We stopped off at rural Raphoe in Co Donegal Ireland to visit the 'hidden gem' of Oakfield Park, home of Sir Gerry and Lady Robinson. Oakfield Park was built in 1739 as a Deanery for Raphoe Cathedral so it has a long history. When the Robinsons bought the property in 1998 they set about restoring it and altering the lower boggy fields and meadows into a fantastic children and adult's playpark. It was transformed into a sort of 'magic kingdom', populated by strange architectural features including a castle folly, a giant teapot, a wooden helter skelter structure, sculptured wooden knights and a large maze. Indeed you never know quite what you are going to stumble across round each corner.There are acres of woods divided by forest trails, quaint little bridges and lakes and streams with waterfalls. You can either walk these trails or jump on the superb Earl of Oakfield narrow gauge trainride, ( 4.2 kms), disguised as Thomas the Tank. We did both! ( The kids will love this! )
Did I mention the children's playpark, the Buffet snack bar, the wonderful scenery, the beautifully manicured gardens, the spotless toilets, the helpful young band of estate workers and the speciality days when there are Teddy Bear Picnics or the Harry Potter themed days/weekends?
It will be difficult to drag the children away from all this lower park fun but adults/grandparents, do not forget to cross the road to walk round and view the lakeside Nymphaeum, manicured formal garden/walled/kitchen gardens, and the collection of exclusive trees that surround and lead up to Sir Gerry & Lady Robinson restored country mansion.This upper area is not to be missed by spending all your time on the lower gardens! lol NB To see all quite a bit of walking will be required.
We strongly advise visiting Oakfield Park! We will have to return because there was so much more to see! Be prepared to spend a full day here.
The gardens are open to the public from May to August.There are over 100 acres of breathtaking vistas and walks with sculptures, wildlife and nature to enjoy.
We had no children or teddies but that didn't stop us having a fun day. Come and see it for yourselves! We were very impressed by the cheerful helpful staff and how much care and attention had been taken to ensure we had a good time. I was so impressed that I made 3 videos for my Youtube Channel ( Punch in Tom McClean into Youtube ), detailing our day of exploration.
Entry prices are less than we pay in N.Ireland to gain entry into our National Trust properties. We thought we git more than good value!!