The gardens are home to a beautiful snowdrop walk, which is perfect at this time of year to see the cute little white flowers peeping through in a sign that spring is on its way.
The centrepiece of the private estate is a rather grand red brick Georgian house which is still used as a home by the Wilbraham family, whose ancestors have been in residence since 1669.
When I was little, we often visited a gorgeous place in my hometown of Ilkley called Bluebell Woods, and walking through the snowdrops with Florence and her companions for the day, Karen’s twins Isobel and Eve, felt like a bit of a flashback to those moments.
The snowdrop walk can be done until the first week of March, but after that there is actually a bluebell walk which I’ll definitely be taking my children back to.
The house is in a place called Scholar Green near Congleton, which is a good hour away from where we live in Wirral but well worth making the trip. The site hosts the Just So festival in summer, a weekend-long camping festival for families, which I’d love to go to. With art, music, literature and theatre it was described as The Guardian as ‘the most family-friendly of the lot’.
The walk around the gardens was made into a treasure hunt for the children as we looked for the willow animals which have been made specially for the grounds. We were lucky enough to be shown around by Rode resident Amanda Wilbraham, who helped guide us in the right direction to find the willow stag, owl, hares, birds, fish, fox and heron.
The girls loved finding them and we found it hard to keep up with them as they ran up and down the woodland paths. The garden is full of little nooks and crannies, the walkways that look like tunnels as they’re covered over with trees; the stone paths which wind through the woods. One even takes you down to see a little cave complete with a witch’s broomstick and candles, an enchanting but slightly scary prospect for our two and four year olds!
The promise of lunch in the tearoom afterwards was more than enough to keep them going, and it didn’t disappoint. The cafe is housed in a barn to the side of the main house, heated with a wood burner and decorated with fairy lights, it was just what we needed to warm up after our walk.
The girls had sausage sandwiches while we had jacket potatoes with cheese and very welcome cups of tea, before we moved on (of course) to the cake.
I need to mention the homemade cakes as they all looked absolutely amazing. The one I went for, chocolate and beetroot, I am still dreaming about nearly a week later! So if you do visit, make sure to fit in a visit to the cafe too.
I know we’ll be heading back in a few months’ time for the bluebells, but if you would like to visit before then, the snowdrop walk is open Tuesday to Sunday from 11-4, and runs until 6 March.