There’s two outstanding features related to Forbidden Corner in the Yorkshire Dales – Forbidden Corner and the Yorkshire Dales. Yes, really, you can hardly ask for better entertainment in a more beautiful area. Those who live further away and haven’t explored the glorious countryside are in for a real treat.
Do yourself a favour and book into Forbidden Corner’s own accommodation, a selection of six cottages in Tupgill Park, very near to the rolling hills of Coverdale. They range from one bedroom apartments to converted two storey cottages and are all of a high standard. And at £100 a night they compare favourably with local hotels, especially as you get free entrance into the attraction if you book at least 3 nights.
The Dales are world famous and rightly so, including an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty at Nidderdale. Nearby Wensleydale is immensely popular with those who want to walk the mountains, moor and valley floors. Throw in two exceptional waterfalls, the three tiered and very attractive Aysgarth and the 100 foot Hardraw Force (the highest above ground waterfall in England, only subterranean drops are more lofty) and you can appreciate it’s magnetism. Incidentally you pass through a pub to get to Hardraw, what are you waiting for !
If you fancy something educational to give weary limbs a rest you can watch ale being fermented in micro breweries (Black Sheep, Masham being the most famous), Wensleydale cheese being churned in Hawes and in the same village a display by Outhwaites of rope weaving. Hawes is a village that punches well above its weight in what if offers to tourists and is always worth a visit.
As far as Forbidden Corner goes, allow me to repeat one of their ubiquitous poems;
But beware of the many doors that may lead you astray, for no one can safely say that there’s a way to escape every alley way.
That sums this marvellous forest gem up admirably. It’s basically a big maze and you have a list of objects to find and tick off on a map. Sounds a doddle but it’s anything but. There are blind alleys, narrowing corridors that you can’t pass through, optical illusions that bamboozle you, a labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises. You’ll find yourself in tight spots, literally, get lost, wet, make a fool of yourself and basically have a load of fun.
Imagine this. You’re in a pitch black room and the lights go on. There are a dozen doors in front of you. Opening one you find a pink wall. You know all the walls are painted a different colour and only one door has a passageway to safety. The lights go out for twenty seconds and when they come back on you try the door to the left of the original ……… and reveal a pink wall. Impossible, you know you moved one step anti-clockwise. What you don’t realise is the walls revolve, and it’s up to you to work out how fast. Now that isn’t an actual puzzler at Forbidden Corner, but it’s the type of problem you have to overcome. I don’t want to spoil it by giving away its secrets and imaginative deceptions.
It’s great fun to see people walking feet away from you near to a gem you need to find. But joining them might entail going underground, through three concentric circles or taking the presumed easier option over stepping stones and running the risk of a drenching. And along the way you’ll encounter quirky and random statues, carvings and structures. Put it this way, you enter Forbidden Corner through a huge mouth that has the less than sociable habit of burping loudly. The first of many laughs you’ll have along the way.
You have to book in advance because the attraction isn’t huge, 4 acres, and it’s very popular in the short time it’s open. Usually about six months from the end of March. Relatively small though it is you could easily spend an entire afternoon here, especially as the cafe is pretty good and there are some nice gardens to relax in. There’s also a small shop to buy a few unusual souvenirs, just what you’d expect. The prices are a very reasonable £11.50 for adults though sadly they don’t decrease much for senior citizens or children (4 – 15), £10.50 and £9.50 respectively. But you can get a family pass for £40 which will save you a couple of pounds.
Worth the money in my opinion for an attraction that is so different from your usual theme park or seaside day out. And as I say, the added bonus of being situated in one of England’s most picturesque areas. I’d recommend it without fear of disappointing all but the most demanding of visitors. And if you warm to it as much as I did, you can even buy a book by Colin Armstrong, it’s creator. It’s called Behind the Forbidden Corner and details the thinking and history behind the attraction. And the battle they had to get permission retrospectively after it was built, ahum, unlawfully.