A walk through the parkland at Charlecote near Stratford-upon-Avon
Take a stroll through this beautiful ‘Capability’ Brown-inspired landscape at any time of year, along mown grassy paths that are suitable for big-wheeled buggies. Shakespeare's Avon and the lake offer plenty of wildlife-spotting opportunities along the way.
A pleasant circular walk suitable for all the family
Our walk timings are based on a gentle amble and allow plenty of time to see our fallow deer and Jacob sheep, and there are lovely views of the house in its riverside setting. Bring your binoculars and enjoy our wildlife. Charlecote’s parkland is open 7 days a week. Please note that part of the walk follows our dog-walking route (on short leads, plenty of dog-waste bins provided).
The Gatehouse, Charlecote Park: SP259563
Start from the Gatehouse and walk towards the main house. The house was built in the 1550s for the first Sir Thomas Lucy. It was one of the first great Elizabethan houses and although it has undergone many changes, some of the original brickwork remains.
The coat-of-arms over the front porch commemorates the visit of Elizabeth I here on her way to Kenilworth Castle in 1572.
Turn right through the iron gates and walk between the Cedar Lawn and croquet lawn.
You'll come to the thatched summerhouse created by Mary Elizabeth Lucy in the mid-1800s for her grandchildren. Funds have been raised to restore the building and replace its contents - partly from the sale of our raffle tickets.
Walk along the path ahead of you to the left of the summerhouse along the length of the Long Border. Go through the metal gate on your left to drop down into the parkland. Will you spot the deer today?
A landscape view
This is a great space for flying a kite. There's a fallen tree to climb on and explore too. The ditch and wall on your right is called a ha-ha. It keeps the livestock out of the gardens without using a fence. This creates an uninterrupted view of the landscape from the house and garden. Children shouldn't jump off this structure, however tempting!
Walk down the gentle slope towards the river Avon. Look out for the fallen tree - ideal for climbing if you have the energy!
Charlecote's fallow deer
On the opposite side of the river is Camp Ground where Roundhead soldiers are said to have camped before the Civil War battle of Edge Hill in 1642. There is no public access to this area as it is used as a safe haven for the deer particularly when their fawns are born. We have hares living in this part of the parkland too. Why not bring your binoculars for a closer view.
Turn away from the house and follow the mown path along the river bank and round the edge of the park. Walk towards the waterfall.
Wildlife on the river
This waterfall or cascade acts as a dam to maintain the water level of the lake. The river habitat is a haven for wildlife – from a heron poised motionless on the riverbank to a flash of blue kingfisher – it's always worth pausing to see what's around. In the past the lake was used as a fish pond to provide fresh food for the house. Our livestock roam freely but will move gently away when you approach and pose no danger.
Follow the mown path by the side of the lake for the short walk. Alternatively, bear left at the head of the lake to follow the Hill Park walk (an additional 20 minutes). The mown paths are easy to follow but there are no waymarkers, so do check your map. You'll rejoin the short walk at point 7, half-way along the lake.
The Hill Park walk crosses the stream over the bridge by the boundary fence and includes a stunning view back across the field to St Peter's church in Hampton Lucy. Traditionally, one of the Lucy family sons would have the living here as vicar.
To continue the short walk, stay on the mown path away from the lake towards St Leonard's church. To take the long walk carry on along the lakeside and bear right as you reach the boundary fence, continuing to follow the mown path towards St Leonard's church. You rejoin the short walk at the churchyard.
St Leonard's church was rebuilt in 1862 with the help of the Lucy family. Please note the gate into the churchyard is one way. It does not allow re-entry into the park. There has been a deer herd in the park since the mid 1400s. The Jacob sheep were brought into the park from Portugal in 1756 by George Lucy - the first flock of spotted sheep to be brought into England. The traditional oak fencing you see all around keeps the deer within the parkland, the varying lengths of timber make it impossible for them to judge the height to jump out.
With your back to the church, follow the mown path down the avenue of trees back towards the Gatehouse (point 9 on your map). There are toilets signposted to the left of the Gatehouse.
The Tudor Gatehouse
The Gatehouse is the best example of Tudor architecture at Charlecote. Most of the brick and stonework is more than 400 years old. It was built for show rather than defence though. The clock is Victorian and you'll hear it striking during your walk. In the past the chimes encouraged the estate workers to arrive at work on time.
The Gatehouse, Charlecote Park: SP259563
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