Monday, 18 March 2019

A Week in Somerset #6 - Stourhead NT

Hi there everyone 😀

Whilst we were spending our week in Somerset back in November we managed to take in two of the local National Trust properties. Our first visit was to Montacute House, and our second found us at Stourhead, described by the National Trust as being a ...
"Palladian house and world-famous landscape garden"
I had visited the gardens before, many years ago, but it was a property which was brand new to Martin, so we were both looking forward to exploring.
We were only spending the afternoon here so the focus of our visit was totally on the gardens, where we were hoping to find the last bits of autumn colour before the winter really set in.

We knew it was going to be a bit of a walk so we decided we would head for the lake and see how we got on. The walk to the lake is well signposted and we headed down a zig zag footpath, which had just been decorated for the Christmas season ...
The footpath took us through a courtyard past the Spread Eagle Inn, which looked like it might be getting a visit on our way back, past some estate cottages ...
... and the Bristol Cross ...
The weather so far was good, with glorious sunshine and clear blue skies, though rain was forecast.

The garden at Stourhead is not your normal everyday National Trust property garden, if indeed there is such a thing. There is a more traditional walled garden up near the house but that was not for us today. The National Trust describes Stourhead as being one of England's greatest landscape gardens ...
"With hills, water and classical architecture overlaid by a fabulous collection of trees and shrubs, Stourhead was described as ‘a living work of art’ when first opened in the 1740s. Meandering paths offer vistas through trees to classical temples and surprises at every turn. Stourhead is breathtaking in any season but on sunny spring and autumn days, the flowering spring shrubs and the flaming autumnal colours of the trees reflected in the magnificent lake are breathtaking."
The first view we had of the garden was that of the Palladian Bridge, totally unnecessary as a crossing point but beautiful all the same ...
There is a well defined footpath leading around the lake which ensures you get to enjoy all of the best views.

We made our way along to the Temple of Flora from where the views across the lake towards The Pantheon were just stunning ...
We also had good views of the Boathouse, right on the edge of the lake, almost hidden amongst the trees ...
We carried on along the path towards the viewpoint at the far end of the lake ...
... passing plenty of autumnal colour along the way ...
At the viewpoint we were both blown away by the views. Whilst we couldn't see right down the lake, the colours of the trees against the blue of the sky were amazing ... there was just so much depth to the planting, it seemed to stretch away for ever ...
The trees were just majestic and looked even more colourful when reflected in the lake ...
Looking back away from the lake was just as good ...
Whilst there were mature trees of all kinds in abundance, we did come across the odd new shoots, really zinging out with fresh growth amongst the backdrop of darker autumn colours ...
We carried on along the other side of the lake, heading for the grotto where we could look right back across the lake to see the Temple of Apollo on the top of the hill ...
Heading further towards grotto was like walking through a set of shark's jaws ...
The way in to the grotto makes it look like the kind of place that fairies would live ... all covered in moss and ferns, with the entrance hidden amongst the greenery and the rocks ...
Once inside it is pretty fascinating, with statues, engravings, fountains and a floor embedded with pebbles, so pretty uneven ...
One of the best bits for me though had to be the view back across the lake to the Palladian Bridge, both from within the grotto itself ...
... and from just the other side as you emerge from the darkness ...
Looking back at the grotto from the other side it is just as well camouflaged and blends in really well with the landscape ...
Once past the grotto and back onto the main path we came to the Gothic Cottage ...
... where we had more fabulous views back across the lake to the Temple of Flora, the Palladian Bridge and St Peter's Church ...
There were some good views to be had through the leaded windows inside the cottage too ...
Our next stop was to be The Pantheon, but not before I have to bore you with yet more photos of the sheer beauty of the landscape and the colours of autumn reflected in the lake ...
The Pantheon was pretty much our last stop ...

... before we started to head back ...
... past the cascade and waterwheel ...
... with views of the obelisk on the hill back across the lake ...
The rain could hold off no more ...
... so we made our way as swiftly as we could, past St Peter's Church ...
... and back into the warmth of The Spread Eagle to dry off, thaw out and partake of welcome refreshments before making our way back up the footpath to where we'd started ...

It was starting to get dark and the twinkly lights were all lit up to show us the way. There would definitely have to be a return visit at some point to look round the house 😀

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Thanks for taking time to comment on my blog. I love to hear what people think about what Martin and I have been up to.