For those who like their solving to have an added element of jeopardy, a hedge maze is the obvious choice. We say: where’s the fun if there’s not the possibility that you might have to call in a rescue team?
This most ancient of puzzles crops up all over the world. Here are a few to track down and tackle.
Yancheng Dafeng Dream Maze — Jiangsu, China
Shaped like a giant elk, the Yancheng Dafeng Dream Maze covers a gigantic 35,596 square metres and holds the Guinness World Records title for the world’s largest permanent hedge maze.
The main elk puzzle is connected to a variety of smaller routes including a glass maze and a children’s maze.
It also holds the record for ‘largest pathway network in a permanent hedge maze’.
There are bridges and statues throughout, and even an observatory tower, if you need a bit of help seeing what’s what. Given that it also holds the record for ‘largest pathway network in a permanent hedge maze’ (at nearly 6 miles), that’s a distinct possibility!
Labyrinth Park of Horta — Barcelona, Spain
Set in Barcelona’s oldest garden, this cypress tree conundrum and its nearby terraces are wonderful examples of neoclassical design.
Before entering the maze, visitors are faced with a marble relief referencing the Greek myth of Theseus and the Minotaur. As well as the inscription:
“Enter, and you will emerge without difficulty, the labyrinth is simple, the ball of thread Ariadne gave to Theseus will not be required”.
Those who venture in and choose the correct path will meet another familiar figure — a statue of Eros, the Greek god of love, is situated it at its centre.
With nods to Greek and Roman mythology throughout the grounds, there’s plenty to keep legend lovers entertained.
Hampton Court Palace Maze — Richmond upon Thames, England
The most famous in the world to many, Hampton Court Palace maze dates back to around 1700 and was commissioned by King William III.
Its trapezoid design of twists, turns and dead ends is the work of George London and Henry Wise. Although now formed of yew trees, it was originally planted using hornbeam.
The average adventurer takes 20 minutes to reach its centre.
Fun fact: Willard Small, the first person to use the behaviour of rats in mazes as a measure of learning, took the Hampton Court design as the template for his experiments.
Bago Vineyard Maze — New South Wales, Australia
Here’s one for wine-lovers.
The maze at Bago Vineyard in Herons Creek boasts lookout towers and musical instruments — and it’d just be rude not to visit the vineyard on the way out...
This puzzling feature of the family-run farm is made of lilly pilly plants, which are native to Australia.
Villa Pisani Labyrinth — Venice, Italy
Known for its difficulty, the Villa Pisani Labyrinth in the Venetian town of Stra was created in 1720.
Consisting of nine concentric circles of boxwood hedges, it includes a central tower with a double helical external staircase.
Many historical figures have passed through the villa at one time or another, including Napoleon Bonaparte. It’s said that he tried to complete the maze, but had to give up.
Longleat Maze — Wiltshire, England
Covering 1.48 acres, the hedge maze at Longleat is the biggest in Britain.
Added to the estate in 1978, it’s made up for over 16,000 English yew trees and entrants are aiming for the observation tower in the middle.
It’s a tricky one… The height of the trees and the maze’s sheer size means you could be stuck in there a while.
The task is made slightly easier by a team of gardeners (on stilts) who keep the paths clear by cutting the 3.2 miles of hedgerow once a year.
Pineapple Garden Maze — Hawaii, USA
For a labyrinth filled with fragrant plant species, head to Oahu, Hawaii.
There is, of course, a pineapple at the centre of this maze — but the goal isn’t just to get there. You have to finish the Pineapple Garden Maze game whilst you’re doing it.
With eight secret stations to find, each giving facts about a Hawaiian island, there’s more to this puzzle than meets the eye.
Castlewellan Peace Maze — County Down, Northern Ireland
This maze in Northern Ireland comprises 6000 yew trees, planted by people from all over the nation.
The layout encourages communication between solvers. This points to the maze’s origins — it was designed to reflect the reconciliation efforts in the country following the Troubles.
Visitors try to navigate the maze and reach the peace bell in the centre. They then give it a ring to announce that the puzzle has been solved.
Set in the stunning Castlewellan Forest Park in County Down, it’s surrounded by views of the sea and the mountains.