Lotherton Hall in north Leeds used to be somewhere we would take the girls a couple of weekends each month. Before the pricing policy change in 2011 we would go there and park for the day for about £5 and have access to the playground, countryside walks, the gardens and the bird gardens. It’s a lovely place to go. When the entry prices were changed to a pay-per-person basis it was no longer a cheap day out for us and we stopped going. Last weekend was the first time we’ve visited in 8 years and we had a really good day.
What do you want to do on Father’s Day?
A simple enough question from Helen in the week running up to Father’s Day. As someone who loves to get out and about and capture photos of the girls, of course, I was going to pick a day out somewhere. Especially as it was a rare weekend day when we were all available.
As English Heritage members I did think about going to one of their sites. After all, money is tight and it would have been pretty low cost. But then I was browsing through our photo archives and came to a photo of the four girls taken on our last visit to Lotherton Hall and had the idea that recreating it would be pretty cool.
So, Lotherton Hall, it was to be.
A happy coincidence
Aside from a slight annoyance at the entry gate and being slightly over-charged (despite my protests) getting into Lotherton hall was easy, and no queues. However, the main car park, as in the one with a tarmac surface, was full and we were funnelled right around the back to a field.
Then we found out why. It was a wartime weekend and there were various things going on, not least lots of people in 1940s clothing wandering around. Helen suspected that I knew this was going on and hence why I wanted to come. I can, hand on heart, state that I didn’t know. But, it was a happy coincidence.
The main selling point, in my opinion, of Lotherton Hall, has always the bird garden. Except it’s not just a bird garden any longer. It would appear that in our absentia the bird gardens have been undergoing a transformation into Wildlife World.
The entrance (and exit) gate has been transformed. You walk along a boardwalk structure over an enclosure containing warty pigs. Now, they look like warthogs to me, but no, they are actually different. To get any further in you now go through a roundhouse shop building selling the usual child-attracting wares. Soft toys, books, posters, notepads, pencils, pens and…did I many soft toys? I’ll admit that I make as fast a pass through these shops as I possibly can do. I have a natural detest for attractions that force you to pass through a shop, particularly on the way out. With wildlife world you get a double whammy of the “Daddy can I have” by passing through twice!
Once through the shop (phew!) you immediately come upon the Humboldt penguin pool. This is a great addition and they have an enclosure that of a good size. One path takes you alongside windows so you can see the penguins swimming underwater.
Who doesn’t love a penguin? Come on?
Anyway, we happened to be there at feeding time so there was plenty of activity to see. It was at this point too that I handed over my Canon 50D with 75-300mm lens to Delilah to gets some photos!
When I say “the birds” I am not talking about the Alfred Hitchcock classic (that I can’t stand). No, it’s the array of birds that are residents of Lotherton Hall.
I couldn’t tell you how many species of bird are here and sadly the Lotherton Hall website doesn’t seem to have that detail either. Let’s just leave it at “a lot”.
Some of my favourite bird photographs have been made at Lotherton. Here’s one from a number of years ago. It’s a Hammerkop feeding on a chick.
While there are plenty of open enclosures, most of them are enclosed. It’s not a hands-on place really but still great for all ages. There is a large, walk-through area that is enclosed where I actually shot the photo above. Some of the enclosures look like they need some TLC, but I have no doubt that the birds are well cared for.
The white peacock is stunning. We were treated to a fabulous show from him the photograph below was actually shot by Grace. I’m proud to say that my daughter took this.
Of course, no exhibit of birds would be complete without an owl. I have a real fondness for owls and I could watch them all day – if that were possible of course. The owls at Lotherton Hall seem to like languishing at the back of their enclosures. However, this beauty flew to a perch near the front for her (massive assumption here – I’ve no idea is it was a he or she) photo taking.
If you enjoy photography then the bird gardens, sorry, Wildlife world is a great place to get some fantastic shots. Here are a few I’ve made from previous visits.
What else is on offer?
It’s not all about Wildlife World at Lother Hall. There are plenty of other things to do.
Take a stroll around the deer park and watch the majestic red deer. If you’re lucky they will be close enough to get some great photos. There’s even a hide there now to get even close if they are in that paddock. They weren’t very close on this occasion so I grabbed this shot of a lone female while she was grazing away from the heard.
The house & chapel
We’ve never actually looked inside Lother Hall itself. You can explore the house, including servants quarters, as it would have been in the early 1900s. This is something we’ll have to do on our next visit.
The chapel is also somewhere we’ve never looked at. It dates back to 1100s and was restored during the First World War when the hall was used as a military hospital. When it was built, the chapel was part of the medieval village of Luttrington.
The gardens at Lotherhall Hall are magnificent. There is so much to explore and you can find a quiet corner and just sit and relax. The red brick arch in the photo below is within the gardens and always reminds me of The Secret Garden.
I’d completely forgotten how lovely Lotherton Hall and its surroundings truly are. I feel guilty that I took umbrage at the changes to the pricing policy as this was the cause of our almost 9-year hiatus. It’s a bit far for us to be visiting frequently but it’s somewhere I hope to get back to a few times a year. We’ll be back during the summer holidays for sure.
Thanks for reading