A Repton Ramble at Attingham Park in Shropshire

Walking trail

This gentle circular trail walks in the footsteps of landscape designer, Humphry Repton who was the pre-eminent landscape gardener of his time in creating and renovating landscape gardens (he was involved in some 400 properties during his career). Repton was commissioned by the 2nd Lord Berwick in 1797 to redesign the grounds at Attingham and bring them in line with the fashion of the day. The trail highlights the significant views drawn by Repton in his watercolours and offers the chance to explore his designs, both created and unrealised, within the landscape.

A page from Attingham's Red Book showing the two driveways to Attingham Hall

Map

Attingham Repton Ramble map

Start:

Attingham Park 52.685370, -2.667155

1

From the car park make your way to Visitor Reception to show cards or purchase admission. Head through the Stables Courtyard bearing right following signs to the Mansion and Deer Park Walks. Head round the side of the Mansion and as you approach the front of the house you will see before you the vision Repton had for Attingham. Repton sought to create harmonious landscapes, which joined house and garden. A grand house needed to be supported by a grand landscape and each must re-enforce the grandeur of the other.

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Attingham Park Mansion Tearoom

2

Head along the path at the side of the Mansion taking the path on the right towards the white pillar gates near the entrance drive. At the gates turn to take a look back towards the house. Repton did not believe that you needed a huge estate to create grandeur, instead he relied on a series of improvements that would give the illusion of great size. Repton lengthened the drive which approached from Shrewsbury (the one you used today) thus creating an impression of distance, masking the view by planting trees to screen distant views and conceal unsightly landscape features so that the first glimpse of the house was visible when it looked its grandest. As guests came up the drive they were also provided with a view towards the Wrekin hill. Repton had difficulty making this approach more interesting as the land is flat and the trees planted around 20 years earlier were still young. He suggested to vary the line of the drive to show the house at a better angle and to enliven the landscape with scattered groups of deer or cattle.

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View of white pillar gates Attingham

3

From the white gates facing the Mansion, head to your right and follow the line of the ha-ha. Repton used a ha-ha to give an illusion of endless landscape and hid distant boundary walls and roads with shrub and tree plantings so that the size of the actual estate was difficult to determine. Removing boundaries and lengthening drives were not the only methods Repton used to make the park look bigger, he was also quite keen to create gaps or windows in the boundary allowing views to be borrowed from the countryside. Similar tree planting were used on farmland and countryside visible in the distance to make the park appear larger than in fact it was.

The hah-ha at Attingham

4

Follow the arc of the ha-ha returning to the path down to the right (away from the Mansion) which heads down towards the Deer Park. Pause on the Deer Park bridge. The Deer Park land was purchased just prior to Repton’s commission and may have been the stimulus to engage him in making plans at Attingham. By the time Repton visited, the river had adopted a meandering line with a number of channels that were liable to flooding. Improvements to the river were one of the main focuses to Repton’s design. By proposing straightening the course of the river and using a weir to control flooding, Repton created an elegant body of water within the park. By controlling the flow of the Tern, Repton was able to create a lake – visible now only by the marshy grasses growing along its original outline.

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View of Deer Park bridge Attingham Park

5

Cross both bridges and head through the black gates into the Deer Park, going uphill slightly, but quickly turning to your right following the path parallel to the river (marked Deer Park Walk). Walk along this path for approximately 150 metres and at the fork in the path take the right hand path near some old trees.

Path divides on Repton Ramble at Attingham

6

Turn to your right here at admire the view back towards the Mansion. Repton had a definite vision of the approach to Attingham Park from London and the east. He proposed that a new (second) carriage drive sweep into the park from the east passing through the extensive Deer Park and providing a stunning view over the river Tern, which Repton had proposed to be widened to look like a lake, to the house beyond. The new entrance involved the construction of a bridge to form a crossing over the Tern. Construction began in 1798 with additional work being undertaken in 1800 and 1807. The original bridge was constructed of wood and ironwork. Where you are standing is approximately where that bridge would have been situated.

View of the Mansion at site of proposed Repton bridge at Attingham

7

Continue along the path adjacent to the river until you reach the corner of the Deer Park and head through the black gate which leads to a path down to a stone bridge over the Tern. Please note: this gate is locked when conditions on the river bank are unsafe due to flooding. The bridge carries the A5 road over the river. Proceed under the bridge and turn to see one of the most impressive views proposed by Repton. The original bridge was one track wide but the original stone features were kept and replaced when it was widened in 1932. Repton proposed pedestrian access on either side of the bridge which wasn’t realised, however the Attingham Ranger team did put in the pedestrian path you have used in 2011. As you look up at the bridge facing the house notice the smiling gargoyle welcoming you as you entered the estate and as you leave, the sad gargoyle as you would have left.

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View of footpath to Tern Bridge at Attingham

8

Walk back under the bridge and head back on yourself towards the black gates you passed through. Through the gates turn right along the grass footpath.

Footpath divides on Repton Ramble at Attingham

9

After approximately 200 metres you will see a lodge on your right. This building is currently a private residence so please do not approach. Work commenced on a new turnpike or lodge house at the newly proposed entrance to Attingham from the east. Repton’s concept involved making the main road appear to belong to the estate and he proposed building two lodge houses either side of the main Atcham road, this idea was not adopted and only one lodge was built and is standing before you at Repton’s east entrance today.

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Watercolour design for two lodges on east drive by Repton at Attingham

10

Continue from the lodge taking the path through the gate into the wooded area, walking through the woods with the main A5 road on your right hand side. Head through a second gate back into the Deer Park. Look out for deer in the deer sanctuary on your left.

Gate on Repton Ramble at Attingham

11

After a short walk cross a wooden footbridge and enter a second wooded area through a gate. In this area you will see remains of some red brick buildings which date from the second world war when part sof the estate were used as an airbase. Continue on heading through a second gate and up into the Deer Park over a footbridge.

View of footbridge on Repton Ramble at Attingham

12

After passing through the deer sanctuary on either side of a grass footpath join a concrete path and follow this through the deer sanctuary. At a junction turn left continuing along the concrete path. When the concrete path ends continue on the grass path ahead towards the trees.

Eight fallow deer grazing in the deer park at Attingham Park

13

After a short walk the grass path forks. Take the left fork towards the woods to join a gravel path and continue on along this. Emerge from the woods and take the path to the left back towards the Mansion that you should be able to see ahead of you.

14

Continue along the path to stop at a large oak tree. This oak is known today as The Repton Oak, however tree surveys show the oak to be around 650 years old, so older than Repton’s time at Attingham. One thing we can imagine is Repton standing at the oak surveying the landscape and contemplating its place and significance in his improvements.

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The 'Repton Oak' at Attingham

15

Head back down towards the Mansion via the Deer Park bridge. You can continue your visit to Attingham - Repton's original Red Book is on display inside the Mansion until September 2018, explore the estate further, or return to the hub of the Stables Courtyard to finish your walk.

End:

Attingham Park 52.685370, -2.667155

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A Repton Ramble at Attingham Park in Shropshire

Terrain

Walking on a mixture of grass, concrete and woodland paths, this route is on a combination of level terrain and a few short inclines in the Deer Park. Paths may be uneven in places and may not be suitable for buggies or mobility scooters in muddy conditions. The footpath tot he tern Bridge is locked when river levels have caused flooding. Please enquire before setting out.

A Repton Ramble at Attingham Park in Shropshire

Contact us

A Repton Ramble at Attingham Park in Shropshire

How to get here

Address
Attingham Park Atcham Shrewsbury SY4 4TP
By train

Shrewsbury, 5 miles (8km)

By road

The main entrance to Attingham Park is on the B43850 in the village of Atcham, 4 miles (6.4km) south of Shrewsbury

By foot

0.5 miles (0.8km) along drive from main gates

By bus

Please check routes with Arriva bus services, then 0.5 miles (0.8km) walk along drive from main gates

A Repton Ramble at Attingham Park in Shropshire

Facilities and access

  • Toilets are in the Stables Courtyard, Bothy and Brewhouse
  • Carriage House café and Mansion tea-room serve a range of food and drink
  • Car parking is free (disabled bays available)
  • Mobility scooters are available to borrow (first come, first served)
  • Normal admission charges to the park apply