My sister and her partner visited us last weekend with their very energetic puppy, Jasper. We knew we needed somewhere good to go to walk the dogs so we decided on Stowe Gardens. It’s about a 40 minute drive from us, but it’s fairly straight forward. We’d not been before, but after a lovely time there, it’s definitely somewhere where I’ll be going back to.
The gardens are the grounds of Stowe House and Stowe School and are like nothing I’ve ever seen before. There are a number of amazing and beautiful buildings, temples and statues, all linked to Greek mythology or politics. There’s even a cave and a grotto! While there are three mapped walks you can do, by following the path of vice, virtue or liberty, you can ramble about on your own as much as you like. You could easily pack a picnic and spend the day there.
We headed along the path of vice when we arrived at the gardens and followed it round until we got to Dido’s Cave. Then we headed up to Stowe House, which was closed, but still incredibly impressive from the outside. We then picked up the path of virtue and headed to the Grotto, which was incredible! I can’t imagine what it must have been like for the gardens to be your garden. Can you imagine playing in the grotto as a child?! Amazing! We then headed to the gothic temple, via the queen’s temple and picked up the path of liberty from there. We headed back to the New Inn for lunch, where Phil and I had the leek and potato soup and Diana and Adam had the risotto. They were okay, not massive portions, but that left room for cake later!
Both the dogs loved the walk we did. They were very tired by the time we got home! Dogs must be kept on the lead, as there are grazing sheep in the gardens, and there are lots of dog poo bins around the gardens, which is always helpful! We didn’t go into the shop, but according the Stowe Gardens website, they have dog treats and dog ice cream available! This is brilliant, as not all National Trust properties are as dog friendly as Stowe Gardens. We all thought that the £11 entry fee (with gift aid) was a little steep, but if you spent the day there, you’d probably consider it money well spent. However, it only costs £99 to become a member (for two people) so it wouldn’t take long for you to cover the cost of membership. This is something I’m thinking of doing, as it means you can also park for free in National Trust properties too.
The Walk: There are three different walks you can do, but you can mix them up and do as much or as little as you like.
Cost: As it’s run by the National Trust, it’s not free. It’s £11 for adults for the gardens if you’re not a member of the National Trust.
Car Park: There’s quite a decent car park at the gardens, but you have to pay £2 if you’re a non-member. It’s free for National Trust members.
Refreshments: There is a lovely little cafe, which has seating outdoors with an undercover section where dogs are welcome.
Toilets: There are toilets at the New Inn, which is the entrance to the gardens.