There has been one National Trust property on my to-do list for what seems like forever – Stourhead in Wiltshire.
On our recent visit to Longleat we drove past the familiar brown sign and I made a promise that this would be the year we visited and we did just that in the Easter holidays.
Silly me didn’t put the satnav on as I just assumed that as I had seen the signpost near Warminster that it would be close by, but actually we panicked a little as the signs disappear for a while and we thought we had missed our turning.
Stourhead is a huge 1,072-hectare estate at the source of the River Stour, in Wiltshire.
We were very lucky to visit on one of the only sunny days in the Easter holiday, having left home in fog, and picked up our Cadbury Easter Egg trail booklets, heading into the estate to solve the clues.
Despite the rain over the last few weeks, the paths were clear and mud free which was a real blessing although there was a strange haze hanging over the area.
We had to follow a map to find the clues to follow the ‘song of spring’ to discover who has helped with the arrival of spring, which led down to the stunning waters edge.
The River Stour is fed from greensand springs at Stourhead where it forms a series of stunning artificial lakes. The river actually flows south from here, very close to our house and out to sea at Christchurch, so it was really interesting to see where the river starts. The egg hunt was over pretty quickly, so the kids collected their prize and then we got to explore the grounds at our leisure.
The gardens at Stourhead are described as “Perhaps the most beautiful and magical of all of the great landscape gardens, Stourhead presents an English 18th-century view of Arcadian paradise” and I can see why, even when they are not quite in bloom.
There is something unique to explore and find around every corner which kept the kids interested, despite it being the longest walk we have down around a National Trust property.
The kids were keen to visit the Temple of Apollo which was situated over the opposite side of the lake.
The pathway to the temple led us passed a historic rock arch which was perfect to explore.
Past an old working water wheel, set against a backdrop complete with woodland and waterfall.
Along a path by the lake where we could get up close and personal to the resident ducks and swans.
The Temple of Apollo overlooks the magnificent gardens and offers a beautiful view back across the lake.
Inside are several statues which all relate back to the the story the kids were finding for their Easter Egg hunt. Isaac was especially interested and was full of questions for the staff that were inside.
A little farther along the path is a Gothic Cottage where the kids got to have a sit down on some cute wooden chairs.
Then it was time to explore the fascinating ice houses which date back to the 17th century and were a means of providing ice all year round.
We spent a good few hours exploring everything that Stourhead has to offer but still missed quite a bit, so are planning on returning to see the gardens in full bloom and again in autumn to see the flaming autumnal colours of the trees reflected in the magnificent lake, which are apparently breathtaking.
There are also holiday cottages available to rent on site, a large NT shop and a cafe serving food, drinks and ice cream and of course plenty of picnic areas to relax in, so Stourhead is perfect for a day out for any age.
Oh, and it’s a photographers dream location!!
Have you visited Stourhead before?