The Forbidden Corner, Wensleydale

“The strangest place in the world”, a labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises for adults and children of all ages.

Entrance to The Forbidden Corner. Photo by Pete<sup>1</sup>

Entrance to The Forbidden Corner1

The Forbidden Corner is a “unique labyrinth of tunnels, chambers, follies and surprises”, the brainchild of Colin Armstrong.

Lying deep within Tupgill Park, 5 miles south of Leyburn in the Yorkshire Dales, it was originally created as a private garden, and opened to the public in 1994.

There are a wealth of delights and surprises, paths that lead nowhere, others that reveal amazing spectacles. An exhilarating experience for adults and children.

A bit of history

Forbidden Corner garden wall. Photo by Paul Brooker<sup>2</sup>

Forbidden Corner garden wall2

The Forbidden Corner started innocuously enough. A wood was planted to provide a wind break to the stables at Tupgill Park. Later, Colin Armstrong along with his friend and architect, Malcolm Tempest, decided to create a small bower to enjoy the view down the Coverdale valley. A wall was built as shelter, which developed into a walled garden.

While this was going on, the idea of a grotto was floated. ‘Floated’ is an appropriate word as, during the building of the grotto, heavy rains then the discovery of an underground spring threatened to wash the project away. Boulders that were found during the digging were kept to be used later.

News of the work spread and ideas flooded in. As a result, a boulder canyon and a pyramid of molten glass were created. Gardens were planted and a maze put in. Paths were laid and expanded, tunnels built, passages created, weird and wonderful statues installed.

Public visits started with a request from Hull University in 1993 for students to visit the garden. Their reaction in part persuaded Colin Armstrong to open the garden to the public and an entrance tower was built. The Forbidden Corner was officially opened to visitors on 23 July 1994.

Closure threat

Large sculpture in The Forbidden Corner. Photo by Andy Waddington<sup>3</sup>

Large sculpture in The Forbidden Corner3

In 2001, however, the garden faced a serious threat. To its very existence. The Yorkshire Dales National Park Authority is charged with ensuring that the Park is charged with protecting and conserving the National Park and helping others share in and enjoy it. Strict planning laws are in force with permission needed for any building work.

Colin Armstrong and Malcolm Tempest had not sought planning permission to build and open the gardens and the Authority issued a closure order. Thankfully, commonsense was applied and the decision was overturned on appeal.

The Forbidden Corner today

Secret Temple in The Forbidden Corner. Photo by Bev Dickinson<sup>4</sup>

Secret Temple in The Forbidden Corner4

The gardens remain a very successful and popular attraction, with unceasing maintenance and development. They have been voted the best European folly of the 20th century by the Folly Fellowship and best children’s attraction in Yorkshire.

Since opening, both a Corner Café and a gift shop have been added. The café offers a wide range of drinks and meals for every appetite and the gift shop has a wide selection of momentos, traditional and, as you would expect, some that are more unusual.

Opening times and admission prices

2015 Opening Times

  • Everyday 28th March – 31st October then Sundays until Christmas
  • Monday – Saturday 12 noon – 6 pm (or dusk if earlier)
  • Sundays and bank Holidays 10 am – 6 pm (or dusk if earlier)

Unfortunately no dogs are permitted in the garden except guide dogs.
Free Parking is available.

Entrance prices

You must book your tickets in advance. Tickets can be booked online or by phone on (+44) 01969 640638.

Prices are:

    • Adults: £11.50
    • Senior Citizens: £10.50
    • Children aged 4 to 15: £9.50 – Children under 4 enter for free.
    • Family (2 adults + 2 children): £40.00

    Note: Tickets are limited and sold strictly on a first come first served basis.

    More information: Visit the Forbidden Corner website


    You can stay at Tupgill Park itself, in one of the Tupgill Park Cottages which are right next to the Forbidden Corner. Alternatively, there is plenty of accommodation in the nearby towns of Leyburn and Middleham.

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    1© Copyright Pete and licenced under this Creative Commons licence
    2© Copyright Paul Brooker
    3© Copyright Andy Waddington
    4© Copyright Bev Dickinson
    Photos 2,3 & 4 licenced under this Creative Commons Licence