We got lost in Wirksworth, which is larger and busier than we realised. We missed the (unsigned) turn and ended up navigating our way through a maze of unsigned, unclassified roads in the depths of the Derbyshire Dales. The roads were bendy, very narrow and had grass growing down the middle. It’s just as well we didn’t meet anything coming the other way. We eventually found our way to Hopton and drove through the village. There are no brown signs, just a bill board outside the entrance to the drive saying the gardens were open.
Car parking is on a grassy field in front of the house, with a portaloo, honesty box on a table (£4, change in the cafe) and a sign saying follow the green arrows.
These take you in front of the house (interesting building, not open for tours) and along a walk lined by beech hedges. Most of the grounds are grassland with specimen trees and shrubs. The paths then take you through a yew avenue before climbing up a steep slope into the walled garden. This is on a steep south facing slope and a real sun trap. There are the remains of a few old fruit trees on the walls. Most of the garden is now planted up as a rose garden with individual beds surrounded by neatly trimmed box hedges. The smell from the old fashioned varieties was over powering. In a bottom corner there is a small, well tended vegetable patch with beans, peas, cabbages, potatoes, lettuce, carrots…
The walk then drops down out of the walled garden and along the bottom wall with a croquet lawn on the other side and specimen juniper trees and round the ornamental lake with ducks and back to the car park.
Paths are either gravel or chipped bark. In places alongside the lake it was quite damp and squelchy underfoot. There were a few steps dropping down onto the path along the croquet lawn. The website warns that wheelchairs may experience some difficulties.
There is a small cafe in the ornamental brick building at the top of the walled garden serving teas, coffees, cold drinks and cakes. The choice was Victoria sandwich, lemon cake, coffee and walnut or tea loaf. Prices were reasonable at £2.50 for the cake and £1 for drinks.
There’s not a lot to see in the gardens – it probably took us an hour to go round and have a cake. It was interesting to call in if passing, but not worth making a special trip just to see them.
The Gardens are open Mid June – end August and also February for the snowdrops.