17 July 2013

Timeless Paradise: Stourhead Gardens

Rather as a resident or an out of town visitor to England, a day trip to a National Trust property should be on your agenda.

Over 100 years ago the National Trust was founded as a not-for-profit organisation whose aim is to preserve and protect the nation's heritage and open spaces. They protect historic homes, gardens, mills, coastline, forests, farmland, moorland, islands, castles, nature reserves, villages and even pubs.

Most recently I enjoyed an afternoon at National Trust's Stourhead Gardens with Ouisie and a girlfriend. Wishing to enjoy the glorious English summer weather we brought a picnic, but should you prefer, a pub style restaurant is available at The Spread Eagle Inn located on the Stourhead estate.

As we walked towards the main garden entrance we passed a row of cottages that I learned are available for holiday rental. As the garden is open year round, guests can hire a cottage in any season and enjoy the ever changing landscape. I banked that idea for a future retreat to enjoy with Chef and Ouisie.

We decided to enjoy a walk around the lake and admire the iconic temples and monuments before lunch. Ouisie loved playing in a makeshift fort in the woods, tossing coins into the grotto's fountain, playing warden at the Gothic Cottage , and racing up the hillside to the Obelisk.

We crossed bridges with sleeping trolls underneath, spotted butterflies, and looked for elves hiding in the trees. The walk took about 1.5 hours but felt like 30 minutes.

The path is suitable for strollers and I recommend bringing it along for little ones. There was only one set of cobbled stairs on leaving the Grotto. Otherwise, very stroller friendly.

We found our perfect picnic spot and shared it with the resident ducks. After relaxing under the shade of an Oak we packed up our belongings and paid a visit to the ice cream parlour before leaving for home.

sweet ending to our adventurous girls' day out...

For more information on Stourhead Gardens and other National Trust properties visit the National Trust website here.

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