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Barefoot in The Park
Trentham Gardens (Stoke-on-Trent)
Member Name: JustaReviewer
Trentham Gardens (Stoke-on-Trent)
Advantages: Beautiful, well-maintained, peaceful gardens.
Disadvantages: Charging twice for boat and train trips.
Calling this place Trentham Gardens doesn't really do it justice as the gardens are just a part of it.
Firstly, there is the shopping village that is made up of purpose built log cabins and contains shops that generally can't be found on the high street, there are some, but the majority aren't, so it's quite a unique place to go shopping. I personally find it brilliant for finding gifts when I can't find the right thing on the high street. It's good to see Royal Worcester, Spode and Portmeirion shops on the site, selling the brands that made Stoke world famous. At the one end of the shopping village is the garden centre which not only has a large number of flowers and plants but also furniture, clothes and toys. Some items are very expensive but they are very good quality. The shopping village is free to enter and the car park is close by so it is easy to walk to but what I like about it is that from the main shopping street the car park cannot be seen.
From the shopping village, there is access to the gardens, which are beautiful and well-kept. There is a charge for entry, which is just about good value for money when considering the amount of work that has gone into revamping and maintaining them. When the weather is fine, it is easy to spend the whole day. Me and my family usually spend the day sitting by the lake while the kids go to the play area and on the barefoot walk. The barefoot walk is something I've never seen before and is definitely a part of the day that is mentioned to everyone who asks what Trentham Gardens is like. Basically, you follow a course, bare footed, so you can feel different textures, the highlight being, the mud bath. The last time I went, a maze was being created in the same area, and it was looking good then, so will be going back to try it out. The play areas, where there is usually lots of noise is far enough away from the Italian gardens and woodland walks for these areas to still be peaceful.
I haven't got around to going to the Monkey Forest yet, but I've heard it's a great way to spend an afternoon though. It is at the other end of the Trentham estate, so if your wanting to visit this part, it's best to go to the other car park (there is a map at www.trentham-monkey-forest.com for directions), but if you want to spend half of the day in the gardens and the other half at the Monkey Forest, there is a boat on the lake that will take you across and drop you off at one of the entrances. There is a charge for the trip there and then if you want to go back, you have to pay again, and of course, there is the charge for entry into the Monkey Forest. If there is a family going it can be quite expensive to do this. There is though a path around the lake which is quite a nice walk and part of the way there is a mini steam train, but again there is one charge for the trip one way and then again if you want to return. This is the only real irritation with Trentham Gardens however.
There are always lots of events going on in the various areas too, a list of the dates can be found on the website (http://www.trentham.co.uk/events.html). The ice rink which overlooks the lake looks great. In the summer there are more events and concerts are held in the garden, which is a lovely way to spend a summer evening.
Summary: Lovely surroundings for shopping or relaxing by the lake.