We take our children to the Forbidden Corner in the Yorkshire Dales to see if it lives up to the hype
What is it?
The Forbidden Corner is a weird and wonderful family attraction, billed as the strangest place in the world.
This four-acre garden is a maze of paths, mysterious tunnels, doors, steps and underground chambers. Plus, quirky statues, strange noises and jets of water catching people unawares.
It was first created for private use and later opened to the public.
Where is it?
It is in Leyburn in North Yorkshire, in the heart of the Yorkshire Dales.
What did we think?
This is a unique family attraction, unlike anywhere else we have been. Our children were quite scared in parts but came away saying they had loved it.
Watch our exclusive video before reading our highlights and top tips below!
*The ‘map’ you are given upon entry is not a map. There is no route, it shows you pictures of all the things you need to find in the garden, in no particular order, so take a pen to tick them off. There is no way to tell how big the site is or where anything is, it is a labyrinth with endless nooks and crannies to explore.
*We got there when it opened (11am the day we went) and there were only a few people waiting to get in, plus it never felt too busy as they limit numbers via booked entry times. You can stay as long as you want so I understand it may get much busier later on.
*There are several parts where you may get wet. Your movement triggers water sprays that will catch you if you stop. These bits are fun for children to run through, once they have built up the courage.
*When you think you must have seen everything, you find a whole new section or more paths to try.
*The carved wooden play area is beautiful.
*The cafe is reasonably priced with good options for children.
*Don’t just turn up, you are unlikely to get in, you must book in advance and they limit numbers to prevent overcrowding. Book via the website.
*The first surprise you come to is a giant square head (main picture) – you make your way through its large mouth and it makes a loud burping noise as you pass its throat – if your children are scared of this as ours were, there are small paths each side to bypass it. They can maybe try it later if they’re feeling braver (our son later did it twice).
*There are other parts that can be frightening to some younger children or anyone who might be claustrophobic or frighten easily – in fact the whole experience is equivalent to a mildly scary haunted house at a theme park. It is free to children aged three and under because of this. There are underground parts that you can avoid – including the ‘mausoleum’ which has warnings outside and is not for the faint-hearted – our children didn’t do this bit.
*There is a word hunt where you look for brass letters and make rubbings of them, which adds excitement.
*To find everything, you have to explore every path and every option and some lead to dead ends. Check all the doors even if they look like they won’t open. Some parts are easy to miss like the play area or the little garden off it with a fountain which has a ‘show’ every 15 minutes.
*Make sure everyone goes to the toilet before entering the garden! There is apparently a toilet in the garden, but we never found it. There is one toilet in the play area, others where you queue to get in and outside by the car park.
*Try to stay together as it would be easy to lose each other and there is patchy phone signal. Keep hold of toddlers particularly as there can be steep steps around a corner or various paths to navigate and you won’t know which they have taken.
*If you need accommodation, there are apartments and barn conversions next to the entrance to Forbidden Corner. This was fully booked when we looked and we ended up staying at a youth hostel 25 minutes away, with stunning surroundings, see here for our review.
*You exit through a gift shop but the prices are reasonable.
*Forbidden Corner has special ‘blue days’ where you get four tickets for the price of three.
Forbidden corner information
Food: There are tables in the garden but picnics are restricted to a spot near to the car park. There’s a nice, reasonably priced cafe with children’s meals like pizza and chips and spaghetti bolognese (£3.45), plus jacket potatoes, paninis, pies (£2.10) and sandwiches. And cakes (special mention for the divine caramel and chocolate cake I devoured).
There is also a restaurant next to the car park.
Opening hours: Open every day for around seven months of the year. Opening hours vary and you will be given an entry time when you book online (don’t just turn up). If you want to book on the day, call 01969 640638.
Cost: Adults £13, children (four to 15) £11, children three and under free, family ticket (two adults and two children) £46.
Best for: Ages seven to 12.
Time needed: At least three hours.
Access and restrictions: You can not take a pushchair or pram around, there are steps and narrow paths. It is also not suitable for wheelchairs. Dogs are not allowed at Forbidden Corner, only guide dogs.
Address: The Forbidden Corner, Tupgill Park Estate, Coverham, Middleham, Leyburn, North Yorkshire. Use the postcode DL8 4TQ for sat navs.
Have you been to the Forbidden Corner? What did you think? We’d love to hear from you.
We were given free entry for the purpose of this review, all views are our own.