Whether you’re wanting a place to visit for a whole day or just half a day at a weekend or in the school holidays, Oakwell Hall is perfect for either. Situated in Birstall, West Yorkshire, Oakwell Hall, a Grade 1 listed building sits in the beautiful period gardens surrounded by 110 acres of country park. The hall is open to visitors, set out as a family home in the 1690’s.
Not only are there many walks and pathways, there is a play area for the children, right by one of the car parks, with picnic benches for parents to soak up the sun on those occasional sunny days (although we do seem to be having a lot of them as I write this), as the children play. Nearby to the hall is a cafe and gift shop, perfect for cooling down after walking around the country park.
You’re spoilt for choice with there being 2 car parks both of which are free to park (not bad hey?!), one very close to the hall and cafe, the other is next to the play area with a clearly defined path, leading to the hall. Just check the opening times first, you don’t want your car getting locked in!
On those hot sunny days, there is an ice cream van in both car parks, which is always welcomed by the children after they’ve exhausted themselves from playing. Another fabulous family opportunity is making use of the Nature Trail. There are many information boards around the country park with photographs of the different types of wildlife which may be spotted and the many varieties of trees, plants and flowers; this is always a great way to keep the children entertained and of course, to learn more about nature and wildlife as they walk and explore.
With many paths and routes to choose from, the country park is your oyster! Walks can easily be created as you’re there or take a peek at the maps dotted around the country park and follow the set walk of your choice. We decided to follow the ‘Nature Trail’, which also happens to be the ‘Park Run’ route. This walk is perfect for little legs, with plenty of opportunities to rest them with a sit on one of the many benches. There are some steps along the way so it may not be so easy for those of you with pushchairs (although we did see some brave families on this route with them along that particular route) but there are many other pathways you could follow instead.
The Nature Trail walk is perfect even on those hot sunny days, with a good section of it being in the dappled shade of the trees through woodland. When out of the shaded areas, the views are fabulous to see with plenty of opportunities for some photograph taking of the scenery a yonder. One of my favourite spots is a stunning viewpoint which is ideal for taking a photograph of the view but also, for those nowadays very popular ‘selfies’, providing a beautiful back drop. From this viewpoint, the famous Emley Moor mast can be seen in the distance, now, along with the temporary mast as some much needed maintenance is being carried out on the main mast. Those of you with good zoom lenses on your cameras (I forgot to take mine) will be able to get some good images from this spot with the masts in the distance.
Another great spot for a good view and photo opportunity is at the top of the country park, where there is a huge sculpture of some ferns, called the ‘Fiddlehead and Fernblades’ sculpture. This sculpture stands at over six metres tall, so makes everyone (not just me) look very small. It reflects the wildlife, geology and history of the site where Oakwell Hall and country park now stand. The impressive sculpture has only been there since 2007 when it replaced a sculpture made of oak which had been there since the 1980’s and was beginning to look a little tired.
The country park is an old colliery site, which employed over 360 workers in the 1960’s but closed in 1973. To celebrate the mine and those who worked there, a sculpture was built for this reason and can be seen next to the childrens play area, I’m not going to describe this one, I’ll leave it for you to discover for yourselves, all I will say is, “Look out for some miners”.
Oakwell Hall is a place which is suitable for all year round visiting, seeing the beautiful scenery in all four seasons is always a sight which I enjoy, it’s amazing how different one place can look throughout the year. Normally the lush green grass adds so much colour to the views but with this incredibly hot weather we’re currently experiencing, the grass is more like straw and looks rather brown. Having said that, it is still a place of manmade beauty, which I for one, hope will remain for a long time for future generations to enjoy and explore.