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!
There’s nothing nicer than a gentle stroll with Jude. Treat yourself!
Anabel ventured further up the coast from me, in some delightful villages :
Another coastal path for you, but Eunice is over on the other coast :
Two for the price of one from Eunice this week!
Imagine my surprise on seeing Ana’s post! Right on my very own doorstep :
Quite a leap of the imagination from Durham to Buenos Aires, Ana :
Jackie’s having fun down Mexico way- lovely bougainvillea!
I do love Woolly’s perspective on life!
Lady Lee is completely at home in the Philippines :
And Liesbet is pretty good at balancing a budget!
Amy’s back, and she’s chosen to ride, but who can blame her?
I love Yvette’s take on life, but brrrh, those Falls look chilly!
Drake is always irrepressible. Got to love him!
Isn’t it always walking weather? Well mostly, when you’re with Susan :
And Carol has a most appropriate question :
Rounding off with a highly informative walk from Denzil. He’s doing a grand job promoting Belgium :
And Cathy, beavering away in the States, but still found time to walk with me :
Remember- no Monday walk next week! But I’ll try to find you some cake in Florence. Stay safe till the next time!