Less than 15 miles north of the centre of York, on the edge of the Howardian Hills, is the Dutch House at Crayke, home to an ecological sculpture garden, art studio, and cafe. The gorgeous gardens, which include a wild flower meadow and sculptures, are a wonderful place for children to explore, with magnifying glasses provided for spotting small creatures. There is also a nature area especially for children with an igloo style den made out of willow and large papier-mache toadstools to play Hoopla.
Sjaak and Cecile, originally from Holland, had often dreamed about running a business involving art and nature and that’s exactly what they’ve created (with a cafe to boot). As well as the gardens there’s an art studio where workshops are run for grown-ups and they also have art and craft activities for kids (generally on the last Sunday of the month but also at other times during the school holidays).
The cafe is child-friendly with a blackboard wall and chalks for little ones who like to doodle, plus jigsaws and books for the less artistic. If the weather is nice then there are also tables in the courtyard. The food has a Dutch theme with pancakes – both sweet and savoury – featuring heavily on the menu. They also offer a range of sandwiches with small portions for the kids.
Breakfast (pancakes make another appearance but they also offer a full English) is served until 11.30am with a lunch and snack menu being available after that. They are licensed, so a selection of beer and wine is available with food.
My personal favourites are Poffertjes, which are mini pillow-like pancakes. They’re gorgeous with a generous sprinkling of icing sugar and although they might be a little difficult to pronounce, they’re well worth ordering! You can even take home some Dutch produce from the little shop.
If you want good food, fresh air and somewhere for the kids to explore outdoors (and pancakes.. did we mention pancakes?) then the Dutch House is well worth a trip.
Dutch House, Mill Green Farm, Crayke, York, YO61 4TT www.dutchhouseyorkshire.com