English Gardens - Stourhead
Autumn in Stourhead
Stourhead is a National Trust property, not too far from Stonehenge and Bath, in the South West of the UK. The house has landscape gardens designed in the 1740s, they are amongst the earliest examples in the UK, and are influenced by Italian scenes from The Grand Tour era, when wealthy aristocrats toured Italy and classical sites. The central feature is a large lake, which you can walk around and admire the views.This place is all about country walks and tearooms.
It's due to the Grand Tour that there is a Palladian bridge, a Grotto, and numerous half-baked temples, even a Pantheon (of pygmy proportions, and rather pathetic compared to the real thing!)
The main walk is a tour of the lake, which is pleasant. If you are visiting the UK, you could consider National Trust membership, as it will pay for itself very quickly if you visit a few NT properties - I'm a member myself, but think they are way too expensive to visit.
Just a few miles down the road, south of Stourhead is the picturesque town of Mere. Charles II hid here during some royal difficulties, and this would be a good place to stay, though hopefully you will not be hiding in a secret room!
There are a few B+B and hotel options in some interesting old buildings from the 15th -16th century.
The West Country is one of the most scenic areas of the UK. If you are based in the Bath area with a car you could see a lot of great places over a two-day period -
Stourhead House looks grand enough, and has a Palladian theme. I must admit I found it tedious in the extreme. It's one of those stately homes where oil paintings take the place of wallpaper, and almost every inch of wallspace has been covered by some third-rate classical scene involving the pastoral, and nymphs. Maybe there is a great painting there somewhere, I couldn't find it. The 16th century(?) cabinet that used to house the organ is straight out of the Vatican (and not in a good way) and makes for an uber-kitsch home keyboard!
I'm no expert on photography - but I'm very pleased with my current camera, a Fujifilm S 5800. It was just such a bargain, at £80, and I think the image quality and colour balance is great for such a cheap camera. The SD card can be upgraded for very little extra, although it's worth buying this on the internet as camera shops can be very expensive. If you are not at all techie this is a great choice, and a USB cable is supplied too, making downloading to your computer very easy.
Close to Stourhead is a folly called Alfred's Tower. It commemorates the stand taken by King Alfred against the Danes over 1,000 years ago. It stands 160 ft high, and from the top you can see three counties - Dorset, Wiltshire and Somerset.
Although I'm not good with heights, I didn't find this too challenging, although there are a lot of steps. Admission is £2.80