Country Pursuits

Okay – this blog is called CultureLEEDS and so far all I’ve written about is libraries. Just like everyone else in the blogosphere, but six months late. Well, you know. Books count as culture, right?

I guess I see this blog/project as a kind of exploration of Leeds, of how to make the most of where we live, and of the little hidden gems that we know about but don’t necessarily enjoy as much as we could.

This week, in a bid to visit somewhere I have heard about but never been to, I took a trip to Lotherton Hall. About 20 minutes’ drive out of Leeds city centre, it’s a stately home with huge, gorgeous grounds, run and cared for by Leeds City Council.

After rocking up, the first thing I did was walk the Boundary trail – a pathway that goes around the edge of the Estate and, according to the website, affords ‘open views of the countryside’. I have to say I didn’t especially find that to be the case, as most of the edge of the grounds seems to be lined with six feet plus hedges and trees. But it was a pleasant, easy stroll, and I got to make friends with several over-excited dogs… It was actually a little bit more exercise than I anticipated doing so early on a Saturday morning, but I was glad I did it! (To clarify, it’s really not strenuous at all. I’m just lazy.)

Next I visited the Bird Garden. Unbelievably, there’s no charge at all to wander round in here, and they have some really eye-catching birds.

My favourites were definitely the flamingoes. It was so surreal on a drizzly Sunday morning to walk through a green garden and suddenly see a dash of pink, then another, then a whole flock!

Next stop was the formal gardens, and a good look at the house itself. The gardens are pristine, and really well looked after. I happily sat reading my book and enjoying my scenery for over half an hour.

Inside the House itself are some fantastic exhibitions. At the moment is a fantastic display of Native American Indian culture, entitled ‘Warriors of the Plains‘ which is slightly incongruous but absolutely worth a visit. It’s on until September 25th. That link will also show you some other upcoming exhibitions which look interesting and I can’t wait to take a look. Generally there’s no extra charge for the exhibitions, just the cost of entry to the House.

Overall, parking and 2 adults entry to the House would cost less than £10. If you only paid the parking, or if you bussed/walked it there (public transport details here) then you could still visit the gardens, the grounds and the bird garden. This is amazing value for money – don’t miss out! You could easily spend 2 or 3 hours here and spend less than you would at the cinema. Plus, think of the fresh air and the exercise! (Yeah, that kind of puts me off too. Forget I said that. Maybe scroll up and look at the flamingoes again, they’re honestly too cool.)

The House itself is open Tuesday to Saturdays, 10am to 5pm, as is the Bird Garden. In November and December, the House closes at 4pm and the Bird Garden at 3.30pm. There’s a nice little cafe selling tea and cakes. Parking costs £3.70. Admission to the House is £3 adult/£2.40 with a Leeds card/£1.50 concessions/£1 child.

The Estate is closed during January and February.

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