In a nutshell
A beautiful, four-acre Victorian garden in the Yorkshire Dales that is full of secrets, oddities and tricks. What starts as a gentle saunter – a squirting statue here, a baffling gate there – quickly turns into an enchanting, bewildering underground-overground labyrinth of passages, pathways, spiral staircases, stepping stones, revolving floors, pop-up fountains and wooden doors to somewhere – or nowhere. It’s genius.
It was never designed as a family attraction. In 1989, owner Colin Armstrong did a spot of digging with plans for a small grotto to amuse family and friends but it grew into something a whole lot bigger and crazier. In 1994, he opened it to the public.
Best thing about it
The excitement of endless choices and discoveries. Even our teenagers were leaping around, screeching: “You have to see the bit down there!”
What about lunch?
The Corner Cafe’s mammoth menu means it serves everything from soup (£4) to sandwiches (from £4.20), baked potatoes (£4.70) to lasagne (£7) and fish and chips (£7.70). The Saddle Room, which is divided into five sections and has been converted from racehorse stables, serves a posher lunch or dinner (£10-£20).
Exit through the gift shop?
Yep, through an abundance of toys and Forbidden Corner-branded stuff (books and badges, magnets and clothing). But you can also get a book that tells the backstory of this place.
As befits somewhere called Forbidden Corner it’s not the easiest to get to, if you don’t have a car: the nearest railway station is Northallerton, 22 miles away. A bus services runs to Leyburn, roughly 5 miles from t’Corner. For motorists, the attraction is signposted from Middleham and from the A684 in Leyburn.
Value for money?
Oodles. Adults £11.50; Children (4-15) £9.50. We spent three hours there and still hadn’t explored every nook and cranny.
Daily until 31 October. Monday-Saturday noon-6pm; Sundays and bank holidays 10am-6pm. Pre-book tickets.
10/10 from everyone except the six-year-old who gave it a nine because “it was a bit scary sometimes”.