Broomhill Sculpture Gardens is a great place for a bit of peace and quiet in beautiful and thought provoking surroundings, and a leisurely lunch. The gardens are at Muddiford, a few minutes drive North of Barnstaple. EX31 4EX (For non drivers, take the 5B bus to Barnstaple then the 301 to Muddiford).
Some of the sculptures are permanent, others change from year to year. Pick a sunny day, revel in the gardens, then enjoy ‘slow food’ in the lovely Terra Madre restaurant (check openings – not open every day 01271 850262). We had tapas, read the paper, and took about an hour to wander around the gardens. Could have taken a book and spent longer, but sadly real life called us back.
Entrance to the garden cost something like £5 for adults or £11.50 for a family ticket (2018).
If you’re just looking for something different and some time to properly relax this could be a day out for you. Or you could combine it with a trip to the beach at Westward Ho, a stroll along the Tarka Trail from Barnstaple, or maybe shopping in Barnstaple’s famous pannier market. Then again, you could OD on gardens and visit RHS Rosemoor at Torrington, or perhaps (and probably another day) try the Stone Lane Sculpture Gardens near Castle Drogo.
Access – Much of the gardens are on a steeply sloping site with paths and steps that people with mobility difficulties may find challenging. Part of the exhibition is in a more level ‘meadow’ with mown paths that should be ok for scooters / buggies in dry weather, however even here there’s a wonky bridge to negotiate, and level access to the meadow is through a gate that would need to be unlocked – so ring ahead. There is some disabled parking up by the hotel, for those who can’t manage the walk up the hill. Plenty of ponds, so families with young children should take care. When we went, it was quiet – a lovely place to relax away from crowds and hassle.