The Rowntree Park Labyrinth

In early 2019, we worked with local actor and labyrinth designer, Thomas Frere, and the Friends of Rowntree Park to create the Rowntree Park Labyrinth. It was funded by Growing Green Spaces, and launched as part of our Walk Cycle Festival 2019.

The Labyrinth is now maintained by the Friends of Rowntree Park as a space for everyone to enjoy.

What is a Labyrinth?

A Labyrinth is one continuous path that leads into the centre and out again, differing from a maze in that it has no dead ends or wrong turns. Although Labyrinths date back thousands of years and can be found in various forms all over the world, they enjoyed a resurgence during the medieval period in European abbeys where they were perhaps used as an aide to prayer and meditation. More recently, they have again become popular in cathedrals, parks and public spaces.

What can I do in the Labyrinth?

To experience the Labyrinth, simply enter, and walk along the path. You may want to travel slowly and quietly. Enjoy the journey and allow it to take you inward, and encourage you to forget the pressures of life for a while. As the Labyrinth is continuous you do not have to think about where you are going; simply follow the path, enjoy the sights, sounds and smells of the natural surroundings and perhaps meditate or practice mindfulness.

This is a space for everyone. You are free to enjoy it as you wish, but please respect the space and others who are using it. People often enjoy walking the path by themselves or in groups and sitting in the centre for a while. Children may enjoy running along the path as well. However, if people are enjoying a quiet walk, please respect their peaceful contemplation.

Whichever way you decide to travel along the path, if you go both in and out you will have travelled approximately half a mile!

The Tale of the Labyrinth

It’s been a journey so far – a tale of survival through adversity, with its own twists and turns!

The labyrinth was created on the site of an old bowling green in the Park that was rarely used. We felt it was a suitable space – it was big enough area of grass, fairly quiet, with lovely views around the park landscape. We were a little concerned about the quality of the grass, but were hoping it would grow to be suitable for mowing in Spring 2019. However, it didn’t! We needed several sessions of fertilising, scarifying and watering to get the grass growing again.

Then, on the day of the Launch in May 2019, we discovered that the park geese had taken a fancy to wandering the pathways – just the night before. A couple of hours and several bin liners of geese poo later, we were finally able to open it to the public.

Next, in early 2020, came the turn of the floods. They submerged Rowntree Park – and the Labyrinth – for several weeks. The Labyrinth finally emerged from underneath the Ouse floodwater in April 2020. It was a little worse for wear. Most of the planted herbs had died, but its pathways were nearly all intact. And most surprisingly, the chives planted along some of the pathways began to grow again. They burst into purple blooms a month later, even attracting local bees.

What will be the next twist in the Tale, I wonder? 🙂