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Stourhead - walks in the wider estate

LOCALITY: Stourton, Wiltshire
DISTANCE: 2 miles (3.22 km)
FACILITIES: There & back, Parking, Toilets, Cafe

GRADIENT: A few ups & downs
TERRAIN: Medium
OS MAP: Shepton Mallet & Mendip Hills East

Walk description:

From the A303, follow the brown tourist signs (B3092) to Stourhead House and Gardens. Postcode for Sat Nav users is BA12 6QD.

The car park is right by the visitor centre and there is plenty of parking spaces. The terrain in the car park is gravel and shouldn't pose any issues for any type of buggy, pushchair or wheelchair.

Once you have gone through the visitor centre you will be in a small garden with benches and information boards on the various plants and trees in the estate. The path here is tarmac. You will now need to follow the path and descend towards the Public House and the entrance to the gardens (even though this route doesn't go into the gardens you will still pass the entrance). Please remember that you will need to come back up this hill, so for those using a wheelchair, an abled bodied champion might be a good idea!

When you get to the Public House walk towards the main road and head left. You are now walking on a quiet country lane. You will walk past the entrance to the gardens on your right and a church on your left. You now be embarking on a gentle descent.

A Rock Arch will be in front of you. The Stourhead Gardens will be on your right. Once you have gone under the Arch you will see a turning to the right sign posted to Alfreds Tower. You will start to walk downhill and the path is now compacted stone. You will see a lake to your left.

The path is now larger compacted stone and starts to ascend and you will come to a cattle grid and gate. Go through the gate or over the grid and you will now be in open grassland. The path is now compacted stone and again the path is ascending.

The path is a bit bumpy and from time to time we came across logs in the road which only protruded slightly and didn't cause us any issues with an all terrain buggy. I believe these are used to stop stones slipping down the hill.

You will see a path on the right, sign posted to the tower and just after that Beech Cottage. This is where you turn around and head back to the visitor centre.

We did actually explore a bit further along the path, but the terrain became grass and then woodland and dried/wet mud in the forest - just depends how adventurous you feel!


Additional notes:

The parking is free and there are designated disabled spaces. If you are disabled and wish to cut out the first part of the walk above, there are more spaces at the Public House (Eagle Inn) at the bottom of the hill. Please note that they ask for a donation of 50 pence to park here. The walks around the wider estate are free. You will only have to pay an entrance fee if you wish to look around the house and inner gardens - check the National Trust site for current admission rate and opening times. By the car park there is a shop to browse around and a cafe for refreshments.

There is an information centre with maps of the estate for additional guidance. Be warned that we took one of these maps to try some of the walks and they are not entirely accurate!

We spotted stacks of wildlife, birds, ducks and sheep.

I would suggest that this walk is fine for all terrain buggies. Wheelchair users would need to read the description above and make their own decision. I don't imagine that a tramper would have an issue and certainly an all terrain wheelchair would be fine, however I would not like to comment on all other types of wheelchairs.

There is also the option to park at King Alfreds Tower and walk along the 18th Century Terrace ride. There are 2 car parks by the tower and this is an ideal place to have a picnic. The terrain is mainly grass and we didn't have any problems with our all terrain buggy. The visitor centre will have a map, or you can simply get there by heading North on the B3092 past the main entrance to the House and Gardens, take the next left into Stourton Lane, then take the next left into Tower Road. Continue on this road until you reach the car parks.

For more information on Stourhead House and Gardens please go to the National Trust web-site.


28/04/2009 | Walk posted by Marie Houlden

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