Get Lost in Britain's Best Mazes FEATURE
Feature article by BritEvents.
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Built as both a fun challenge as well as historic and cultural purposes, mazes are both entertaining and magical. Britain has the largest number of mazes in the world, and we take a look at some of the best dotted across the country.
Mazes are one of mankind's oldest cultural artifacts and sacred technologies. The act of walking a maze has been alleged to be able to expand the mind and consciousness, bring the walker face to face with mysteries of the ages, and even to reward the successful maze goer with earthly treasure at the end.
A maze is a puzzle of sorts, but in 3 dimensions, and designed to confuse and disorient. It may be constructed of stone, of hedges made from various plants, from corn plants, or even from hay bales.
Part of the attraction of a maze is its capacity to make the user feel lost, unable to find out the escape route, and it is this feeling that is thought to be valuable in raising the maze traveler to new heights.
At the very least they are entertaining and magical, and Britain has the largest number of the best mazes in the world. Here are some of Britain's best mazes.
The Hampton Court Palace Maze
George London and Henry Wise were the architects of this maze at Hampton Court. William III commissioned the work in 1700, and saw it to completion. Today it is constructed of yew trees and has an area of over a third of an acre. Its shape is in the form of a trapezoid, and it's the oldest hedge maze still in existence in England.
It is of a type known as a puzzle maze, and it features many bad turns, dead ends, and red herring paths. Hampton Court Palace Maze is notoriously difficult to complete, and has historic significance in addition, as the only surviving part of a vast network of paths and labyrinths that was part of William III's Wilderness Garden.
The maze is open daily:
31 October 2011 - 24 March 2012: 10.00-15.45
24 March - 27 October 2012: 10.00-17.15
The Minotaur Maze in Northumberland
A stone maze and large-scale sculpture, the puzzle inspired by the legend of the minotaur intrigues and awes the maze lover. Set like a jewel in the forest at Kielder Castle, it is a work of art and a tribute to the creative mind. The Minotaur Maze was designed by artist Shona Kitchen and architect Nick Coombe, costing 125,000.
A glass room sits at the center of the labyrinth and rewards the maze goer who has made the journey within, just as occurred in ancient times - without the minotaur, of course.
For more details about Kielder's Minotaur Maze, contact Kielder Forest Park on 01434 220643.
The Green Man Maze in Powys
This a maze made from yew and birch, of modern construction in the shape of the Green Man, the famous pagan icon that represents the cycle of growth each spring. It was designed by David Eveleigh, who visualized and constructed the maze, which includes tunnels, pools, hidden gardens, and other delights.
It is of medium difficulty, meant to entertain and artistically please the maze goer rather than to puzzle.
The Hazelhead Park Maze in Aberdeen
This is a difficult maze with a 20th century origin and history. It is a hedge maze composed of privet, and it was first installed in a public park in 1935 by Sir Henry Alexander. The maze is so difficult that a secret escape exit was designed into it so that weary maze solvers could get out of it when exhaustion set in.
Opening hours for the maze are:
Monday to Friday - 10.30am to 6.30pm, with last entry at 6.15pm
Saturday and Sunday - 9.30am to 5.15pm, with last entry at 5pm
The Conwy Valley Garden Maze in North Wales
This maze at over 2 acres is currently the largest hedge maze in the world, an honour previously held by the hedge maze at Longleat. It is a modern design by Giovanni Angelo Jacovelli and Bob Haberfield, an artist from Australia.
It is composed of yew, and features gardens with various themes at different points in the maze. Features include a rose garden with over 200 roses, a tropical garden, a butterfly garden to leave visitors aflutter, and a Japanese Zen garden that provides a welcome haven for weary maze travelers.
The record breaking maze is normally open every weekend from 10am until 6pm, and midweek from Easter to end of October.
The Great Worcester Maize Maze in Worcestershire
This maze is a corn maize of recent origin, with a low level of difficulty since it was designed to attract tourists. It covers over 10 acres and is set in a naturally beautiful area, making it a great day out for all the family. After completing the maze, families can enjoy the fun at the adjacent courtyard for some challenging games and entertainment.
The Great Worcester Maize maze is open throughout the summer holidays and weekends in September, and is located on the B4424 Upton Road, just outside Powick.
The Peace Maze in County Down
The hedge maze in Castlewellan Forest Park was the longest and largest permanent hedge maze in the world up until 2007, made of a very difficult and complex network of over 6.000 yew trees. It has an area of over 2 acres and the length of the hedges if laid out straight would be over 2 miles. It was installed in 2000 to commemorate Northern Ireland's decision to declare peace and reconciliation, and celebrated the signing of the Good Friday Agreement.
The Peace Maze design was based on the competition entries from more than four thousand school children throughout Northern Ireland.
The Amazing Cornish Maize Maze in Cornwall
A modern maze constructed of corn, this Cornwall tourist attraction features huge maize stalks, smaller inside mazes within the outer maze, and puzzles and quizzes along the way. The proprietors feature a different theme every year to keep the attraction fresh, and the level of difficulty is low.
This giant maze is situated on a working farm on the Duchy of Cornwall's estate, and was created by Adrian Fisher, known across the world for creating spectacular mazes. To entertain young and old, there are also bouncy castles, trampolines, swings, tractor rides and a cafe serving delicious food.
The Splashing Water Maze in Kent
This a a walkway maze and is unique in its construction, in that it is made of concentric circles of stepping stones, nestled in the middle of a shallow lake on an island covering 16 acres. Situated at the historic Hever Castle, the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, successful traversal of the maze means getting to the center which features a stone grotto, without getting wet.
The designers of the maze have made this a difficult aim by building in stones that tilt and unexpected jets of water that surprise the unwary. On artistic merit alone, it's one of Britain's best mazes.
The Noah's Ark Maze in Somerset
This recently constructed installation claims to be the longest maze made of hedge in the world - over 3 kilometers long. With 14,000 beech trees making a replica of Noah's Ark in shape and size, the total maze has 15 varying sections, each of which poses a different question to the maze traveller. If the answer is correct, you'll be told the fastest route to the solution to the maze. if you get it wrong, you just move on to the next section. A difficult and clever design awaits the maze tourist here.
The Longleat Hedge Maze in Wiltshire
This hedge maze was built by commission of Lord Bath in 1975. It is a large fairly difficult maze featuring wooden bridges at 6 different points in the maze. Each bridge is designed to give the maze walker a view over the route and visual clues to the solution. In the centre of the maze stands an observation tower from which the successful traveler can view the maze as a whole - and hopefully puzzle over how to get out. Longleat is a classic English estate which features other attractions including small mazes and maze-like gardens.
Allow between 20-90 minutes to complete the Longleat Hedge Maze. As the website says, 'you're bound to get lost'.
The Forbidden Corner in Yorkshire
Comprised of a garden covering over 4 acres in Tupgill Park, this maze is a true labyrinth with secret chambers, tricky tunnels, follies and mind-bending puzzles. it was designed and installed in the 1980s as a private amusement.
Due to public demand, it was opened to the public, who have been getting lost in it ever since. The maze contains other attractions such as sculptures and statues around every corner. It is a truly odd piece of mazery, and well worth visiting as one of Britain's best mazes.
The York Maze in Yorkshire
Covering over 32 acres of area, this maze also boasts a population of over 1.5 million maize plants. Many of the Star Trek characters are immortalized as shapes in the maze, which was designed with the help of space-age technology that would have made Captain Kirk proud. It is a difficult maze with much to admire within its lengthy and complex confines.
Don't forget the unmissable Crowmania ride for some crazy mazy fun!
The Traquair Maze in Peeblesshire
The longest and largest hedge maze in Scotland is located on the grounds of Traquair Castle.
The maze has been built covering over half an acre and it is a journey of a quarter of a mile to the centre point of the maze.
Designed to delight and confuse as well, the maze features 4 false centers that must be mastered before the true centre can be found, and there are no dead ends.
This one is a true jewel of the maze-maker's art and is a fairly hard one to master.
Mazes are essentially beautiful sculptures carved from natural materials and framed in natural settings. They range from the ridiculous to the sublime, but each one has a special ability to mystify and amaze the person who seeks it out. The traveller who has seen and been lost in one of Britain's best mazes has made many journeys from one.
Main picture copyright NotFromUtrecht under the Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 3.0 Unported license.