Top 10 things to do at Lyme Park House and Gardens
Lyme Park and Gardens is an absolutely stunning National Trust treasure based in the beautiful hills of the Peak District. The estate covers 1,400 acres and features a 16th century grand mansion, Italian gardens, wild woodlands and a number of medieval and Victorian buildings dotted around its vast parkland. One thing is for sure – there are plenty of things to do!
Here are the top 10 things to do at Lyme Park House and Gardens.
1) Visit Lyme House
If you had one word and one word only to describe Lyme House it would be, STUNNING. It goes without saying that the untouched natural park it sits in alongside its wildlife is breathtaking by itself, but Lyme House really is the jewel in Lyme Park’s crown.
The estate was originally granted to Sir Thomas Danyers in 1346 before being passed to the Leghs family by marriage in 1388. Incredibly it remained in the Legh family until 1946 when it was given to the National Trust due to the escalating cost of the upkeep of the property.
Bad news for the Legh’s family – however great news for the public who can now enjoy the full estate – no title necessary!
There’s been a house onsite at Lyme Park since 1465, but the present Lyme House dates back to the latter part of the 16th century. It’s the largest house in Cheshire as well a protected Grade I listed building due to its exceptional national, architectural or historical importance.
Like many grand estates, Lyme House has had many adaptations over the years with each addition adding character and uniqueness to the house including Elizabethan, renaissance and baroque style features.
Highlights from inside the house include the original Elizabethan drawing room with medieval stain glass windows, the Stag Parlour and the Knight’s bedroom where Mary Queen of Scots once slept.
The bedroom features a secret passage way to The Cage further out on the estate and is said to be haunted after a skeleton was found in the passage way during renovations!
2) Have a walk around the Lyme House Italian gardens and woodlands
Lyme House is not just at the centre of a beautiful vast parkland. It’s home to an array of stunning gardens next to a woodland that used to be part of Macclesfield Forest.
Between 1813–18, the formal gardens were replaced to create more of a naturalistic look in a mix of Victorian styles. These included: an orangery, elaborate flower bed displays and an Italian garden that looks like it came straight from a Venetian palace!
The Orangery is also a nice, quiet place to chat whilst overlooking the gardens and Lyme Lake. It’s essentially a fancy greenhouse featuring a lovely moss covered stone fountain, surrounded by beautiful plant life from across the world.
Whilst Lyme Lake is famous in its own right for a certain Colin Firth (playing a brooding Mr Darcy) once emerging from the water soaking wet in a rather sexy fashion in Pride and Prejudice.
3) Have a picnic by Lyme Lake
There are so many lovely green spots at Lyme Park that it’s the perfect place to take a picnic break and relax. Lyme Lake in particular is a great place to sit and have lunch whilst looking out across the woodland and watching the pond life.
If its a romantic picnic you’re having – don’t be tempted to do a Darcy. The water is freezing!
4) Visit the Cage
If you’re feeling energetic and up for a hill hike, head up to Lyme Park’s mysterious “cage”. It was built by the warrior priest (what a title – right?), Sir Piers V in 1524 as a hunting tower or watchtower. However its best known for allegedly keeping prisoners who were poaching on the estate and awaiting trial.
The Cage was eventually rebuilt in the 1730s with its fortress-like appearance made more hospitable. This was presumably to make it useable as a banqueting room, but we’ll never know for sure!
It later became a home for estate workers which must have been well chilly on top of that windswept hill! When me and my friend Becky visited, we were almost blown off the hill and unable to walk around it!
5) Visit the Timber Yard shop
I always get sucked in at the National Trust shops. They have the cutest gifts and souvenirs and Lyme Park is no exception!
They have a fantastic range of gifts, prints and bits and bobs for your garden. As well as locally sourced food and treats supplied by small businesses. They even have Mr Darcy memorabilia for the diehard Pride and Prejudice fans among you!
The best part though is, whatever money you spend goes straight back into the upkeep of Lyme Park itself.
And let’s face it – gifting yourself whilst giving directly to charity is the a best feeling, right?
6) Grab some lunch or afternoon tea and cake at the Lyme Park Cafe
If you don’t fancy packing a picnic (or it’s just too damn cold to sit out!) there are a few places you can get grub at Lyme Park. There are two cafes with selection of hot food, sandwiches and snacks. One is in the old servants quarters and the other is based at the old timber yard.
But I highly recommend visiting the permanent outdoor food hut by the carpark (stay with me! 😂). It has its very own wood fire pizza oven and all the pizzas are made fresh to order.
For the Eagle-eyed vegans among you, yes that’s a vegan margherita pizza you spy! That’s right, a vegan food option at a National Trust property! National Trust aren’t known for providing a lot of options for special dietary requirements but this pizza was a nice surprise and was pretty good!
If you’re wondering which cafe is best to choose, I would say go for the Timber Yard (weather permitting). When the weather is warmer it’s a lovely place to sit out and have lunch or tea and cake.
Anyone else think it’s weird that one estate’s old timber yard is what a million pound house would be today?!
7) Visit Paddock Cottage
Paddock Cottage is an adorable little house that sits high on the South side of Lyme Park. It’s built from stone taken right from the estate and was specifically designed as a “show piece”.
Paddock Cottage was essentially to be a ‘fancy’ place to take guests for dinner after a hunt, with its decorative interior, ornate overmantle and fantastic views of the surrounding area.
With a handy direct view of the Cage, Paddock Cottage was later turned into housing for estate workers (lucky them!).
8) Follow the walking trails to find the Lyme Park deer
Lyme Park is home to all sorts of wildlife. But its the park’s red deer that are the stars of the estate!
There have been deer at Lyme Park for over 600 years and they’ve played a pivotal role in the history of the estate.
During the ‘rutting’ season *hehe* in October you’ll see the stags showcasing their prowess. Whilst in June you’ll find lots of adorable fawns!
The deer graze across most of the park but they can be a little shy so don’t get too close!
9) Visit The Lantern
This lovely little sandstone tower is another Lyme Park landmark. It was built in 1580 for visitors to enjoy the scenery, which at the time was open moorland.
It’s believed to have originally sat on the roof of Lyme House where Minerva’s statue now stands; however was placed on the woodland hill in the 1720s.
According to the National Trust, if Lord Newton could see the Lantern clearly from the dining room at Lyme House, it was good enough weather for hunting.
10) Go hiking with your pup
With 1,400 acres of hilly woodland to explore, Lyme Park is a great place to go hiking! You’ll definitely get a proper workout heading up all those hill tops. My dog Lilly loved running up the hills and dashing down the nosying down the country paths. It’s also a great way to knacker them out!
Have would be your go-to things to do at Lyme Park House and Gardens? Have you got any favourite National Trust properties you love to visit? Let me know in the comments below! 😊