Your Day Out: Breathtakingly beautiful

Burnby Hall Gardens
Burnby Hall Gardens

Market towns are always packed full of tradition and heritage, and Pocklington seems to be one of Yorkshire’s best-kept secrets.

Nestled at the foot of the Wolds, it’s just 11-13 miles from the city of York. Known as the gateway to the Wolds, Pocklington is a small market town built on an ancient settlement. Even today it still has a thriving market every Tuesday.

However, the crowning glory of Pocklington’s tourist destinations is undoubtedly Burnby Hall Gardens. The first time we viewed them we were completely overawed by their magnificence.

Now life-members, we love nothing more than visiting such a haven of beauty and tranquillity. It boasts the largest collection of water lilies in Europe, and attracts thousands of visitors each year.

Located close to the town centre, the gardens were created by Major Percy Stewart, born in 1871. After travelling the world eight times between 1906 and 1926 he brought back to Pocklington, as a record of his travels, a unique collection of artefacts which are now housed in the Stewart Museum beside the Lilypad cafe.

Major Stewart then settled down in his home at Burnby Hall, and encouraged by his wife, gave up big game hunting in favour of pursuing various species of water lilies.

Actually they complemented his earlier interest in fishing, which was his original reason for constructing the garden’s two superb lakes, to provide private trout fishing.

Major Stewart died in 1962 and left his gardens in a trust for the benefit of local people. They are a jewel in Yorkshire’s crown, and provide you with a wonderful array of changing vistas.

The upper and lower lakes contain the vast array of hardy water lilies in a natural setting. They can be seen in full splendour throughout summer, reaching their peak between June and August.

The rockeries are a firm favourite with youngsters. They love exploring narrow pathways, stone steps and tiny bridges.

The Stumpery was the latest feature we viewed. It’s similar to a rockery, but made with upturned roots of large trees. Stumperies are a Victorian horticultural oddity to emphasise the beauty of nature, and create a haven for wildlife. Can you see anyone hiding there?

The Victorian garden is breathtakingly beautiful with flowering perennials, and a pergola walk. Close by is the aviary, where children can meet the birds, having fed the gigantic fish in the lake.

Then there’s the secret garden too, which mustn’t be missed. What’s there? That’s a secret!

The Stewart Museum and Lilypad Cafe are perfect places to relax. Choose from a variety of drinks, light meals and snacks, or just have an ice cream whilst enjoying a beautiful view of the gardens.

Close by is the band stand, where the hugely popular brass band concerts are performed from 2pm until 4pm, on Sundays as programmed.

The play area was designed for both disabled and able-bodied children, and at the visitor centre you’ll find free quizzes, trails and activities for children of all ages.

You won’t be able to resist a peep inside the modern gift and book shop with a range of interesting and unusual gifts and books. Choose a real memento of your visit.

Finally, the good news is that the gardens, cafe, gift shop, toilets and museum are all wheelchair and pushchair friendly. There are two viewing platforms to the edge of the lake too. Wheelchairs are available to borrow free of charge.

Go now, whilst we can all still enjoy summer days. The memories of your stroll around Burnby Hall Gardens and Museum will last a life-time. Then explore the market town of Pocklington itself.

There is an admission charge which includes entry into the Stewart Museum too.

Telephone: 01759 307125 for details.