If you had seen my Silent Sunday post in the last 2 weeks you might have wondered where that lovely picture of K’Boo in the tree was taken, well here is the story behind the picture ….
Last Sunday, HonieDaddy, K’Boo and me put on the comfy shoes (Timberland’s still evident of mud from the last walk) and took the Jessie (the Jeep) over and up (it’s on a hill) to Haigh Hall & Country Park, nr Wigan. It’s not a long drive for us – in fact we were there in 20 minutes! But, if you had to go a little bit or a lottle bit further than us, then it’s worth a visit with the family.
Haigh Hall, is set in a country park between Wigan, Blackrod and Worthington (nr to Standish, Coppull & Adlington) is accessible from the A6, A49 and the M6 & M61 (so not too difficult to get to).
You could go by boat if you knew the river Douglas :o) Don’t hold me to that. Despite being near to road links the site is so large (set in 250 acres of park and woodland) the road entrance to the park itself is far from anywhere, up winding country roads – perfect for a day away from it all. If you are walking, you can come in via the long driveway to Haigh Hall and access the park via the A49 directly across from Wigan Infirmary – but cars are not allowed in via this route and parking near the infirmary is far from easy!
So assuming you have come into the park via the country lanes, there are a couple of car parks and disabled parking is also available, one of the car parks is permit only when there is a wedding on at the hall – on this day, there was 2! We parked without any trouble on the larger car park and they had an attendant on (not usual in the week).
Haigh Hall has it’s own 18 hole golf course (told you it was big) and so naturally there is a golf shop here too.
We went at lunch time – but ahem, OK there is a down side to every story and I thought I’d better get this out of the way now – right now!
I don’t like the cafe! I have been on Toddle Walks with friends here in the past and had a bad experience in there then – but HonieDaddy had never been to Haigh Hall and thought we shouldn’t need to take a packed lunch. It was agreed after the day’s experience that we would probably get a pub lunch early before we went next time (or I will convince HonieDaddy that picnics on the lawn are actually very nice and child/family friendly things to do).
Why don’t I like the cafe? Don’t get me started: the queue is ‘huge’ the staff unresponsive, the food is not that good and children’s meals are the unbelievably overpriced – a juice cup, a sausage roll and a tiny cup cake for £2.80 (I kid you not!). But if you like struggling to communicate with the people who serve you food and having to clean your own table and then eating of a paper plate – go ahead!
There are tables outside of the cafe in a lovely courtyard, surrounded by a few craft shops, where people were happily having lunch with their own picnic lunches and you can also go out onto the lawns and near to the children’s play area (a fabulous play area) and picnic there if you like. In fact, we saw quite a few picnicing around the park while we were there (“Are you listening HonieDaddy?”)
The children’s play area consists of: an area for toddlers with swings, a bridge style climbing frame (several ways to get up) with a slide and a sand pit; a train with a tunnel to crawl through; a general area with swings for older and younger children and a toddler swing area with a swing for children with disabilities (like a cradle). Near to the play area is a crazy golf course (but this is only open in the Summer). The play area is sectioned of with small fences and so well organised and it is clean.
Along the path is a statue of a lion that K’Boo was intrigued by and just had to climb on it’s back, she even had to roar a few times (rather loudly) and of course, it was just to difficult for HonieDaddy to resist getting a snap of this.
A little further into the park is a walled pool with a fountain (very pretty and calming) and then a little further 3 walled gardens: the first is closed to the public and I suspect is used for growing and maintaining all of the flower beds in the park. You can see into it – but only though a locked gate; the second consists of a lawns and shrubbery and flowers in beds around the perimeter, with walled beds in the centre forming a pattern. There are benches and it’s lovely to walk through, take photographs and even .. picnic (you guessed!); the third walled garden is larger and contains some fabulous clusters of trees, lots of open grass lawn and an abundance of flowers and shrubs to enlighten any walker, photographer or simply a family taking time out to have fun. You could happily kick a ball about in this area and feel confident that your family was near and yet had so much space to play in.
The park continues along paths through rhododendron bushes and winds out of site around many corners and up and down mild slopes. There is a small train that crosses the pathway a few times an circles this end of the park offering rides from the little station located there.
While walking back toward the car park, past the play area and to your left, you can drop down (not like from the sky, down a sloping path) toward the magnificent hall. Haigh Hall is a listed building dating back to 1850 and was previously the home of the Earl of Crawford and Balcarres. It is a magnificent unspoiled building that screams period style and is the place you dream of donning your beautiful wedding dress and pretend you have been whisked back in time to where your Prince Charming awaits you: the long driveway, the grand entrance, chandeliers, the magnificent staircase, the ballroom, the high ceilings and even the velvet curtains draped at the tall windows, offering amazing views from every aspect. We were lucky enough to see one of the brides (and groom) in photo session outside of the hall. This is the only time I resisted taking my camera out (not because it did not compare to that of the wedding photographer, no!) because it’s a time that it just isn’t the done thing, unless you are one of the wedding party, where usually the photographer isn’t phased by you using your mini digitals anyway. This is the bit when he usually grimaces at us, lol. So we like taking photos and HonieDaddy and I consider it a passion (we wish we had the time to make it a profession!). So no photos of the hall today, sorry – you’ll have to visit the website.
Here is a few more of the photos we took – hope you like them.