Tuesday Trip – Yewbarrow House gardens

Here in the UK the National Garden Scheme (NGS) opens up beautiful gardens around the country with the entry fees going to charity. There are now hundreds of gardens of all styles and sizes taking part, all listed in a famous ‘little yellow book’. We picked up a copy recently and found that we’d missed most of the open days which were earlier in the summer, but there were still a handful available to visit.

One of the nearest (in both miles and date) was Yewbarrow House in Grange-over-Sands. It’s open on the first Sunday of the month, June to September, which just happened to be this weekend, so we grabbed our cameras and hopped in the car.

It was well worth the trip. The garden belongs to a Victorian house on the (steep) hillside above the town and extends to over 4 acres, although part of this is as-yet-undeveloped woodland. It clings to the (steep) slopes and rocky outcrops on a series of terraces, each encompassing different areas such as a sculpture garden, Japanese garden with infinity pool, gravel garden, and Italian terrace, dotted with Victorian-style buildings, unusual features and artworks by sculptor Alan Ward.

There are two ways in, both involving a breath-stealing walk up the (steep) streets from the town centre. Needless to say we picked the lower, less formal entrance, which took us up some (precipitous) limestone steps through woodland and ferns, to the terrace in front of the house. From there we wound our way round and up (but mostly up) past some amazing carved rocks in the sculpture garden (*cough* that’s a hint for yesterday’s mystery, by the way!), across a tea lawn, through the Japanese garden, then up the (steep) paths of the Italian “terrace” (more diagonal than a level walk) to the higher levels.

I’ve often read that Grange has a micro-climate thanks to the fact that it faces south-west and is sheltered by hills. This garden really proves the point; on a sunny day it was really hot, and there are simply heaps of exotic and even tropical plants growing quite happily. Apparently the palms have grown a foot a year since they were first planted, which really wouldn’t be the case in the rest of Cumbria.

Right at the very top of the (steep) slope there’s a viewing tower with amazing views over Morecambe Bay, and a palm house with statues of local worthies (including a rather odd one of a bearded man labelled as Beatrix Potter!) and a pool. This was perhaps my least favourite part of the garden; from the outside it looked authentic but the water features were more hotel spa than Victorian cascade and didn’t fit so well with the rest of the garden. However, this is very much a private, personal space for the garden’s owners and it was certainly impressive.

After that we tottered back down the slopes (did I mention that they’re steep?) via a lovely greenhouse with some rescued stained-glass windows (above) and a turret with a statue of a little girl reading a book. I think this is a portrait of one of the family and very sweet, although much as I love reading, I’m not sure I could concentrate on a book faced with a view like that. Sadly, the conditions were so hazy that my photos of the bay didn’t really come out. We’ll have to come back another time when it’s clearer, and when I’ll be wearing hiking boots to cope with the terrain!


  1. That stained glass though. Thanks so much for my regular dose of travelling around the world from the comfort (and safety, in this era) of my own home!

    1. I was delighted that the stained glass panels framed that Japanese-looking tree in the background! And yes, living through other people’s blogs provides welcome escape at the moment.

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