Kris’ Family Day Out to Harewood House

20th August 2020

Kris tells us all about a recent trip to Harewood House with his young children.

Being a large family with four children under 13, we like to visit places which have something for everyone.  Harewood House, Leeds, is always high on the list of places to visit, especially if the weather is nice.  It’s become a firm family favourite over the last 10 years or so, with so much to see and do.  It’s a full day out!

Humboldt Penguins at Harewood House, Leeds - credit Harewood House Trust and Harriet Skinner

(A Humboldt Penguin  – credit Harewood House Trust and Harriet Skinner)

This year has been a little different but our trip to Harewood was just as special and enjoyable.  As chance would have it, we arrived at penguin feeding time.  Family groups were kept at safe distances from each other and still had the time and space to watch these wonderful birds dart about in the water catching their fish.  A passing heron took the opportunity to chance a free meal, much to the bemusement of the penguins and the amusement of the children watching.

After the penguins we took one of two routes through the bird garden and made sure we saw all our favourites such as the emu, laughing kookaburra and the magnificent flamingos who stood statuesque at the water’s edge.

Chilean Flamingos credit Harewood House Trust

(Chilean Flamingos – credit Harewood House Trust)

Next it was time for lunch; we decided to mix and match so had a picnic at one of the tables outside the courtyard and then picked up a sweet treat from within the Courtyard Café.  Looking up whilst having our lunch we saw several Red Kites soaring high above looking for their next meal.  Once fuelled up we were ready to explore more of the magnificent grounds.

We headed down the paths that border the lake and took a moment to enjoy the view from one of the lovely wooden benches with its matching canopy.  No shelter from the rain was needed on this occasion but it was a cooler spot in the shade to admire the wonderful view of the lake and surrounding woodlands.

The view of Harewood House from the lake - credit Harewood House Trust

(The view of Harewood House from the lake – credit Harewood House Trust)

We then headed off down the well-marked one way system paths through the Himalayan Gardens.  These were full of interesting plants from Asia including towering bamboos and strange cobra lilies.  The path leads to the famous stepping stones that cross the beck.  Not for the faint hearted, it was left to dad to brave the steps across the water whilst the rest of the young family watched on.  Safely across to the other side we all met up on a buggy friendly bridge.

We passed the inspiring stone Stupa, built by Buddhist monks in 2004 before taking a stroll around the Walled Gardens.  It was already mid-afternoon and we had so much more we wanted to do and see!

The Adventure Playground was not open during our visit  (although has since reopened) but the children were not disappointed as the ice cream van was open and a new play space including hay bale maze provided lots of fun for them all.

The waterfall in the Himalayan Gardens at Harewood House, Leeds - credit Harewood House Trust

(The Himalayan Gardens – credit Harewood House Trust)

Next we took a saunter through the remarkable terrace with its manicured plants and bold statues, topped off with the most amazing view across the 120 acres of landscaped grounds.  The children pretended to be Lord and Ladies of the manor as we looked back at the house from the Terrace.

We then explored the Archery Border, an easily missed part of the grounds as it’s nestled just below the Terrace but well worth looking out for.  In complete contrast to the rolling fields and woodland that the border looks out onto, the border is festooned in bright colour and dramatic exotic plants such as bananas and fiery gingers.

The views from the terrace of Harewood House, Leeds - credit Harewood House Trust and Lee Beal

(The views from the terrace – credit Harewood House Trust and Lee Beal)

We climbed back up the stone steps and onto the Terrace once more and realised it was time for home.  We hadn’t even explored the superb house and below stairs areas.  That will have to wait for another day.  We all really enjoyed our day back at Harewood and will be back soon to one of our favourite places in Yorkshire.

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