A beautiful place to unwind.
Every time we have travelled over to National Trust Oxburgh Hall in West Norfolk we have passed a brown tourist information sign saying ‘Gooderstone Water Gardens’, and each time we have said: “we must go there one day”. Well, that day, was this week!
Before we go in, a bit of history…
Gooderstone Water Gardens were designed (apparently on the back of a bit of wallpaper) and built by Billy Knights, a 70 year old retired farmer, in 1970. The site was originally a damp meadow for cattle, that got a bit too wet for grazing. Mr Knight’s son joked that it should be a water garden; and that’s exactly what Billy created! He worked on his gardens until he died at the age of 93.
Billy and his wife Florence loved their gardens, and sharing their beauty with others. However, the gardens closed and were unmaintained for 5 years until Billy and Florence’s daughter, Coral Hoyos began to restore them in April 2002, as a lasting tribute to her parents’ gardening work and dedication.
Gooderstone Water Gardens opened once again in June 2003.
We reached Gooderstone via Swaffham and the fabulously named Cockley Cley. There was plenty of parking and we placed our £5 (Adults £5, kids are FREE) in the Honesty Box. In we went…
We were greeted with a ‘Welcome Back’ sign (a result of recent lockdowns), and there is a well signposted one-way system to aid social distancing.
We followed the white arrows to bridges number 11 & 12 (there are 13 bridges in total, and each bridge is numbered to help you navigate the gardens).
Bridge 11 takes you to The Roundhouse and Bridge 12 to the Scented Arbour.
We head into the Scented Arbour with the very beautiful East Pond on our left.
The sounds of wildlife and the reflections on the surface of the water were amazing. In due course, we turned up towards the main part of the East Pond towards a Summer House.
We loved the little duck island and the silver swallow sculpture.
And we wholeheartedly agree with the quote from Mother Teresa in the Summer House:
“Be happy in that moment. That is enough.
Each moment is all we need, nothing more.”
The plant / tree information signs dotted about the Water Gardens were interesting and useful – we were very knowledgeable by the end of our visit!
At this point of our walk, and on seeing the little boat in the pond, one of our sons remarked that it was like being in ‘Wind In The Willows’. We totally agree.
Our boys loved watching the mini waterfall on the Wissey tributary (part of the River Gadder) as we headed over Bridge 8 to the Boardwalk.
The River Gadder rises from springs near Cockley Cley and it supplies the moat at nearby Oxburgh Hall. A sign by the river at Gooderstone Water Gardens informed us that it is one of only 210 chalk streams in the WORLD (160 of which are in England). As a result of the chalk, the stream is crystal clear, a feature which we noticed and mentioned to each other as we crossed the bridge.
The Kingfisher Hide was closed (due to social distancing restrictions, we think) so we headed out onto the Nature Trail around the Fen. On the day we visited, it was a bit muddy, but we had faith in our footwear.
We headed back into the main gardens over Bridge number 6, a little bit muddier (and one son with a wet foot) and were greeted by an awesome display of Spring blossom.
We walked along towards Bridge 13 – lucky for us, as we enjoyed a great view of the Monet Pond at Bridge 1. Beautiful.
The Bamboo Grove created a lovely shade on this sunny March day and we sat down (sits) for a moment.
We concluded our delightful exploration of Gooderstone Water Gardens by heading over Bridge 10 to view the Otter Pond, ascending the small mound to The Roundhouse for another little rest and then over Bridge 11 towards the exit.
Gooderstone is self-described as ‘The enchanting Gooderstone Water Gardens, come relax and unwind in a beautiful place.’
We cannot disagree. The gardens are definitely enchanting. We spent a good few hours just strolling around and loved being out on a nature adventure. You could see that the gardens would amaze us if we visited at anytime of year.
Did we relax and unwind? For sure! The sound of birds, running water and being at one with nature… who couldn’t?
The gardens are so well maintained. We spotted four gardeners working hard to make this a very special place indeed to visit. Coral… we believe Billy & Florence would be very pleased.
The Gardens are OPEN.
10:30 am – 5:00 pm
Tearoom closed when we visited.
Admission was via an Honesty Box.
Adults & Seniors: £5.00 (2021 Winter rate), Children 0-16 Free.
From 1st April 2021: Adults £7.00, Seniors £6.50.
Gooderstone residents: £3.50
Season Tickets are available: £24 per person, valid 1 year.
Check out the Gooderstone Water Gardens website.
All details correct to our knowledge at time of visit.