Enjoying the new tea hut and play area at one of Bath’s best and most beautiful attractions

Right from the start, the welcome to Prior Park Landscape Gardens in Bath was warm and enthusiastic. The team at the ticket office were soon explaining the recent changes at the garden and helping my children out with a list of activities to enjoy and things to look out for. We couldn’t wait to get started.

If you haven’t been to Prior Park Landscape Gardens before, you’ve a real treat in store. From Widcombe, it’s a 20 minute climb up the steep hill (there is also a bus and very limited parking for disabled badge holders only) to the ticket office. A change around inside means that the new tea shed and play area are close by the entrance and it’s there that we headed first.

With the sun shining down, we were soon at home on the outdoor seating and waiting for our selection of paninis and drinks from the tea hut to arrive. Can there be a more idyllic setting for lunch or a snack? With the gorgeous trees and plants around surrounding us, and a beautiful waterfall to help wash your stresses away, this was already turning into a memorable family visit.

And it soon got better – the paninis were gorgeous, with my pesto, cheese, sun dried tomatoes and spinach selection proving flavoursome and tasty. Add in a pot of tea for dad and ginger beer and Pepsi for the children, and we were all soon happily feasting and chatting.

Noughts and crosses, woodland style

With the trays cleared away and promises of ice creams later in the day, we were soon off to explore the new play area, all made from natural materials and perfect for children aged from 3-10 years – and, as it turned out, their dad too! We were soon balancing on branches, taking turns on the tractor and digger, and charging around enjoying a game of tag. Since when did the children become so fast!

Prior Park Landscape Gardens, so the guide explained, was created in the 18th century by local entrepreneur Ralph Allen, with advice from ‘Capability’ Brown and the poet Alexander Pope. The landscape sweeps down into the valley below, with a lake and impressive Palladian bridge acting as a focal point at the bottom.

The path down made for a great excuse for a family stroll, although do note that it can be quite steep and uneven, making wheelchairs a real challenge.

Without the foggiest idea of what plants we were looking at, we were still enjoying the sights and smells of the gardens, including checking out the incredible growths of fungus high up in the trees and colourful berries in the bushes. Best of all though had to be the pair of herons sitting calmly up in the branches of one of the massive trees on the edge of the lake – what a treat!

There are plenty of places to stop, sit and enjoy the amazing views around the gardens, and we were only too happy to take our time as we enjoyed our tour. While work on the dam under the bridge meant that the smaller lake was dry for our visit, it did mean the children could enjoy an ingenious construction that allowed us to drop coins down a steep tube to hit different cymbals at the bottom – a very clever spot of fundraising.

The walk back up the steep slope towards the entrance was interrupted only by regular stops to turn around and enjoy the magnificent view back over the gardens and the edge of Bath beyond. This really is stunning place to visit and rightfully popular with local residents and tourists alike.

With a quick pitstop for ice cream, we were soon on our way back down to Bath, having hugely enjoyed our family visit to the gardens. The new location of the tea shed, close to the entrance, means that you can enjoy your lunch without having to invest in a long walk around the gardens, making it ideal for a meet up and chat in one of Bath’s most scenic settings.

www.nationaltrust.org.uk/prior-park-landscape-garden