Days Out, Photography, UK

National Trust – Bodnant Garden

It’s been a little while since I took you on a tour of a National Trust property, so I am back to show you another one. This one is quite special. This one represents home.

I was lucky enough to grow up in a small village in the Conwy Valley, North Wales. The view from my childhood bedroom window was one of fields, trees and mountains – things you never appreciate as a child. As a teenager, my main concern would be when the next hourly bus would arrive to take me away from the tiny village to the ‘bright lights’ and shops of the (fairly small) town a few miles away.

Anyway, back to that bedroom window view. Across the valley and nestled among the trees on a hillside was a beautiful Georgian mansion house called Bodnant House, which sits in 80 acres of some of the most spectacular gardens in the United Kingdom – Bodnant Garden. Founded in 1874 by Henry Davis Pochin, the gardens were created and developed by various generations of the McLaren family (Laura McLaren being the daughter of Henry) and gifted to the National Trust in 1949.

Of course, as a child I had no interest in visiting this beautiful property a couple of miles away. In fact, it probably wasn’t until my thirties, being a home and garden owner that I decided I was grown up enough to get myself an annual National Trust membership and on that basis decided to call in when I was nearby. I probably visit a couple of times a year now, as it’s quite nice to see the gardens across the different seasons!

Bodnant Gardens (37)
Image taken from National Trust Bodnant Garden website

For this post I’ll take you on a photographic journey of my favourite spots on a route from the garden entrance to the far end of the property (which is conveniently called the Far End).


On first entering the gardens you will arrive at the East Garden (3 on the map) and the Front Lawn (4) of Bodnant House, offering some great views of the Georgian mansion and the Carneddau mountain range in the background.

Bodnant Gardens (1)

Bodnant Gardens (4)

Taking a pathway around to the side of the house, it’s lovely to wander through the Rose Garden (5) and down the steps to the Terraces (7).

Bodnant Gardens (8)

Bodnant Gardens (10)

Bodnant Gardens (12)

The Terraces lead you to one of Bodnant’s most iconic and photographed buildings, The Pin Mill (8), which was designated a Grade II listed building in 1952. Interestingly it was originally built as a garden house circa 1730 in Gloucestershire before being purchased, dismantled and re-built at Bodnant Garden in 1939 – the things you learn when you do a bit of research, eh!

It’s a great building to photograph – not only is it a thing of architectural beauty but the reflections on the lily pond are just fantastic, wouldn’t you agree?

Bodnant Gardens (15)

Bodnant Gardens (15a)

Heading around the back of The Pin Mill, the gardens take more of a wild and natural turn compared to the formal layouts nearer the house. This section heads down a fairly steep hillside full of small brooks and streams and all of the lush greenery that comes along with it.

Bodnant Gardens (18)

Bodnant Gardens (20)

One thing I love about photographing plants is the contrasts in texture and vibrancy of the colours. It’s always worth doing a few close up shots.

Bodnant Gardens (21)

Bodnant Gardens (22)

Down this steep hillside and to the bottom of the valley, crossing a small stone bridge, we arrive at the next stunning building – The Old Mill (10). Another Grade II listed building which was built circa 1832, it certainly looks weathered with it’s lush green mossy roof, which gives it character and charm.

Bodnant Gardens (25)

Bodnant Gardens (26)

This is a great spot to take a break (as there is a cafe and toilet facilities) and look back up the rocky hillside from where you have come.

Bodnant Gardens (27)

Ready to carry on? Well, this area of Bodnant Gardens is probably my favourite. Charmingly known as The Dell, this gorgeous wooded valley which follows the route of the Hireathlyn River features meandering pathways around shrubbery and a collection of large redwoods, including the tallest Sequoia Sempervirens in the UK. I have loved these trees since seeing them in the Californian National Parks, so to see such a grand specimen at about 49m high on home ground is amazing.

Bodnant Gardens (28)

Bodnant Gardens (29)

Bodnant Gardens (30)

Carrying on along the riverside pathways, it’s nice to see new signs of life sprouting, before arriving at the Waterfall Bridge (20), another iconic feature of the gardens. The bridge was built in the early 1900’s when a dam was created on the river to add more scenery in the area.

Bodnant Gardens (33)

Bodnant Gardens (34)

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Passing the Waterfall Bridge, it’s onto the final stretch to arrive at the Far End, an area which opened to the public in 2015 after five years of renovation work. The area includes a lake known as The Skating Pond (22) and a gorgeous little Boat House (23).

Bodnant Gardens (36)

There is another refreshments kiosk and some picnic tables at the far end of the Skating Pond, which is a good opportunity to recharge the batteries before heading back up the slopes towards the front of the gardens.

There are alternative routes which are worth taking on the way back. Crossing the river from the Boat House, you can wander through the Arboretum (21) area and some shaded woodland before arriving back near the Waterfall Bridge. At this point take a detour up the hill to see The Poem (19), a mausoleum building built by Henry Davis Pochin as a last resting place for his family.

Bodnant Gardens (35)

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From here, it’s a fairly nice (and not too difficult) stroll back up towards the East Garden, where, if you are lucky to be visiting in late May / early June, you will be able to see one of Bodnant Garden’s most popular attractions, The Laburnum Arch (14). A 55m long, curved pergola walkway where the golden laburnum flowers bloom in the spring creating a great spectacle. Good luck with photographing this scene without hordes of people in the way though!

Bodnant Gardens (7)

And here ends today’s tour. Outside of the entrance gates, there is a lovely tea room run by the National Trust, where you can grab some lunch, or coffee and cake before you head off to sample some more of North Wales’ great attractions. We’ll come back to that another day.


Address: Bodnant Rd, Tal-y-cafn, Colwyn Bay LL28 5RE

12 thoughts on “National Trust – Bodnant Garden”

  1. In looking at the pictures, I was immediately reminded of Middleton Place Plantation and gardens in Charleston, SC. (my ancestor’s home). Your pictures are so beautiful.

  2. Your wonderful photos have just prompted me to look back through my own camping blog to check on the last time I went to Bodnant Gardens – it was in August 2013 so nearly five years since, though it doesn’t seem that long. Where does time go?? The Far End looks really intriguing so another visit will definitely be on the cards this year 🙂

  3. Living in Abergele, Bodnant is more or less on our doorstep now, so we get to visit about every 6 weeks ….watching the garden unfurl through Winter and into Spring unfold into Summer lovlieness and then slowly relaxing into Autumn before going back to sleep to recharge for Spring once again ….always something beautiful to see, especially if you get there as they open and are the first to experience the fauna ans well as the flora.

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