“ Family run tourist attraction located in North Devon „
Whilst looking through the massive pile of leaflets in our beautiful holiday cottage near Launceston, it was the Gnome Reserve which jumped out at us. My friends and I simply had to visit. The promise of gnome hats and fishing rods - well, we just couldn't afford not to go!
---Where is it?---
We visited the Gnome Reserve en route to Bude. It is situated in West Putford, near Devon. Details of how to get there can be found on their website, so no need for me to reiterate them - http://www.gnomereserve.co.uk/contact.htm But you will need a car to get there (and best with Sat Nav), possibly the only downside.
We were somewhat surprised to find other cars in the carpark. We weren't expecting such a popular attraction. We left C in the car - gnomes just aren't his thing apparently (he really missed out we all felt), and A, P, H and myself headed into our new world...
Enter the Gnome Reserve house (and this is exactly what it is - someone's house) and on the walls in the hallway are various newspaper clippings. On entering the left hand room we were welcomed by the owner, a nice lady who basically seems to do EVERYTHING! The room if full of souvenir pixies (more about these later).We parted with our £2.95 (I have since found on the website that we could have had one free entrance - ah well, £2.95 each was an absolute bargain) - cash or cheque only. "Recycled Teenagers" cost £2.75, 3-16s cost £2.50, and under 3s free - looks like the prices haven't changed for a while!
We were instructed to go into the other room to choose our hats and to then walk round the gnome reservation before coming back to return our hats and await further instruction.
The boxes of hats (small, medium & large) were so exciting, it was like being a child again. I went straight for a furry pink one! One family with a small child all chose matching yellow and black hats, it was very cute.
So, all kitted out with our hats on our heads we were ready to go. H and myself did wonder where the fishing rods were, but not to fear...
The sign boasts that this is "The World's First Gnome Reserve" (opened in 1979), and that it has featured on the TV over 60 times. After visiting the gnomes you can read a list of these TV programmes if you so desire, and also its appearances in books and publications - I wonder if they'll be adding Ciao/dooyoo to their list following this review! My God, I'll be immortalised in gnome legend.
As we walked into the woods, we were filled with a sense of eager anticipation of what joys awaited us. Then we found ourselves surrounded by gnomes - gnomes at a funfair, snow white and the seven dwarfs gnomes, the 2010 gnome reserve fishing tournament, gardening gnomes, gnomes in an orchestra, gnomes with pets, gnomes having dinner, gnomes with toadstools, gnomes at a bus stop, gnomes going into space, racing gnomes, a gnome airport, a gnome chessboard, gnomes sunbathing.....are you getting the idea yet? There's gnomes, and there's lots of them!
At the point that H and myself discovered the "Ottery" with its fishing rods, we literally jumped (actually, quite literally!) for joy. We ran over to get our rods and 'fish' for numbers (blocks with hooks on them to catch with your rods, with numbers written on the bottom). Think it was number 36 I got, however I wasn't really sure what to do with it, despite having read on the leaflet "Go fishing in the Ottery, you could win the Lottery", and there being notepaper and pencils by the side. Obviously one is supposed to fish 6 times, and get 6 numbers to then use in the lottery! Duh!
Another highlight of the Gnome Reserve was the Circle of Imagination where there's a wooden seat with a circle surrounding it, and when sitting on the seat you can imagine that you are whatever you want to be - I first opted for being a waterfall (one of the suggestions by the circle of imagination), and then of course to be a moose!
Having seen and photographed numerous gnomes we headed back to the house to sadly return our hats. However, we were then given clipboards with a quiz on to take round the wild flower garden - H and myself together, and married couple A & P together - not that we're competitive of course!
---The Wild Flower Garden---
The wild flower garden boasts approximately 250 labelled species of wild flowers herbs, grasses and ferns. It also has in it a number of fairies, but I can't tell you how many as that was one of the quiz questions, so that would be cheating!We had a pleasant stroll around the garden, keeping our eyes open for plants with boys and girl's names, plants with yellow flowers, and for the other answers to the quiz questions. A lovely little garden, with lots of butterflies...but it would've been better if we could have continued to wear our gnome hats.
On returning our completed quizzes to the owner (to be entered into a monthly prize draw), we had a browse for souvenirs. Souvenirs there to suit every budget, I bought a cute little handmade pixie for £2.45 (and a couple of postcards), but they ranged upwards to pixie scenes made to order for up to £250 (apparently you can also watch them being made) - obviously requiring a lot of work! Also on offer are prints of pictures created by the owner, pretty pictures with a predominant butterfly and fairy theme.
We had contemplated having a cream tea at the Gnome Reserve, but it didn't seem fair having left C in the car! They sell a variety of snacks and drinks which you can enjoy in the picnic area.
It says on the website that the average visit is 2 hours, and this sounds about right - we were there for an hour and a half, but would have spent longer if staying for a drink/snack.The Gnome Reserve is open from 21st March - 31st October 10am - 6pm daily. You might therefore be a bit pushed for time to get there for the 2010 season. But not to fear, the reserve has been there since 1979, I don't think it's going away anytime soon!
I would highly recommend a visit to the Gnome Reserve, except perhaps if you have teenaged children - I imagine that they might be at 'that' age where such things don't amuse. Otherwise I'd say it's suitable for most people (although it is said that wheelchair access to the gnome reserve is possible, but difficult, but ok in the wild flower section) and dogs are allowed on leads. That said, we did appear to be the only adults there without either children, or special needs.....I like to think of myself as special though, especially when I wear pink furry hats!
For further info (and I imagine opening dates for 2011 nearer the time) visit - www.gnomereserve.co.uk
This review can be found on Ciao with pictures of me in pink hat!