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TUNNEL CHALLENGE

Families are being encouraged to experience 200 year old underground tunnels in one of Europe’s largest privately owned Walled Gardens at the National Trust, Croome near Worcester.

Rescued from ruin by owners Chris and Karen Cronin, the tunnels have only recently been restored as part of a larger restoration project of greenhouses, borders and working vegetable plots.

“The red brick heating tunnels, which run underneath the glass houses, are a great example of the ingenuity and pioneering spirit that existed within the Walled Gardens during the early 1800’s,” said Chris Cronin, who with his wife Karen, has self-funded the garden’s restoration. “Since that time technology has moved on a great deal and the tunnels have become redundant, at least as far as their intended purpose goes. When we first discovered them, we had hours of fun disappearing and reappearing in a different part of the garden. Now it’s great to see kids of all ages enjoying the fun while exploring our very own underworld.”

The tunnels were originally constructed to protect and maintain the hot water pipes which carried heat from the boiler house and distributed it to the array of nearby glass houses.

Approximately 35m long, the main tunnel can be walked through in less than a minute. Visitors don a hard hat and descend a flight of steps in the now fully restored fig house. Winding their way through the dimly lit tunnels, which can be a little narrow and low in places, they come up in the boiler house.

Adventurous children will be given a ‘I survived the Croome tunnels’ sticker to show off to their friends and family for their bravery.

There are no age restrictions but children must be accompanied by an adult. The tunnel may not be suitable for all visitors.

The Walled Gardens will be open every Friday, Saturday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Monday until the end of September. The Walled Gardens open from 11am and closes at 5pm with last entry at 4.00pm. There is an entrance fee of £5 (children free when accompanied by a paying adult) in addition to entry to the National Trust parkland. All the money that is raised from the entrance fee is used to help with the costs of restoration. Visit www.croomewalledgardens.com to see full opening details.