Exploring Stourhead

Exploring Stourhead

I’ve been wanting to spend a day exploring Stourhead in Wiltshire for absolutely ages.  We were looking for somewhere to spend the day last weekend, and after discounting a couple of options I managed to persuade the OH that this would be worth the drive.  It would also mean my son could get another National Trust stamp for his passport.  So off we set bright and early, it was a frosty morning but with bright sunshine, just the perfect sort of winter day to get outdoors and have some fun.

Exploring Stourhead

It seemed that everyone else had the same idea as us as the car park was overflowing. The ticket office, toilets and restaurant are next to each other, so we decided to have a quick refreshment stop after the long drive, look at the map and plan our time exploring Stourhead.

Top tip; if everyone is heading into the garden turns left, turn right, and you’ll have a quiet walk around the grounds until well past the halfway point!  We much prefer getting away from crowds, and this plan worked well for us.

Stourhead house

The main rooms of the house don’t open until March, but really this particular visit was all about being outdoors, so we weren’t disappointed.  I also have a feeling that we’ll be back later in the year to see the property in a different season.

There are clearly designated pathways to walk along as we spent time exploring Stourhead.  It reminded me a little of our favourite haunt, Stowe, as there are a number of follies dotted around the estate. There’s also an Ice House which thrilled my son.  As regular readers will know, my son has a bit of a thing about Ice Houses so he was very happy to find another one.

Stourhead Ice House

Stourhead Ice House

As we walked along the main pathway away from the lakeside we made another discovery.  This time instead of being something hidden from view, the Obelisk stood rose high above us, topped with a gleaming sun.  We had it all to ourselves on our visit.

Stourhead Obelisk

Stourhead Obelisk

Of course, it wouldn’t be an outdoor adventure with my son if he didn’t find a stick or two along the way.

Exploring Stourhead

Exploring Stourhead

From there we traced our way back along the paths leading down to the lake and decided to walk up to St Peter’s Pump along the parkland, which is at the furthest point to the main gardens. Although the sun was shining, there was still signs of frost in the shade.

Exploring Stourhead

frosted oak leaves

But in the sunshine, it felt like we were somewhere else entirely at times.

Exploring Stourhead

Stiles no longer hold any hesitation for my son these days, but he did have to slow down a little just to make sure his sticks made it over too.

Exploring Stourhead

Now he’s ten my son thinks he’s rather invincible, but even he had to concede that he wasn’t strong enough to move this tree trunk!

Exploring Stourhead

We didn’t realise until much later in the day, but once we’d reached St Peter’s Pump we could have carried on up to King Arthur’s Tower.  Noted for our next visit.  The Pump, dating back to 1474 is the source of the River Stour.

St Peter's Pump Stourhead

St Peter's Pump Stourhead

We retraced our steps in the January sunshine and headed on around the lake.

Exploring Stourhead

I would imagine by now that the snowdrops are out in force.

Stourhead snowdrops

On this side of the lake you walk through the Grotto,

and can visit the Gothic Cottage and look back over the water at one of the iconic views of Stourhead.

Exploring Stourhead

Exploring Stourhead

Even on a January day, it was clear to see the beauty of the place, and I can only imagine how wonderful it is as the leaves turn in the autumn.

Exploring Stourhead

The Pantheon boasts another good view over the gardens and is clearly a popular stop for visitors.

Exploring Stourhead

We went slightly off track after this point which meant we got to see the water wheel and cascades, but also meant we couldn’t figure out how to get back into the main grounds without retracing our steps again.  If anyone knows a quicker way back, please let me know!

On our walk back we stopped to look at the ice still present on the pond.

Exploring Stourhead

Once back inside we walked around the lake looking over to the Temple of Flora.  As we’d walked along the woodland walk on that side of the lake earlier in the day, we hadn’t got to see the temple up close, something for another visit.

Exploring Stourhead

We crossed over the Rock Arch and up through the woodland to the Temple of Apollo. Another great vantage point.

Exploring Stourhead

There was a tunnel to walk through next as we spent time exploring Stourhead.

Exploring Stourhead

And we all deserved a little break to enjoy the view for a minute or two.

Exploring Stourhead

The light was fading by the time we reached the Turf Bridge, so I couldn’t capture the best view of that or the Bristol Cross.

Exploring Stourhead

Exploring Stourhead

Although not part of the National Trust site, it seemed a shame not to pop into the church which is just over the lane from Stourhead.  We got to see some more snowdrops in bloom along the way.

We’d reached the end of our time exploring Stourhead, but although we knew we couldn’t climb up King Arthur’s Tower we still were intrigued to see what it was like from the outside I’ll be sharing more about that in a post soon.

Have you spent time exploring Stourhead?  If so, when would be you suggest is the best time of year to visit?

Exploring Stourhead

 

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11 thoughts on “Exploring Stourhead

  1. We went to see the Christmas Light display at Stourhead. The fairy lit fields and rings of actual fire were quite magical. I really need to go and see it in the daylight now! #CountryKids

  2. I can’t tell you how many lovely photos I’ve seen from here on Country Kids over the years, it always looks so beautiful, especially photos over the lake. One day I’m going to visit for myself, I swaer I know every inch! #CountryKids

  3. What a lovely day out you had exploring Stourhead and all the photos are gorgeous. It’s on my list of places that I’d like to go back to and have a proper walk around. It looks so beautiful, especially the views across the lake. I didn’t know that the Pump was the source of the River Stour and the Gothic Cottage looks like something out of a fairy tale. Thank you for sharing your day out with #CountryKids

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