I've been a huge fan of the Jim Henson movie Labyrinth (1986) for many years and actively follow 'fan' related stuff on the internet. Last year through social media I heard it was possible to visit the location of where they shot the opening scene of the film and I knew immediately that I had to make a fan pilgrimage there. I finally chose Sunday...
In the opening scene, the lead character Sarah, played by Jennifer Connelly is seen reciting a passage from a book called Labyrinth. But then the clock strikes, the heavens pour open and she realises she is late to babysit her brother, so she runs over a bridge in a park, in the rain, and then continues to run home.
This is the bridge in question: a still taken from the film...(circa 1986/85)
And this is it now, in 2015...located in West Wycombe Park.
West Wycombe Park is located just outside of London. I caught a train from London Marylebone to High Wycombe and then walked 2.9 miles to get to the park. There are buses that go there (but only 3 a day on a Sunday) it's advisable to drive but as the sun was out, a stroll there seemed like a good idea, even if it did end up taking an hour. The park are the grounds of a manor house which is still lived in by a family. Finding The Bridge was not as easy as I had expected - there are in fact many bridges in the park. I walked around it twice inspecting every bridge from different angles until I finally worked out which one it was.
See what I mean - there were many beautiful bridges at the park...
In the end my companion Worm, (a character who appears in the movie) spotted the exact location.
|The original worm from the movie|
As I knew I was on a mission to find The Labyrinth Bridge I wore my special owl dress which represents the male lead in the film The Goblin Kind, Jareth, played by David Bowie - whose character often disguises himself as an owl.
|David Bowie & Jennifer Connelly in character|
I videoed myself running across the bridge too in true Fan style!
The rest of the park is Stunning. Visitors can either pay to only visit the gardens or the house and the gardens. I paid £5 for the grounds only. Sitting in this park is the perfect way to spend a free afternoon. You're not allowed to picnic here but just sitting down and taking in the epic views is enough to revive, refresh and de-stress you. The park is a good size, not too overwhelming.
I sat back and watched swans and ducks, this handsome one caught my eye as I had not seen this variety before and there was only one.
The park is only open 2pm-6pm and it's possible to spend all four hours there simply taking it all in. I love parks, I go to them at every given opportunity and am blessed to have so many great parks in London, but I have never been to a park like this before. It truly does have a magical feel to it, an air of fantasy and a little taste of what heaven must be like.
Here are the opening hours - they are sadly very limited but then it is someone's home so I guess they like to keep it to themselves too.
Just across from the park is West Wycombe's Hell-Fire caves, I didn't get a chance to visit them on this trip but if you follow the signs up a hill you can look down and get great views of the park (you can just about see the house in the distance.)
The house doesn't have a tea room but there a couple in the village just outside the park. I chose to have mine at West Wycombe Community library - which is the finest public library I've ever seen. Outside are chairs and tables to eat tea alfresco, while inside is a wonderful public library with sofas, surrounded by handmade items for sale.
I bought thus cushion which was made by one of the librarians, she was very sad to see it go but I promised to give it a good home.I timed my visit to get the last bus of the day back into town which left at exactly 18.14 on the dot. While we were waiting, Worm made himself a friend; a giant snail. I think we'll need to come back again so they can visit eachother.
Never watched Labyrinth? A few years ago it was really hard to do so. I spent six years on a waiting list to get hold of a VHS copy (no really!!!) but now it's easily obtainable on DVD is regularly shown at cinemas and is also on You Tube. (It's up to you if you choose to watch it for free, but what I would say is if you watch the first couple of minutes you can at least see the shot I'm talking about!)
The following people inspired me to go on this pilgrimage
LabyrinthWiki, Anthony & The Trevi Owl.