Especially when you have a two-and-a-half stone two-year-old in tow who insists on been carried pretty much from the word go. Well, you’d probably feel the same way if you’d been spooked by the giant size uvulva hanging from the belching mouth of some rather odd castle-turret-cum-giant-brick-built dragon that one has to walk through the insides of and exit through the back end of to get in to The Forbidden Corner. It’s a bit like stepping into Narnia, and once you’ve passed through the turnstile and made your way through a big pink oesophagus there is no going back. For a good few hours anyway.
The Forbidden Corner has been awarded a couple of awards over the years. It bagged ‘The Best Folly of the 20th Century’ by the Folly Fellowship (all very Lord of the Rings I know), and has also been voted the Best Children’s Attraction in Yorkshire. It’s definitely one for the Yorkshire Bucket List, if only for its peculiarity, sinister character, and damn-right strangeness.
I can only compare it to the cult hit 1980s film, Labyrinth. In fact, if it wasn’t for the fact that he has recently died, I wouldn’t have been surprised if David Bowie himself had jumped out from behind one of the many oversize garden ornaments or peeing cherub fountains, or been seen darting through the underground chambers, tunnels and passageways, many of which lead to nowhere.
The Forbidden Corner is a pre-bookable attraction only. And it became very apparent why when I was trying to squeeze myself and my screaming child (who was attached to my hip and refusing to walk even for a second, no matter how much chocolate I promised her) through a pitch black, four-foot wide tunnel with 25 boy scouts heading towards me in the opposite direction. But that all adds to the craziness of this place.
There are lots of steep stone steps leading up and down very narrow staircases and frustration does kick in when you find yourself back where you started or trying to escape through a door that leads to nowhere. But that’s only because the circulation in my left arm had been cut off thanks to Ferne. Teddy, my five-year-old on the other hand was enjoying every second of being tricked and teased at every turn. I must admit I was a little resentful of my two year old who was preventing me from having what could have been a thoroughly fun time. This place is not just for the little people. There were lots and lots of giddy adults jumping head first into the fantasy fun too.
Grab a map on the way in – you’ll need this to ensure that you don’t miss any of the bits and pieces that form the object of this real life Jumanji-esque attraction (just without the jungle wildlife – although in keeping with the surroundings, there is a sheep viewing platform). In fact, after a good couple of hours in here you do start to question if you will ever get out.
The map isn’t actually a map, just an A3 piece of paper featuring all sorts of interesting illustrations. The object of the game being to locate everything without knowing where they might actually be.
A lot of the folly is out in the open so I would choose a clear day to visit. A misty autumn day probably adds to the mystery and eeriness, but there are some fabulous picnic spots here and there so pack a picnic and head there in the sunshine.
I don’t really want to give too much more away. After all, half the fun is not knowing what’s in store. All I will say is, I wished I’d have purchased a poncho at reception.
Where is The Forbidden Corner?