Breezy Knees is a garden, nursery and café at Stockton on the Forest near York which I had heard of a while ago but was somewhat put off by the silly name. However, we’d been told it was good so thought we would go and – wow! It’s lovely!
The café seems to be quite a draw judging by the numbers of people –we didn’t sample it so I can’t comment! – but the gardens are extensive enough that it didn’t feel remotely crowded despite the numbers.
The different areas are separated by fences or hedges and you can visit gardens for different times of the year plus the beautifully scented rose garden, the shade garden, rock garden, cottage garden and many more, including fountains and ponds.
The paths are mainly tarmac or fine gravel, some are rougher gravel and some are grass – this was a bit bumpy for comfort but we didn’t have to go that way, we could have back tracked and stayed on the smoother paths. There are also plenty of benches.
It’s all accessible apart from a couple of sections, which the staff explained and marked on the map for us but there was plenty to see anyway. The café is accessible too – also lots of the seating is outside and there is an accessible loo, although this was a little tight for the scooter I was using which is 50cm wide There is ample parking with some reserved for blue badge holders.
I can definitely see us going for a return visit – you can get a season ticket which would make it worthwhile if you planned to visit four or more times a year.
A friend once told me that our family had a thing about making the most of rhododendron time and I must say I do seem to have a deep-rooted sense that you ought to get out there and see daffodils, bluebells, blossom,
rhododendrons, roses etc when they are looking their best!
So after not going there for years, we went to Moorlands to the north of York
to see the rhododendrons! It had rained a little that morning so there was the most glorious damp woodsy smell but the sun was now out and so were the birds – there must have been hundreds of them singing their heads off and we very clearly heard a cuckoo calling. There were plenty of rhododendrons and azaleas in bloom but also
plenty yet to flower so it would be worth visiting in the next couple of weeks.
It is managed by the Yorkshire Wildlife Trust and it is not large so makes a good short visit – there is a circular route which takes you past a couple of ponds as well as through the woods and for the able-bodied, there’s a bird hide up some steps. There are plenty of benches and carved posts showing you the wildlife to look out for (we spotted a couple of bunnies!) as well as information boards about the wildlife and the history of the place. The YWT also manage Askham Bog which we visited earlier in the year.
In very wet weather I can imagine Moorlands would be very muddy but despite the morning’s rain, when we went it was just damp albeit with a few easily-avoided puddles. The path is mainly just earth: a little uneven in places but nothing drastic, largely flat and with room for passing. The main obstacle is a kissing-gate at the entrance, but I was able to negotiate it on my scooter with a three-point turn. (OK, maybe slightly more than three!) Parking is by the roadside outside the gate – there is space for about a dozen cars and the road is quiet so it was all perfectly easy.
I definitely recommend this for a visit at any time but especially at this time of year – rhododendron time!