchyard, moorland stream, pottager garden and a small replica of the Angel of the North. Stone 1 was by the honesty box. We set off to explore.
The herbaceous gardens are delightful and a mass of colour with every sort of perennial you can imagine, and many we’d not seen before. We managed to find stones 2 to 5 but couldn’t find 6 or 7. We went backwards between 12 and 8 and never did find 13 to 22. We asked another couple, who gaily replied they couldn’t find any of the stones and were just following their noses.
This is the thing to do. Just follow your nose and explore the gardens. The old churchyard is reached through a gate in an evergreen hedge with steps leading down to the churchyard with its ruined 17thC church. This was rather a sad and not very photogenic area and we would give it a miss another time.
The walk continues by looping round the top of the nursery with mainly trees and conifers for sale, along the wall and down along a delightful small stream with big yellow primroses in the banks. At the far end is the small statue of the Angel of the North with a small herb garden in front of it with lupins in flower.
The gardens aren’t very big and it would be easy to scamper round them in twenty minutes. This would be a shame as these are gardens to savour slowly and enjoy.
DISABLED ACCESS Paths around the garden are well kept gravel and the grass is cut regularly. It is an attractive place to wander and all of the garden is accessible.
There is disabled access to the shop and restaurant. There is a disabled toilet in the cafe.