Penguins, playgrounds and fresh air at Harewood House, Yorkshire.
Harewood House is located 7 miles north of Leeds City centre on the way to Harrogate. For the kids it has large sprawling grounds to run around, a collection of birds including kukaburras, penguins and parrots. It’s no ‘Bird World’ but keeps us busy for 20 minutes exploring the cages. We spent some time willing the penguins to dive into their pool but the autumn chill meant they only teased us, standing precariously on the edge. Josh was hoping one would topple in with a comical “You’ve been framed” moment.
There is a large lake to explore surrounded by well planted wooded areas with a Himalayan garden at one end and a fruit & veg walled garden on the far side. We visited in the autumn when the gardens were not at their best but the kids didn’t mind since there are lots of features to distract them. The Himalayan gardens have a large Buddhist monument (The Harewood Stupa) built by actual monks from Bhutan, stepping stones across a stream, a waterfall and wind chimes which all went down well.
Eventually after a 20 minute walk, at the end of the lake we found the walled garden with all manner of vegetables growing. The pumpkins and scarecrows were abound when we visited a week before Halloween. The kids tried the scarecrow hunt but one remained elusive meaning we missed the chance to enter the competition draw to win a free family ticket.
The house itself and ornamental gardens are impressive. The large naked statue and the small Henry Moore exhibition had my kids bemused. Yes kids, that man with the puma around his neck does have no clothes on. My wife noted he was a ‘fine figure of a man’. I really do need to work on my six pack.
Lunch at the courtyard cafe was good with sausage and homemade chips, bagels and toasted teacakes washed down with lashings of hot chocolate. There is also the restaurant on the terrace if you feel like something a little more adventurous and grown up.
We finished the day off with a quick look downstairs in the old kitchens of the house. A few cooking demonstrations and a kids dressing up box kept things happy. This is where we found the small Henry Moore exhibition with several pieces looking like something I could do given enough plastecine.
There is a large modern adventure playground which my kids love. Mix this with the frisbee we bought from the giftshop and I have smiley children for an hour or so.
The venue hosts different attractions during the year. During the summer we have seen a temporary planetarium and a medieval festival with knights, battle re-enactments and hog roasts. Check out their website