West Wycombe Park
Ever seen the movie “The Labyrinth” from the 1980’s? A 16 year old girl, Sarah played by Jennifer Connelly is baby sitting her baby brother one stormy evening. He won’t stop crying and in despair Sarah calls for the Goblin King, aka David Bowie, to take her baby brother away.
She soon discovers that you should be careful what you wish for! In a flash baby Toby goes silent and Sarah is horrified to find that he has been taken by the Goblin King. In a terrible twist she must now solve the Labyrinth in a race against the clock to save her baby brother.
“WHAT ON EARTH HAS THIS GOT TO DO WITH WEST WYCOMBE??” I hear you cry.
Watch this clip……….did you see that bridge she runs across? That is the grounds of West Wycombe! Did we find that exact bridge though?
You will have to wait and see…….
Following the sat nav religiously isn’t always a good idea. “In 100 yards on your right, you have reached your destination.” said the sat nav lady.
We missed that turn, (hard to tell as we don’t know what 100 yards is, really must change the settings) and drove an extra mile or so, turned around “where possible” and went back.
Then it dawned on me…. what if this wasn’t a car park for West Wycombe park. I looked in the distance up ahead and I could see tents, flags, stalls, toilets and row upon row of cars.
“This is a car boot sale isn’t it!”
After completing a 15 point turn in the narrow lanes leading to the car boot, we were out of the field and back on the right track, actually the real car park was literally across the road and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it was completely FREE!
Although we had come solely to visit the Park, it didn’t open until 14.00hrs. So, as a back up plan I had my eye on the Hellfire Caves. I remember visiting these caves years ago at a friends birthday party and having a brilliant time! Would my kids enjoy them?
Just across the road from the car park is a steep hill leading up to a rather impressive looking domed structure.
I assumed that this was the entrance to the caves. After a steep trek, we discovered that the domed structure really was something completely different. It was in fact a mausoleum for the Dashwoods.
Still definitely worth the walk to the top, just for the breath taking views. A sign pointed back down the hill but on the other side from where the car park was located, which read “The Caves”.
At the Hellfire cave entrance is a café, toilets and plenty of indoor and outdoor seating. Once you have purchased your tickets (£20 per family) you are given special tokens to get in. Kids love this, it feels like you have a secret key to get into somewhere you shouldn’t be going!
I won’t divulge to much as it may ruin your experience should you visit, however a narrow, dark opening leads into a maze of corridors and rooms. Each room tells a story of LOVE, GHOSTS, The HELLFIRE CLUB and how the caves came to be (from mining chalk).
You can in fact hire this place as a venue for parties and I have seen that spooky films are shown here! Bit spooky but each to their own! Most Haunted featured the Hellfire Caves on one of their programmes. Great place to visit at Halloween, perhaps!
After perhaps 45 minutes or so, we headed back to the entrance which also becomes an exit and headed back to the car to retrieve our picnic stuff. We found ourselves back at the car boot simply to while away an hour or so as the park still wasn’t open.
“I hate car boots!”
After a quick walk through town to take in the sights we headed to the West Wycombe parks entrance.
It was open!
The staff explained where everything was, offered out leaflets and were on hand to give any assistance required. It costs £22.50 for a family to get in to see the whole property, (House & Gardens) or £4.50 per Adult and £2.25 per Child to see the Grounds Only.
Did we find the actual bridge that Sarah ran across in the movie? Well see what you think.
Original movie photo
Our photo (From the wrong angle, I think)
There are lots of bridges to cross which open up exciting new areas to explore. Kids love running around finding the secrets this park has to offer. I must admit, you feel a sense of magic here. Which is probably why this specific location was picked.
Sorry but I just felt the need to add that video in! R.I.P David Bowie!
Dotted around the grounds are small Temples which you can go in. See if you can spot them all! Lakes, water features and wooded areas all await your visit.
Eliza loved running into each “Temple” to see what lay inside. Mostly seating areas but there are some unique surprises!
A Stunning place to visit
I find that kids, generally find days out like these more rewarding than the big named theme parks. There is nothing better than letting children use their imaginations. The caves enhanced the visit and with the picnic, we had a proper UK FUN FAMILY DAY OUT!
What the kids thought..
Eliza (Aged 4) – The baby Sheep and the gates were best, can we go through the gates again?
George (Aged 12) – Gotta be the caves, not scary though!!