Wow - we are getting behind with writing up our trips. For example Access-Out-There first went to the National Trust’s Stowe one hot day in June 2016 with friends Morag and Andy. We strolled around the lakes at a leisurely pace. Realising there was a lot more to see we went back again later in the year on a crisp clear sunny November day with Sue and John. On this day we did a far more ambitious and far reaching walk around the grounds. As a result there was a little duplication of the routes. In the photos and the film you will be able to see the difference of the hazy hot sunny summer’s day and the clear bright cold sunny winter’s day. We have not yet visited the Stowe House itself which is not managed by the National Trust property.
Stowe is signposted with brown signs from Buckingham. A long straight road goes off from the A422 Brackley road in the outskirts of Buckingham itself. Ahead of you as you drive up this road, you can see the Corinthian arch. Turning off to the right you are directed to the parking where you will find many blue badge parking spots if you require one. From here a wide stony path takes you down to the National Trust entry point and in to Stowe Gardens. Actually there is still quite a long way to walk, past the visitor centre down the Bellgate Drive to the gardens. The estate dates back to the 16th century and many of the owners as well as landscapers including “Capability” Brown have had a hand in the wonderful garden design.
The 500m trek down to the gardens is a wide tree lined path. There are mobility buggies running between the visitor centre and the gardens which can be used to help if the walk is too far. It is also possible to book buggies to be used to go around the extensive grounds. For further detail on accessibility of Stowe you can find an excellent page on the National Trust website https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe/features/supporting-the-community-at-stowe .
On our first visit in the height of summer we planned to do a figure of eight walk around the lakes. Having taken in the spectacular view of the house across the Octagon Lake we set off to walk around the Eleven Acre Lake, crossing between the two lakes near the Cascade and the Artificial Ruins. The paths were good, not too stony although due to the heavy rain earlier in the week there were a few areas where orangey brown muddy puddles had to be navigated. However, the day was beautiful and there were great views around an on the lakes so a little mud didn’t cause any anxiety!
Three quarters of the way around the Eleven Acre Lake we found the Temple of Venus, the first of many temples we were to find positioned around the landscape. From there we completed our circumnavigation of the Eleven Acre Lake, and proceeded to go clockwise around the Octagon Lake, crossing the Wooden Bridge before arriving at the impressive Palladian Bridge.
The Gothic Temple could be seen from the Palladian Bridge, up on the hill, but we decided to leave that more arduous and adventurous trek to another day. Instead we crossed the bridge and took a detour along a wooded path to see the Chinese House before completing our figure of eight round the lakes and heading back to the visitor centre to check out the catering facilities at the New Inn.
Our second visit, on an equally bright and sunny, but colder and breezier November day, and this time with Access-Out-There stalwarts John and Sue, found us striking out across the Palladian Bridge and going up the hill to the Gothic Temple. Whereas the figure of eight around the lakes had been a relatively easy flat terrain walk, this would be a real trek with some long gradients to go up and down. Initially we walked by the Octagon Lake again but this time via the Pebble Alcove after which we headed across the grass towards the Palladian Bridge.
We crossed the bridge and worked up the track towards the Gothic Temple. This path was a long upward climb on a path which was stony enough for Titania to prefer to go up the grass verge beside the path. There were several sheep in the field around us, but we didn’t stop for a chat. Beyond the temple an easier path took us downhill slightly into a wooded area.
We passed some Saxon Deities to the left of the path and then climbed the hill again on Lord Cobham’s Walk towards a tall column with Lord Cobham perched on top. Passing this Pillar the path went straight and mainly flat for about five hundred metres until we came to the Grecian Valley. From this point we found various Greek style statues dotted throughout the woodland walk. However, in The Circle of the Dancing Faun there were plinths without statues which were apparently being restored. (On another visit some time later we did discover these beautifully restored delightful figures so we have included some pictures from this more recent trip.)
At the head of the valley we found a large Temple of Concord and Victory. From here we went downhill to the Elysian Fields and then via a grotto which was down some steep steps and therefore not for Richard and Titania. Beyond this there were a few more temples which we encountered through the woodland walk including the Temple of British Worthies. We finally emerged back at the Wooden Bridge.
A muddy walk around the Eleven Acre Lake and we were ready to go and find The New Inn which was beckoning us to refuel after the exertions of our trek.
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Richard & Di
29 October 2018