Thorp Perrow Arboretum in the Yorkshire Dales

I’ve always enjoyed woodland walks and when it was suggested that we visit an arboretum I was eager to explore Thorp Perrow Arboretum, which boasts one of the largest collections of trees and shrubs in the north of England.  These include the national collection of Ash, Lime, Laburnum, Walnut and Cotinus.  The Arboretum is located two miles from Bedale in North Yorkshire, 35 miles (55 km) north of Leeds.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum,
Boardwalk through the bog garden, Thorp Perrow

Finding a space in the large car park, we picked up a map with our tickets before setting off to explore the Arboretum.  The history of Thorp Perrow can be traced back to the Domesday Book where it was listed as ‘Torp’ Manor House without any trees at that time.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum
Tree lined avenues, Thorp Perrow

Four major planting periods have taken place over the years with parkland trees dating from the 16th and 17th centuries.  In the mid-1850’s seeds were imported from America which now make up the Milbank Pinetum.  The design and planting of the Arboretum began in 1931 with a final phase of 1,500 new trees and shrubs being planted in the 1980’s when it was first opened to the public.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum
Stream side view, Thorp Perrow

There are nature trails through the grounds with a special children’s trail and a tree trail taking in some of the rarest and largest trees.  Rather than follow one of these routes, we studied our map and set off along one of the shady paths leading from the entrance from where we followed a boardwalk trail to the Bog Garden.  Here we found a carpet of wildflowers in hues of pink and blue which looked absolutely beautiful.  Each section of the Arboretum is inter-connected via paths, grass walks, glades and avenues providing scenic walks of differing lengths.  We continued through the Spring Wood towards the lake from where we could see the Ropner family’s private residence.  This elegant house has wide, sweeping lawns running down to the lake.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum
Enjoying the view across the lake from Jane’s Island, Thorp Perrow

There was a small wooden bridge over to Kate’s island where we relaxed on a bench admiring the stunning views in this tranquil setting.  It was an overcast day with only occasional glimpses of the sun peeping through the clouds but on a clear, sunny day it would make a perfect spot to rest awhile.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum
The old walled garden, Thorp Perrow

Our morning stroll continued through the Millbank Pinetum, through the Holly Glade and then along Birch Avenue.  We noticed that all the trees are numbered, rather than named and are listed in a catalogue which can be obtained from the ticket office.  Fifty one of the trees at Thorp Perrow are Champion Trees which are recorded and designated by the Tree Register of the British Isles as being the largest and most impressive of their species.

Birds of Prey Centre, Thorp Perrow Arboretum
Entrance to the Birds of Prey Centre, Thorp Perrow

Located in the old walled garden at the far end of the Arboretum and popular with families, we came across the Bird of Prey and Mammal Centre.  Flying displays take place twice daily with an opportunity to meet the owls at 11.30 a.m. each morning.  To one side there is also a paddock with farm animals and goats.

Jubilee Oak, Thorp Perrow Arboretum
Jubilee Oak, Thorp Perrow

We then continued along Birch Avenue leading to the Jubilee Oak which is located at a focal point linking several paths.  This majestic oak tree was planted in 1935 to mark the silver jubilee of King George V and has a bench encircling its trunk making it a good spot to sit and enjoy a rest.

Thorp Perrow Arboretum
Monument on Main Avenue, Thorp Perrow

We returned to our starting point along the Main Avenue which is dominated by a stone pillared monument.  Unlike a cultivated garden, the Arboretum’s grass paths are mown on a regular basis but other areas are only mown once a year to provide an ideal habitat for wildflowers, rhododendrons, hydrangeas, insects and fungi.  Although the Arboretum is beautiful to visit at any time of year, it will undoubtedly be at its best in autumn as the leaves turn to shades of gold and scarlet.

Tearoom, Thorp Perrow Arboretum
Tearoom, Thorp Perrow

After our pleasant walk we were ready for some lunch in the attractive tea rom which has seating indoors and on its terrace.  There was a varied selection of dishes to choose from and our poached salmon salad and ploughman’s lunch were both delicious.  Afterwards, I couldn’t resist tucking into a slice of my favourite coffee and walnut cake with a pot of tea.

Tearoom, Thorp Perrow Arboretum
Our lunch, Thorp Perrow Tea Room

Before leaving Thorp Perrow we had a look in the plant centre for some geraniums to brighten up the tubs on our patio.  It was then back in the car for the short drive into Bedale, two miles to the north.

Plant centre, Thorp Perrow Arboretum
Plant centre, Thorp Perrow

We really enjoyed our short visit to this small market town which is full of character, its history dating back to the Domesday Book in 1086.  In the 13th century the town gained its market charter and a market still takes place along its wide high street every Tuesday.  Bedale has some lovely small shops with old fashioned greengrocers, butchers and artisan bakers alongside gift shops and cafes.

Market Cross, Bedale
Market Cross, Bedale

Before returning home, there was one more place we wanted to visit and that was Northallerton, nine miles from Bedale.  Northallerton is the county town of North Yorkshire and has good rail connections being on the East Coast main line between London and Edinburgh.

High Street, Northallerton
High Street, Northallerton

Wednesdays and Saturdays are market days in Northallerton and thankfully the stall holders were still trading at 3.30 p.m. as we explored the high street.  Northallerton is much larger than its neighbour Bedale and is a prosperous town with high class shops and cafes stretching along both sides of the market place.

Northallerton Town Hall
Northallerton Town Hall

We enjoyed looking around Barkers, an absolute gem of a department store.  It’s a local institution, having been established in the town since 1882.  Nearby, we spotted a branch of Betty’s Cafe and Tea Rooms who also have branches in York, Harrogate and Ilkley.  It was a joy looking around the shops, many of them small, independent retailers.  We browsed the market stalls buying some fresh vegetables and returned to the car to head back home after a lovely day out in this part of North Yorkshire.

I would like to thank Thorp Perrow for kindly inviting me to visit the Arboretum and as always all opinions are my own.

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93 thoughts on “Thorp Perrow Arboretum in the Yorkshire Dales

  1. Pingback: Day 13. Haeundae Beach, Busan, South Korea – Love Travelling

  2. There is nothing that points my heart toward God in nature more than a well formed tree. And the variety, beauty, tenacity, age, and function of trees sing of the complexity and depth of our God’s wisdom and knowledge. You have made me want to visit Thorp Perrow should I ever be so privileged as to visit across the Pond.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. jasonlikestotravel

    Sounds like a really enjoyable trip. I have a friend who lives in Northallerton so I’ve very briefly visited but I might have to make a return having read this haha. I’ll add Thorp Perrow to my list for when I do 🙂

    Liked by 1 person

  4. mariexceline

    Looks lovely there. Your photos are great. Is the arboretum only accessible by car?
    Our nearest one in the south of England was at a place called Bedgebury.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thank you Ian for your much appreciated thoughts on my post. In answer to your question about ‘market charter’ I hope the following helps. The market charter formalised the market making it hard for a rival market to set up close by. The charter granted privileges to the town and traders such as exemptions from tolls and taxes which it’s rival markets did not enjoy resulting in lower prices. This in turn attracted more people to the town.

      Liked by 1 person

  5. Once again I have enjoyed traveling with you, albeit through the pages of your blog post.
    I marvel at the detail of information you give your reader. Do you walk around with a pad and pen? I know I would forget the details If it were me.

    Looking forward to journeying with next time.


  6. What a beautiful arboretum! I must visit it. American naturalist John Bartram shipped tree seeds to Britain in the 18th century for reforestation. I wonder if any of his trees, or their descendants, are in this park?

    Liked by 1 person

  7. Looks great. So does the food! I’ve been all over the world but never here and it’s only 25 miles from Harrogate where I live. Going to go real soon.
    As you like Yorkshire can I recommend The Yorkshire Sculpture Park near Wakefield. I was there recently. Uplifting.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks Kenneth for your interesting thoughts. I hope you you get to visit Thorp Perrow soon as I’m certain you will enjoy it. I haven’t been to the Yorkshire Sculpture Park yet but did notice the motorway sign as I passed recently. Hopefully, I’ll have an opportunity to visit soon.


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