It’s an ultimate ambition in life (no joke) to live in a secret house. Not necessarily a big house, or a modern house or a flashy house – but one that’s a little bit hidden from the rest of the world. Perhaps down a rickety old pebble driveway, or tucked behind a row of tall tall trees. Keep on dreaming girl…I know.
So, whenever I drive past one of these places or stumble upon one on a walk – I can’t help myself from ‘house-perving’. By this I mean peering over the walls, peaking in the windows and looking through the creaky garden gates…there’s something about a ‘private property no entry’ sign which makes me want to do just the opposite. Hopefully that doesnt make me a stalker in the making?
To keep me from trespassing on private property, I like to find secret public places to go and visit too. Here are my top three to go and hunt out for yourself.
- The Lyde Garden (Bucks)
This place has an etherial magic to it, and because it’s not very big – it actually manages to remain a fairly well-kept secret, despite the fact its been around for years and years. It’s called a ‘sunken aquatic garden’ which sounds a bit swampy but it’s actually a stunning little place. Tucked out of sight from any passer’s by with just a small sign indicating what’s inside. The naturally occurring springs in the garden come from a tributary of the River Thame and a small wooden walkway winds around it, displaying the gorgeous tropical plants and ferns. Pick a warm summer day, and you can’t beat this place, plus it’s totally free to go in.
(video credit: You Tube – Brian Worley)
2. The Skip Garden (Kings Cross)
Not your average picturesque English garden, but none the less a great place to check out if you’re after something alternative. If you work in London or venture in for day trips and long weekends, definitely pay a visit to The Skip Garden. Hidden in the middle of Kings Cross amongst a huge building site, the veggies and flowers grow in disused skips and building materials, tended to by passionate volunteers. An urban garden with a twist, this pop-up plantation moves as the building site evolves around it, and sells its home-grown produce in the on-site cafe kitchen.
3. Hidden Gardens of the Royal Mile (Edinburgh)
If you’ve never been to Edinburgh then you’re missing out, and if you have I’m sure you’ll agree that even with a whole weekend to spare, you’ll struggle to see everything this gorgeous place has to offer. That was certainly my experience. If you have been or are planning to, there are two things I’d recommend doing to ensure you see the secret side of Edinburgh.
The Hidden Garden’s tour is run by Green Yonder Tours and is by far their most popular amble. This historic walk takes you away from the hustle and bustle of the main tourist attractions and reveals the hidden nooks, crannies and green spaces which often go unseen. You’ll hear all about the grand gardens of the past, and visit the community gardens and projects of the present, all a stone’s throw from the Royal Mile itself.
I couldn’t talk about ‘hidden Edinburgh’ without talking about The Real Mary King’s Close too. First appearances of this local attraction look a bit ‘London Dungeons’ with dramatised costumes and ghost stories, but if you can get past that the actual streets themselves are fascinating. The Real Mary King’s Close is a series of streets and hidden rooms which once upon a time, (400 years ago) were open to the skies and full of local people living and working. Today they are perfectly preserved but buried, deep below street level, which means you have to rely on your tour guide to walk you through the dark maze as you listen to the stories of those who once lived there. A creepy place, but definitely worth a look.
Thanks for reading, and let me know if you’ve visited any of these places or have others to recommend.