Our journey east continues, passing through Devon, into Sommerset. It’s an ottery theme, much to my amusement, as we pass Ottery St Mary, Otter View and advertising for Otter Ale and Otter Icecream. Surely the rivers are teaming with otties. Otherwise why the names?
Endless lush greenery paves our way. Very envious of how green England remains in summer compared to our homegrown, crisp, sunburnt offering. *sigh*
We’re heading back to a favourite spot – the stunning Stourhead estate which will be our base for the night. We discovered it last year and it remains one of the most beautiful estates we’ve visited. As a bonus, there’s a great farm shop with all manner of hard to resist local goodies. Yum.
Goodies secured, we’re free to explore the estate. We toured it (and I wrote about it) extensively last year, so this year we take a cursory tour of the manor, marvel over the magnificent library then move on to grounds to lap the lake.
Rewards are immediate with two squirrels bounding for cover within moments of arrival. Yes! 🐿️🐿️ Nothing like a good squirrel sighting to lift spirits.
Stourhead is spellbinding: every turn of the path brings a new treasure. The grounds, set over 2,650 acres have been 300 years in the making and are incredibly well maintained. But a mere few of the highlights, (below in order) are the Bristol Cross, the Temple of Apollo and the Gothic Cottage. One could spend weeks exploring here.
We’re also treated to massive rhodedendrens bushes in the last gasp of flower. The grounds are full of them, but we’re usually too late to see flowers. There are benefits to getting away early it seems.
It’s hard to pick a favourite spot on the walk around the lake, but if pressed, I’d have to pick the stone bridge. If I was a wedding photographer, this would be my setting of choice. Whilst all of Stourhead speaks to an elegance past, this spot in particular, is divinely romantic.
There’s time to tour the walled garden then head home to ponder the cruelty of war. This magnificent estate was to be the birthright of Harry, the sole son and heir of Sir Henry Hoare and his wife Alda. Harry’s life was cut tragically short by WWI, leaving the estate without an heir. It was eventually left to the National Trust in the 40s.
I can’t resist a stop in the gift shop to add to my Wrendale collection. Much amusement at seeing Squiz’s relatives still waiting for homes. Our boy meanwhile, has been on the road for years!