Bedford MK44 3RW
A sunny and warm (relatively speaking – i.e. not that warm) February day is enough to tempt us out of hibernation and venture Out there and top up our diminishing Vitamin D with the wintery sun which insists that Spring is on the way! It is Snowdrop time of year, and because the ones in our garden seem to have vanished we have decided to go and find a countrified Snowdrop walk. Moggerhanger Park boasted “Snowdrops are coming!” in a January post on its website, so let’s see whether they had arrived yet.
According to their web-site Moggerhanger Park is a “Grade 1 listed Georgian Historic House set in 33 acres of parkland and woodland. It is recognised as the most complete surviving example of Soane's work set in stylish grounds and woodlands sculpted by Humphry Repton.” You’ll find it between Bedford and Sandy just off the A603. It’s not difficult to locate assuming your Satnav is behaving itself, or your navigator knows where she is on the map, and the two of them are not arguing with each other!
As you proceed up the long drive you will see that there is plenty of parking with a separate area signposted for disabled parking and space for 5 or 6 cars. The car park is tarmac so Titania will have no hassle with gravel here. On this trip we had no plans to look around the house itself, we couldn’t anyway as it doesn’t open for tours until March. There is apparently a £5 charge for a tour around the house when it is open, but the grounds are accessed free.
From the car park we headed off to the woodland walk which is advertised as being around ¾ mile in length; just right for a breath of fresh air Out there and hopefully satisfying our desire for Snowdrops.
En route from the car park we were briefly distracted from our aim of the woodlands, by a tempting little grassy path which led round to the front of the house giving a fine view of the building itself in all its glory. Standing in the grounds was a magnificent ancient copper beech its winter bones reaching into the blue sky. We stopped for a few minutes to watch a bright little nuthatch which was foraging amongst the branches and on the ground around the tree.
Following this brief detour we made our way back onto the main path (at this stage an easy going tarmac path) and followed it past the walled garden which they are in the process of returning to its former splendour. No sidetracking this time though it’s probably going to be worthy of another trip here later in the year to see how well they’ve done.
We next passed the cafe – this we would our little reward for getting some exercise around the woodland - a cup of tea and a scone on the way back.
And so through the children’s adventure play area into the woodland walk itself. The path surface is bark chippings, which considering the previous day had been one of constant rain Titania found pretty firm and relatively easy going. As we moved further into the woods we found the snowdrops! The path goes meandering through the wood, with occasional forks, one of which allows you onto a longer two mile trek which takes you along the side of the fields and onto the country roads before finding yourself back in the car park. We went only a short distance down this path as far as the view point where you can look at the Royston Hills on the horizon. This does involve going through a kissing-gate perfectly sized for Titania and any wheelchairs of larger dimension. However, as I said, we didn’t fancy the longer walk and so turned round going back into the woods.
It was a lovely walk accompanied by the spring sound of woodland birds singing their hearts out in the trees, occasionally flitting to and fro across our path, and as we progressed through the woodland the carpet of snowdrops became more impressive. It was clear that later in the year, daffodils and later still, bluebells would take over when the snowdrops faded.
Eventually the path we took led us out to the car-park and back past the walled garden again and to the cafe. Different paths in the woods would have looped back through the adventure play area, but the result would have been the same ... that cup of tea and scone which was promised.
The cafe has flat access and there is an easy access and clean disabled loo available in the building. In the cafe itself the tables and chairs are not fixed so it would have been fairly straight forward to get Titania close up to the table. It was, however, quite busy on that Pancake-day Tuesday, so we ordered our refreshments and sat at one of the handful of tables outside absorbing more of that sun. A generous pot of tea and tasty scones were soon delivered and devoured.
So it was just a short visit to Moggerhanger Park, but very enjoyable. We’ll probably go back for the bluebells, and maybe on that occasion we might look around the house. The blurb says the entrance is ramped, and apparently Titania can get around the ground floor so it should be interesting – but all that is for another day Out there .
Richard & Di.