Bailey Ridge Nr Leigh, Sherborne, Dorset DT9 6HU  -  Tel: 01963 210999

Abbotsbury Swan Maze

The maze is in the shape of a giant swan created in living willow and at the centre is a three-metre woven willow egg to which visitors to the Swannery can choose to find their way.The Willow Maze was designed and planted for the Swannery in January-February 2008 by Alan Dodge of The Company of Landscapers.


The project collected the British Association of Landscape Industries (BALI) Special Award for Landscape Contribution to Education which was  presented in London by TV personality Clive Anderson.

“The Willow Maze at Abbotsbury Swannery is incredibly popular with families because as well as being great fun it gives them an opportunity to learn about the environment and the history of the swannery as they complete the clues spread around the maze on their way to the centre”

The Dorset Echo


This unique construction of locally grown and harvested willow, precision built to an exacting design, was conceived to add an extra attraction to the world famous Swannery at Abbotsbury. The original idea grew into the spectacle seen on site today: six egg-shaped igloos (the number of eggs normally found in a clutch of swan’s eggs), mark the entrance to the maze, all interlinked to make a fun house. Then into the maze and at its centre there is a central ovum-shaped dome with a ‘sky hole’, again shaped like an egg.


The trail through the maze has six clues, each delivering a message about conservation and the natural habitat, and resulting in a word that, if correct, provides the visitor with a future free visit. To construct the maze The Company of Landscapers had to learn a new skill – basket weaving – and work within a specific time frame to ensure that the willow poles and whips would ‘strike’. There has been an almost 100 per cent success rate so that later this year, and certainly next, the willow hedges that form the maze will be impenetrable and mask the route to its centre.