We are very lucky to have some wonderful National Trust properties and gardens on our doorstep and although we have had a lengthy bout of illnesses lately, we have still managed to make the most of our membership this month.
Stowe Gardens are our favourite and both times, we have visited, the girls have been given a challenge to make our visit even more exciting. The first was to find a white, a pink and a yellow flower, and then on Wednesday we did sensing spring, where the girls were given a brown paper bag each to fill it with things they found on their walk.
They also do numerous events throughout the year including an Easter egg hunt and Mothers day and Fathers day craft sessions. You can also learn about the different seasons and the myths and monsters behind the design of Stowe’s elaborate temples, if you enjoy a bit of history.
With 250 acres of gardens to walk around and 40 historic temples and monuments to explore, this is somewhere we can come repeatedly without the fear of getting bored. The beautiful scenery also makes for great practice for budding photographers like me and I let the girls carry a pair of binoculars each so they don’t feel left out.
Be warned that this place is vast and the driveway down to the gardens alone is a 10-20 minute walk, depending on whether you have little ones with you. However, you can hitch a lift with a buggy if you feel it is too much for little legs. We tend to walk there and get a lift back, which always makes a fun end to the day.
Don’t forget to check out the model of the grounds at the entrance before you walk, here you can plan your route or just marvel at the vast scale of this beautiful place. The first time we went, we were there for three hours, but after looking at the model I realised we had only covered a quarter of the area available to us.
There is a cafe at the entrance/exit where you can stop and have a drink and cake to rest your weary legs before your trip home. However, it is quite expensive, and therefore I suggest taking a picnic into the gardens if you need a more substantial meal. There is also a gift shop packed full of lovely items if you fancy treating someone special.
Make sure you also grab yourself a free map before you enter and if you’re with kids be certain to visit the secret garden (Lamport garden) before they get too tired, with its relaxing ponds and rugged waterfall. A few weeks back the ground here was covered with pure white snowdrops, but this week they have been replaced by purple periwinkle.
There are not only many different types of flowers and plants to spot, but also plenty of wildlife. The Comma, Tortoiseshell and Brimstone butterflies are already fluttering around the gardens. We saw a couple of very timid squirrels running up the trees and the lakes were alive with geese, swans and ducks. We were even lucky enough to spot an American coot and a great crested grebe.
Overall, Stowe gardens are an amazing place for anyone who enjoys the great outdoors. Whether you’re a keen walker, lover of wildlife or just fancy a picnic with your toddler in a safe environment, Stowe has it all. The sheer size also means that the £8.50 for an adult and £4.25 for a child (children under five are free) makes it a reasonably cheap day out, if you are planning to be there for the whole day.