Jo’s Monday walk : Spring at Crook Hall, Durham


Stroll along the river bank with me, in the heart of Durham City, and let me take you to an idyllic garden.  I intended to visit a new exhibition at Durham Cathedral but, as luck would have it, it was closed that day.  I’m a firm believer in serendipity and, as the gentle sunshine warmed my cheeks, I suddenly knew where I wanted to go.

Crook Hall dates from 13th century and is a vision in golden ivy-clad stone.  It sits back a little from the footpath and the gently elevated position makes for majestic views over Durham. Crook is a Grade 1 listed Medieval hall with a rich and colourful history.  As all such places should, it has a resident ghost, ‘The White Lady’, and has been enjoyed by such luminaries as William Wordsworth and John Ruskin.  Today I’m going to focus on the garden rooms, described on the website as each having their own personality.



It’s impossible to ignore the constant presence of the house.  It provides a benign backdrop, yet with an almost tangible air of mystery.

Close by the house, a secret garden has been in existence for more than 700 years.

Statuary is an integral part of the gardens.  Nymphs and maidens shake out their tresses, demurely lower their eyes, or gaze seductively out.  Monks perform solemn duties, urns cast playful shadows and a rather mischievous Puck plays his pan pipes, sheltered beneath a weathered tree.

The golden lady follows me with her eyes, and what of the lady reclining, neglected, on the bare earth?  She must have a story to tell. Ornate chairs and benches invite me to linger, admiring the pure white snowdrops.  Beyond the lake, fiery witch hazel brands the limpid blue sky.

I drift from ‘room to room’, each leading to the next, yet independent and sufficient in itself.  A mighty lion bench, breathing fire, gives me pause.

Through a gate, precisely trimmed hedges in the newest of these still evolving gardens, etched with remnants of winter shadows.

Leaving the house behind, I wander down towards the rusty maze, bereft of leaves this early in the year.  Did you glimpse the koala, dangling in the tree?  And yet another selfie!  One more surprise awaits- a softly slumbering giant!

And then I’m back at the entrance and The Garden Gate Cafe. (open all day, separately from the Hall, but there are Tea Rooms inside the Hall too) The Sparkling Afternoon Tea looked very inviting but my lift had arrived and so I’ll have to disappoint you yet again.  No cake!  How come you missed this place, Jude?  It would have been a natural for the Garden Challenge.


Down at the river bank, this scene awaits, but if you turn and walk back towards the cathedral you might just be able to catch the exhibition, Open Treasure.  And if not, Durham Cathedral is always beautiful.


Lots of walks to share this week and I hope you can spare time to visit as many as you can. Especially as I won’t be posting a walk next week.  I will, I hope, be skip, hop and jumping (or walking) in Florence.  I don’t want to schedule a walk in my absence because it’s too hard to catch up again afterwards.  So I hope you’ll forgive me if I hang on to any walks you share till the following week?  Details are all on my Jo’s Monday walk page.


Eddy was close in my footsteps last week, but his were even cooler!

Do you want owt fromt’ shops?

There’s nothing nicer than a gentle stroll with Jude.  Treat yourself!

Historic Uphill Lincoln

Anabel ventured further up the coast from me, in some delightful villages :

Fife Coastal Path

Another coastal path for you, but Eunice is over on the other coast :

Anglesey Coastal Path- the White Arch and Tyger’s memorial

Two for the price of one from Eunice this week!

A long canal walk

Imagine my surprise on seeing Ana’s post!  Right on my very own doorstep :

Strolling along the River Wear in Durham

Quite a leap of the imagination from Durham to Buenos Aires, Ana :

Beloved Argentinian characters at Paseo de la Historieta

Jackie’s having fun down Mexico way- lovely bougainvillea!

A Mexican walk

I do love Woolly’s perspective on life!

Jo’s-Monday-Walk2017-Wk 06-Amsterdam 04

Lady Lee is completely at home in the Philippines :

What’s in Bohol?

And Liesbet is pretty good at balancing a budget!

Laguna Beach, CA- On a Shoestring

Amy’s back, and she’s chosen to ride, but who can blame her?

An Elephant Ride

I love Yvette’s take on life, but brrrh, those Falls look chilly!

Walk with Jo in Niagara, NY (doors and windows) 

Drake is always irrepressible.  Got to love him!

Warm feet and cold nose

Isn’t it always walking weather?  Well mostly, when you’re with Susan :

Walking, Weather or Not

And Carol has a most appropriate question :

When is a Walk not a Walk?

Rounding off with a highly informative walk from Denzil.  He’s doing a grand job promoting Belgium :

Walking from Tervuren to Bertem

And Cathy, beavering away in the States, but still found time to walk with me :

Philadelphia : the south mural arts walk 

Remember- no Monday walk next week!  But I’ll try to find you some cake in Florence.  Stay safe till the next time!



  1. Hope this is for your beautiful walk at the end of February. Wonderful spring images. that causes me to raised the question to heaven: Why did I wake up with snow this morning in California? This means, no flowers where I live yet (Sacramento, the capital, 1 1/2 hours away, yes) Have a great week!

  2. What a beautiful place, Jo, and the weather looks fabulous. Is it as warm in England now as it is here? Yesterday, it was nearly 80 degrees F (27C) here in Virginia! So unusual for February and it’s been like this nearly all week! Have you left for Florence yet? I’m so envious!

    1. Heavens to Betsy, you’re joking! It’s about 7C here 😦 We’ve had a couple of milder, sunny days, Cathy but not more than 13C 🙂 Blowing a hooligan at present. I’ve just done the packing and we leave for Florence tomorrow afternoon, flying from Liverpool. I’m hoping it stays dry for us and the temperatures look quite pleasant. It’s Mardi Gras while we’re there so I’m hoping we might see a parade 🙂 🙂 Incredible news for you about Japan! When will you go?

      1. I live in Spain. I visit UK once or twice a year. Short visits, usually family and friends in and around London. I’ll have to settle for your lovely pictures💖

  3. Wow, an image on angle *laughing. Once again .. the most delightful post and it’s always a pleasure walking with you. The Spring has come far over there – but how have you survived the storm Doris???!!! Love that Iris image … over here they don’t bloom until late May. Delight yourself in Florence … looking forward to your post. My top destination just now.

    1. I love this garden, Vivi. It’s just on the edge of Durham, with 2 tearooms! You should have been there 🙂 🙂 We were very lucky here- a lot of wind and rain but no serious storm damage. What’s it like up there?

      1. If I ever land … in your corner of the world – which I hope … we visit this garden. Stunning!!! No Doris what I have heard of, but we got some snow yesterday evening .. and it’s a bit cold and very sunny today. Lovely.

    1. They are all rather wonderful 🙂 Thank you! I’m so hoping the weather will be kind when we go to the Boboli and Giardini gardens, but … c’est la vie! (I can’t think of the Italian equivalent 🙂 )

  4. Such a pleasant stroll in a place of mystery. Every haunted place seems to have a “white lady”. I wonder if a lady ghost has ever been another color, like violet, for example. 😀

  5. What a wonderful post Jo -just needed a few minutes respite from the hustle and bustle and this was just the ticket. Looks such a pretty and peaceful place – I love secret gardens and can well imagine fairies and elves happily living there!! Not to mention a resident ghost or two in the house. I love the stonework and all the statues – can’t spot the koala though despite looking several times! Have I missed something? My eyes are fine according to my last check up! Have a lovely time in Florence and a well deserved break. Look forward to resuming walks in a couple of weeks or so, take care xx 🙂

  6. What a fabulous garden. You’re right, the setting is everything and the old house really does it. And it has good bones. Essential if a garden is going to look as good as this one at this time of year. The blue sky is back!

  7. Oh, I just love secret garden and this one here is no exception, just wish it was closer!! The photos are beautiful, atmospheric,the light superb and the writing is lovely and catches its special mystical aural. ‘It provides a benign backdrop, yet with an almost tangible air of mystery.’ Hope you’re having a wonderful time in Florence, that alone can provide posts for a couple of months!!

    1. I’m off to Florence on Sunday, Annika. Jaunted around the Yorkshire Dales, chasing the sun again today, and Fountains Abbey for the snowdrops last week 🙂 It’s usually just one outing a week but they give me such pleasure. And yes- I think you will be bombarded after Florence 🙂 🙂

      1. Yippee!! I loved Florence so I’ll look forward to your posts about the city. Ahh..Fountains Abbey, now I’m getting jealous! I have happy memories of all my trips there! 😀😀

  8. l’inverno ha rubato il colore arancione agli alchechengi,e al calicanto, chiazze di primavera qua e là posano sprazzi di colore tra le statue abbracciate dall’edera, un delizioso reportage nel giardino segreto
    mi piace moltissimo questo ambiente semi-selvaggio
    note felice
    ciao bella

  9. I have never been to Durham, this walk looks beautiful and it will be on my list when I finally get there. Have a fabulous time in Florence, I can’t wait to hear how you get on😄

  10. There was a Durham, New Hampshire very close to where we lived but not anything like this…lovely. The sleeping giant looks like he has been there years but I see he is only a few years old.

    1. There was SO much cake, you wouldn’t believe! 🙂 🙂 My husband was working nearby and left me to play for a couple of hours. Wasn’t I virtuous not to indulge? 🙂

  11. Have a wonderful time in Florence Jo! Durham looks absolutely beautiful and I have heard of The White Lady before (on one of those ghostly TV shows). The stone work is amazing and my favourite would have to be the lion arms on that chair – I want one 🙂 xxx

  12. Absolutely beautiful, I love Durham. I did smile at the secret garden helpfully labelled Secret Garden. Not now it isn’t! It’s a long time since I visited Florence but I loved it too. Hope you gave a great time.

  13. Lovely walk, Jo! It makes me want to go back to Durham. We didn’t have enough time to see all the sights,mthis one included. And thanks for the shoutout!

    1. You’re welcome, Ana 🙂 There is a lot to see in Durham, small though it is. A lot of construction going on at the minute. I hope it’s all finished for Lumiere in November.

  14. Another fabulous cathedral city, I’ve just come from Judes post and I can’t get either of you to come and see mine 🙂 🙂 🙂 These gardens are gorgeous, it takes a long time for a garden to settle in properly. I bet you’re excited about Sunday, you need a trip somewhere different to distract you. I’ve booked for September and as always I’m already bouncing. Take care sweetness and have a big hug from Devon xx

    1. What did you decide for September, Gilly? 🙂 I’ll get down your way one of these days. I need to get to April and then I should be free to plan again. Busy till then and don’t want to commit to anything else till James is sorted. Love you, darlin!

      1. Florence and a bit of a gad around a couple other places in Tuscany, woohoo! Don’t worry if there’s a possibility that you’ll move south I’ll come north before you do! Loves ya too honey 🙂

  15. Ahh dear Jo, how I have missed walking with you. What a stunningly beautiful post, you make me want to visit Crook Hall and it’s stunning gardens immediately. I feel the mystery of the place, and the sleeping giant particularly grabbed me for some strange reason…and of course, the delightful secret garden 🙂 Thank you for taking me with you, even if we didn’t get to share cake. Maybe next time. And have a wonderful time in Florence…a place I’ve wanted to visit but yet to do so. I’ll await your gorgeous photos in the meantime! xxx

    1. I think you could probably spin some good stories around the place, Sherri 🙂 I might not fancy being there late at night 🙂 But it is a lovely garden, and one to linger in. We could have sat and ‘put the world to rights’ in that cafe. No, we’d let the world look after itself and just enjoy each other’s company. 🙂 Thanks so much for joining me darlin. Sending hugs!

      1. Oh, now that would be so lovely! I can imagine it now, I am smiling at the very thought of sharing cake and tea with you and enjoying each other’s company, never minding what the world is doing! Always a pleasure to join you dear Jo…hugs right back! 🙂 xx

  16. I like your eye for detail, Jo. You do take time during your strolls to take everything in. I also like that the statues seem to be preserved as is and not renovated. The statue laying on the ground is quite unique and has to be my favorite! So peaceful…

    1. Yes, she’s rather odd, isn’t she? I hoped there would be more information on the website but there’s very little about the gardens. My favourite is the golden lady. I like her expression 🙂 And I agree, much better weathered and not renovated. Thanks for your company, Liesbet. I enjoyed our stroll.

    1. It’s rare for me to visit a garden so early in the year, Lisa. Mostly they’re still closed, except for the odd snowdrop walk. But it was such a very pleasant afternoon. Glad you enjoyed it, and many thanks for the walk. 🙂

  17. A lovely walk to share with you Jo. We were going to try and stay at the Crook Gardens, but the flat there is very expensive so we quashed that idea. Then I thought we’d park there and walk to the cathedral, but roadworks in the town put paid to that idea so we used the Park ‘n Ride into the city and that only really left us time to do the cathedral. Next time maybe 🙂

    More Lincoln for you:

    1. Pressed too soon! I saw the selfie and the koala – I bet someone is missing him! And I love the irises – always love to see them as my mum’s name was Iris and she had the bluest eyes too. I wonder what the poor monk thinks about sharing his space with those wanton fillies? All in all a pretty garden and one to see in all seasons I imagine. You are lucky having Durham on your doorstep, I liked the place a lot. 🙂

      1. It is a nice city! The Open Treasure exhibition space looks interesting, though not cheap, of course! It opens off the cloisters. Have to bite the bullet and take a look some time. 🙂 🙂 I like irises too, especially the tiny damson coloured ones. Nice about your Mum 🙂

      1. We left blue skies to do our usual go south and find the rain trick! 😦 Remember Burton Agnes? Phenomenal building, now that we’ve been inside to see an orchid show. It was the last day of their snowdrop walk. Better late than never. Haven’t even started my Monday walk yet so wish me luck- and thank you!

  18. Lovely post as ever. Not sure I would have left the dragon as his fiery breath would have been perfect to sit beside in the cool air. Hope all is well with you despite the lack of cake.

    1. That dragon was striking from a distance but a little strange close to. And it was surprisingly warm that afternoon! 🙂 🙂 The work situation for James has become increasingly difficult, but we met his new and very lovely lady for the first time at the weekend and he had a big smile on his face. How are things with you and Robert?

      1. oh perhaps then I wouldn’t sit there. Sorry to hear that about James’ work but how fabulous you have met the new woman in his life.
        We well apart from I have picked up a cold, so not done much for a few days. Hoping to get a long walk in though tomorrow 🙂

      2. Long time since I’ve been but there’s always a queue. I’d just prefer Vai e Volta. I wonder if it’s the location? (and the nice people who live there? 🙂 )

  19. It always astounds me to read of homes dating back more than 8 centuries. So many stories must have been seen by these walls and windows. If only they could talk, and what a beautiful garden. I hope you find lots of amazing cakes in Florence. Have a marvellous adventure.

    1. Thank you very much, Carol! I think Mick will be keeping a lookout for cakes as a bit of a respite from walking. 🙂 There’s quite an interesting link in the post to the history of Crook Hall. I don’t tend to write much of it because not everyone is interested, and if they are it’s easy enough to follow the link.

      1. No enthusiasm for the Minster sadly but we visited the coast at Hornsea where there was a wild sea on a windy day and then to Hull and the Museums which are well worth a visit!

      2. Hull is a dreadful place to get to. Awful approach from both west or north but the city centre is really worth a visit. The Old Town and the Museum Quarter and then the old docks, the Aquarium and the modern marina are all worth a visit. If you consider a stay over try the Premier Inn, it is in a superb location and has free parking while you stay.

        As for Beverley, I don’t remember a pottery but it is a nice town, well worth a visit, especially on a Saturday when there is a really good market!

  20. Another lovely Monday morning with you, my friend. I hope the weekend was as pleasant. You really surpass yourself with your prose today, and the photos (as always) are great. That golden riverbank shot is particular balm for the soul.

    1. Hello, darlin! It’s been a full on weekend and James lady was really lovely. Every little helps right now! 🙂 🙂 Thank you so much, Meg! How is the weather in Warsaw now? Farewells to beloved son today? Sending hugs to carry to Australia.

      1. He leaves here eagerly – or at least as eager as you can be at the prospect of 30 hours travelling and transferring – at 10.30 for a 3.40 flight! He’s a good member of our paranoid travelling family. Hugs back to you, and I’m so glad you liked the lady.

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