Our RHS Membership – a great day out near Manchester

Our RHS Membership – a great day out near Manchester

I recently signed up for a membership with the RHS, which has already been wonderful, so I thought I would share my thoughts on it!

We don’t have a real garden – I’ve spent considerable time, effort, and money on turning our tiny cottage garden into a usable space, and although it’s quite a nice place to sit with a coffee, at the end of the day it’s still right on a main road, and absolutely tiny. As parents of toddlers will know, having a good outdoor space for little people to explore and burn off energy can be a total game changer, so my micro-garden just wasn’t cutting it. Luckily there is a big park just a few minutes away from my house, which is a saving grace, but I’ve spent so much time in the park over lockdown that I was keen for a change of scenery. 

At the end of October I organised a family day out at RHS Harlow Carr, near Harrogate. It was a bit of a trek to get there (about an hour and a half in the car), but totally worth the journey. It was the Philip Haas sculptures dotted around the grounds that had initially drawn me to the garden, but as soon as we arrived I could see that there was so much to see and explore for me and the twins alike. 

A quick google search showed that there was another RHS garden closer to home – the RHS Bridgewater. Although not on our doorstep, this garden is in Salford which is somewhere we pass regularly on our way to see friends and family in Manchester. Sold on the idea that we could drop in for an hour or two when we were going in or out of Manchester, I decided to sign up for a joint membership which admits my husband and me into any RHS garden for a year, with up to four children and an adult guest each time. 

It’s already one of the best decisions I’ve made, and reminds me of having an English Heritage membership as a teenager. I loved having the freedom to explore new places and discover new things without having to worry about an upfront cost. This time around, I have the joy of exploring with my children, and they have loved it so far. 

Both twins have always enjoyed being outdoors, and now they have acres of safe land to roam and explore. The RHS Bridgewater has a huge kitchen garden, learning garden, woodland walks, and a meadow – all amazing through the eyes of a toddler. The highlight though, is the playground. Set in the woodland area, there are countless adventure playground type activities and obstacles to play on, as well as a while fairy village, and mud kitchens. I can see us visiting at least fortnightly for the playground alone!

I think we have probably already ad our money’s worth from our membership, and would recommend it to parents who live close enough to make use of it, especially if you and your little ones love spending time outdoors. 

I’d love to hear about any other outdoor base days out, so please let me know in the comments if you have any to recommend!

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