The Walled Gardens at Croome Court
The Gardeners Cottage,
Worcestershire WR8 9DW,
In the early spring last year we were invited to the friend’s wedding near Shrewsbury. We decided to make a long weekend of it and go out there to a few places in the area before and after the wedding festivities. Our first stop was to be the National Trust’s Croome Estate. This visit was en route to Shrewsbury, a break in the journey as it were, so we planned only to spend a couple of hours out there to stretch our limbs, perhaps to see the newly re-established Walled Kitchen Garden at Croome Court, and to get a bite to eat. Of course when we arrived at Croome and realised the scale of it we knew that we would be simply scratching at the surface. So as you read this bear in mind that there is much more to this National Trust site that we did not get to see, and watch out for a part 2 visit on Access-Out-There some time soon.
Croome is a National Trust property notable for being Capability Brown’s first commission, with the Court itself at the heart of the marvellous Malverns landscape near Worcester. The Parkland boasts many different walks, from woodland to lakeside and the history celebrated at the site includes its use as an RAF airbase in WW2. By car it can be found off junction 7 of the M5 following the brown signs off B4084 from Pershore or off A38 from Worcester/Upton.
As is becoming more common with National Trust properties there is a very good document on the Croome website detailing the accessibility of the site. The NT is to be applauded for these “Access Statements”. Thank you National Trust! The link below will take you directly to the Croome access guide.
Leaving the visitor centre we found ourselves on the wilderness walk. The wilderness had been trimmed back recently and the lightly gravelled path was a good width so as to accommodate Titania and other traffic such as buggies heading in the opposite direction without congestion issues. The trimmed rhododendrons which flanked the path would be stunning a little later in the year when they are in full bloom. We were quickly through the wilderness emerging by the church. In front of us the wide vista of the park opened up. Paths headed off in different directions either winding out to the various walks around the parkland or down the hill towards the magnificence of the Croome Court itself. If going these distances poses a problem the Access Statement tells us that “a shuttle bus service is provided regularly between the Visitor Centre and Croome Court” or alternatively that a mobility scooter is available and can be booked.
Today’s visit for us was about stretching legs, arms or wheels so we eschewed these temptations, realising that time would only allow us to touch lightly on what Croome had to offer. We stuck to our original plan and followed the path which went round the church towards the Walled Garden. The path became stonier here and Titania without her FreeWheel would have probably preferred to go on the grass verge of the trail. However, with the FreeWheel we pressed on without cause to falter. The first of the bluebells were just beginning to provide a little colour under the trees as we pushed on down the path and, unusually for us, passed by a bird hide without stopping to see what we could spot.
We passed through an open gate where the path became a little easier and the trees gave way to fields before coming down to the outer wall of the Walled Garden. Had we continued on the path we would have been taken around the back of the garden via the Rotunda and on down to the back of the Court. Instead we stopped at a little gazebo, and paid our £5 to enter the Walled Garden which is not part of the National Trust property but is a project of love for a family restoring it to its former glory.
Through the doorway into the garden we discovered a large walled garden spread out in front of us. A lot of work has been done over the years to recover the garden from its abandoned state. Seeing it in the early spring we were seeing the bare bones of the garden as it was laid out. The paths as we entered were easy to roll on for Titania but as we went down the hill into the main part of the garden, first the paths became gravelly and then they had been carefully restored back to their original surfaces, beautiful cobbles around the dipping pool, and ancient rough stone paths around to the glass houses. Authentic and good to look at but tricky even for Titania with her FreeWheel. Actually the paths could be tricky for anyone with mobility issues even if they are not in their own version of Titania. In the meantime Titania pushed on anyway, with some extra power provided at times by Di. So we managed to wander the old paths and round the glass houses. There was much of interest to see.
On leaving the Walled Garden we retraced our steps with a brief detour to look at the thatched Ice House (from the outside only for Richard because of steps Titania was unable to navigate). Back near the visitor centre the restaurant beckoned. Themed on a WW2 RAF canteen, the cheese scones were lovely and went down well with a cup of tea. Then it was time to get back on the road.
Croome Estate is a big place and we had just partaken of one small slice of it with our trundle down to the Walled Garden and around it. We only saw Croome Court from atop the hill by the church, and so didn’t find out what delights were on view inside it. Somewhere in the parkland is a lake which we didn’t even catch sight of, and we hardly set foot (or wheel) on the various walks around the park. There is a lot more Out there which needs to investigated, so Croome is on the list for a return visit which we will let you know about on Access-Out-There.
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Richard & Di
26th February 2017