Soaking up nature at Stowe House and Gardens

16th June 2017 No Comment

I’ve done a lot of travel with work over the last few months, so now I’m home for a while it’s time for me to start exploring more of my local area. I live in a rural part of the country, just down the road from Stowe in Buckinghamshire. This pretty little village is home to not only the prestigious Stowe School, but also the stunning Georgian landscaped gardens of Stowe House, which is run by the National Trust.

Close-up view of Stowe House from the side

Close-up of Stowe House (owned by the School)

History

The gardens as you see them today were created by Viscount Cobham from 1717 onwards. Various garden designers continued to develop the gardens until 1748. The park was mainly designed during the Georgian period; gardens during this time were characterised by circuit walks around the park as well as numerous lakes, grottos and temples. Buildings in gardens such as Stowe were often fashioned in a  classical style, making reference to Greek and Roman architecture. Many Georgian landscaped gardens such as Stowe also have extensive grounds and well-laid paths because carriages were increasingly used during this period to view the gardens.

Stunning lake view with trees reflected in the water

Lake views in the gardens

Take a walk

The weather was perfect for our visit – mostly sunny with some fluffy white clouds and a cool breeze. We spent about two and a half hours wandering the grounds, stopping every now and then to soak in spectacular views of Stowe House. When we arrived, we were given a map, which helped us plan our route around the gardens. As well as the main lakes in the garden, there are various temples, statues and seating areas. We quickly discovered that no bench had been placed on a whim, but each was positioned to give the visitor a perfect view of one aspect of the garden.

During our walk we also came across some local wildlife – look out for sheep grazing on the edge of the Stowe estate. On the paths by the lake, we also spied electric blue dragonflies flitting around our feet. The gardens at Stowe really do represent some of the best British landscape design and transport you back in time to rural Georgian England.

View of the rotunda across the lake from a shaded seating area

View of the Rotunda from the Hermitage across the lake

We visited the café for a lovely al fresco lunch before our walk and for ice-cream after. As Stowe Gardens is owned by the National Trust, there’s an information centre, restaurant and toilets at the entrance. The main gardens are about 5 minutes’ walk from there or you can hitch a ride with a park buggy.

View of old buildings by the outside seating area

The seating area outside the cafe

Plan your visit

Stowe House and Gardens is located on the edge of the village of Stowe in Buckinghamshire. The nearest train stations are Milton Keynes (16 miles) and Bicester North (11 miles), but I’d recommend driving to Stowe as it’s located in the middle of the countryside. You also get an incredible view driving onto the estate from the main road. The entrance ticket costs £11.20 for one adult, but if you’re considering visiting more National Trust properties you can become a member for £64.80 for a year to access hundreds of sites around the UK. The ticket only includes entrance to the gardens as Stowe School owns the house.

If you’re really looking for an authentic Georgian-style visit, why not stay in the Gothic Temple? Prices range from around £320-£450 per night for a 3-night stay, depending on the season.

Gothic Temple view with sheep grazing

The Gothic Temple offers self-catered accommodation on the estate

View of white wooden bridge that arches over part of the lake

Picturesque views from the Wooden Bridge across the lake

Standing looking at Stowe House reflected in the lake with trees and lawn

Taking in the first sweeping views of Stowe House and Gardens

Are you interested in visiting another part of England off the beaten track? Take a trip to the south-coast and visit Dartmouth.