HPB’s holiday booking service has been rated 4.7 out of 5
based on 14711 customer reviews on Feefo.
Feefo Platinum Award Feefo logo

The Lady's Slipper Orchid: Britain's rarest wildflower

Posted by Katy Peck on 1 June 2022
Related property: Kings Arms, Askrigg
The Lady's Slipper Orchid: Britain's rarest wildflower

There’s a reason we welcome so many nature-lovers to the Kings Arms – the Yorkshire Dales are a haven for wildlife, birds, flora and fauna. From red squirrels to birds of prey, you never know what you might spot as you head off for a scenic stroll through the National Park. But did you know that the Yorkshire Dales can lay claim to the rarest wildflower in Britain?  Here you'll find the elusive and exotic Lady’s Slipper Orchid.

Once upon a time, the Lady’s Slipper Orchid grew freely throughout Northern England. There’s even tales of bundles of the plant being sold in the marketplaces of Settle and Skipton. However, during the Victorian Era it fell victim to the orchid hunting craze, otherwise known as ‘orchidelirium’. During this time, wealthy collectors sent explorers to all corners of the world with the mission of finding new species of these beautiful and delicate flowers. Sadly, due to this obsession, the Lady Slipper Orchid was declared extinct in 1917.

… Until, astonishingly, 1930. Thirteen years after the flower was thought to have vanished, a botanist working in the Yorkshire Dales stumbled across a single plant, growing alone in a secluded part of the National Park. The Lady’s Slipper Orchid instantly became the rarest wildflower in Britain and a group called the Cypripedium Committee was formed to conserve and protect it. For almost 40 years, only a small group of botanists even knew about the plant’s continued existence.

Ladies slippers flower

The site where the single flower was discovered has remained a closely guarded secret to this very day, although the location has managed to leak into the public domain on a few occasions. Due to this, the plant is guarded during spring and summer, ensuring it doesn’t fall victim to overzealous orchidophiles or heavy-footed hikers! There’s even reports of the flower's wardens using trip-wires to alert them to intruders at the site.

The beauty of this flower is the reason it has become so rare - it’s easy to imagine Victorian orchid enthusiasts falling in love with its bright colours and exotic shape. Growing to around 30cm tall and taking up to 10 years to flower, the Lady’s Slipper then produces just one single bloom per plant. It’s this flower which gives the plant it’s unusual name; the yellow slipper-like pouch is surrounded by rich ribbons of dark maroon petals. In fact, it’s often called one of the most exquisite plants to grow in the British countryside.

A reintroduction project for the Ladies Slipper flower started in 1990. Seeds taken from the one remaining white lady slipper orchid were taken to the Royal Botanic Garden at Kew, where they were successfully propagated and reintroduced to various locations across the country. The majority have been returned to Yorkshire, including Kilnsey Park, which is one of the few sites where the plants have flowered. The plant was even taken to the Chelsea Flower Show in 2013, where it had its own private security guards.

lady slipper orchid

Luckily for nature lovers staying at the Kings Arms, Kilnsey Park is open to the public. Although it’s a 45-minute drive from Askrigg, it’s worth it to catch a glimpse of Britain’s rarest wildflower. The Lady’s Slipper was introduced to the park in 2007 and first flowered some years later, much to everyone’s delight. Some of the orchids can now be seen from the publicly accessible nature walk, but be aware – they only flower for a couple of weeks a year, so plan your visit carefully! Admission dates and times, prices and information on guided walks can all be found on the Kilnsey park website.

With plenty of opportunities to get out and about in nature, the Yorkshire Dales is a fantastic choice for lovers of the great outdoors. Whether you’re a green-fingered expert or just an enthusiastic beginner, you’ll find plenty to keep you busy. Nestled in the delightful village of Askrigg, the Kings Arms and Lodge Yard are the perfect base for your adventures.

Lady Slipper Orchid FAQs

What does Lady Slipper Orchid symbolise?

In the language of flowers, Lady's Slipper Orchids stand for 'capricious beauty' - sudden and unpredictable attraction. The various colours that the flowers come in also have different meanings; pink is love and grace, yellow is friendship and new beginnings, and white is purity.

Why is the Lady Slipper Orchid endangered?

A large reason for the decline of the Lady Slipper Orchid was the orchid-hunting craze of the Victorian era. However, habitat destruction and urbanisation also played a role in the endangerment of this delicate flower.

How do Lady Slippers multiply?

These fascinating plants interact with a specific type of fungus in the soil in order to multiply. Unlike many flowers, orchid seeds do not have an inbuilt food supply to give them the energy they need to grow, so this fungus cracks the shell and provides it with the required nutrients.

Where do Lady Slippers grow best?

Lady Slippers grow best in shaded woodland - which is part of what makes the lush forests of the Yorkshire Dales such a perfect environment!

Click here to find out more about how you can enjoy a stay in Kings Yard, as well as our other holiday properties throughout the UK and Europe.

Katy Peck

Katy Peck

How can I find out more?

The Holiday Property Bond could do as much for your quality of life as it has done for many thousands of families who have already invested. That's why we invite you to get in touch with us in any of these 3 ways and please don't forget our unique 'Money back promise' and 'interest free loan' options.

Request our brochure Speak to a representative Explore one of our UK sites

Please request our fully illustrated holiday property brochure

Please read "How HPB works" and then we will be delighted to send you our brochure, including our property portfolio, and your FREE copy of Insight Magazine. See the beautiful holiday homes and magnificent locations where you can spend your holidays as a Bondholder and learn how impressed Bondholders have been by our handling of the problems caused by coronavirus.

Please complete and submit the form or, alternatively, telephone our FREE brochure request line on 0800 230 0391

Request a brochure
Title *  
First Name *  
Surname *  
Email address *
Postcode *  
Telephone number
How did you hear about us?

We will use the details you provide above to send you our detailed HPB brochure and keep you updated about HPB holiday offers. Details of how we use the information you provide are in our privacy policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

* Indicates required fields
HPB’s holiday booking service has been rated 4.7 out of 5 based on 14711 customer reviews on Feefo.

You can speak to one of our representatives

Your local HPB representative will be happy to call or video call you at a convenient time for an informal chat. Simply fill in your details and we'll do the rest.

Most of our representatives are Bondholders themselves and all have visited a number of Bond sites.

The representative will give you all the information you need and then leave you to make up your own mind. He or she will talk to you about your holiday requirements and what level of investment is needed to secure the kind of holidays you want.

Video chat now available with a local representative

This request is for new enquiries only, if you are an existing Bondholder please contact us via myBond.

How should we contact you? *  
Title *  
First Name *  
Surname *  
Email address *
Telephone number *  
Post code *  
Preferred Date/Time
Preferred Date/Time 2
Preferred Date/Time 3
Please contact me to arrange a date

Your local representative will contact you to confirm the date and time.

Date/Time *  
How did you hear about us?
Chosen date (choose above) *
Chosen time (choose above) *

We will use the details you provide above for a representative to contact you. Details of how we use the information you provide are in our privacy policy.

This site is protected by reCAPTCHA and the Google Privacy Policy and Terms of Service apply.

* Indicates required fields

See our stunning holiday properties for yourself

Having a Private Tour at an HPB holiday location is an enjoyable way to see the high standards of furnishings and facilities you could enjoy with HPB. One of our representatives will show you around the site and answer any questions you may have.

Alternatively, you are welcome to book a Personal Presentation at a hotel near you. You can chat to one of our representatives, ask your questions and view the complete portfolio of HPB locations.


This advertisement is issued by HPB Management Limited (HPBM), the main UK agent and the property manager for HPB, authorised and regulated by the Financial Conduct Authority, registered at HPB House, Newmarket, Suffolk, CB8 8EH. HPB is available exclusively through HPBM. HPB is issued by HPB Assurance Limited (HPBA) registered in the Isle of Man and authorised by the Financial Services Authority there. The Trustee of HPB is Equiom (Isle of Man) Limited, registered at Jubilee Buildings, Victoria Street, Douglas, Isle of Man, IM1 2SH. The Securities Adviser is Stanhope Capital LLP of 35 Portman Square, London W1H 6LR. No medical examination is required.

HPBM promotes only HPB and is not independent of HPBA. Holders of policies issued by HPBA will not be protected by the Financial Services Compensation Scheme if the company becomes unable to meet its liabilities to them but Isle of Man compensation arrangements apply to new policies.