Autumn walks

Montacute House from the parkland in golden autumn sunshine

There is lots to explore beyond the boundaries of Montacute House and Garden.

Parkland

It’s hard not to be drawn out into the parkland by the sweeping ornamental avenue of lime trees, which marks the original approach to the house.

There are acres of parkland to explore, including Mill Copse where Welhams Brook flows; see if you can find the remains of a water mill and plunge pool in the wooded area bordering the stream. The water is now managed, with the help of ‘leaky dams’, riffles and backwaters, to flow slowly and so help prevent flooding – it also helps create a habitat for aquatic flora and fauna.

A 'leaky dam' to slow the flow
Branches in Welham Brook create a 'leaky dam' to slow the flow
A 'leaky dam' to slow the flow

In the parkland look out for veteran trees, including oaks and sweet chestnuts that were already old when Montacute House was built; you may spot a Little owl, thrush or woodpecker. For the young and the young at heart, seek out the tree swings in the parkland – there’s nothing like a swing to get the blood flowing.

Click here for an accessible one-mile route around the parkland. 

Autumn in the parkland
Veteran trees carpet the parkland with leaves in soft browns and russets
Autumn in the parkland

Ladies’ Walk

Some of the best views of the village of Montacute are from Ladies’ Walk, a delightful path that runs up though the beech woods that circle the village. The colours are magnificent and there are some of the best views of the village from this path. Pause on one of the benches that looks down on the church and see if you can spot the buildings that were once part of the mediaeval Abbey.

There’s a footpath that leads you back down through the village past the dovecote and fishpond – look back to spot the Gothic arch marking the spring and wellhead. 

 

St Michael's Hill

Montacute village got its name from this hill, originally called ‘Mons Acutus’ (which means ‘sharp hill’ in Latin). The Normans built a motte-and-bailey castle on top, with a chapel dedicated to St Michael; all that now remains are the footings, on which the Phelips family built a tower in the 18th century, but the name lingers on.

Circling round the south-eastern side along Hedge Cock Lane, you’ll be walking along a probable Iron Age ditch, that may also be a Roman boundary. Pause to admire the work of the National Trust’s volunteer dry stone wallers – it’s a job for those with patience, but their work will be there for many years to come!

It’s a steep pull to the summit but the reward is magnificent views in all directions across Somerset. Climb Prospect Tower’s spiral staircase to see even further.   

Click here for a more strenuous four-mile walk that goes through the park, along Ladies' Walk and up St Michael’s Hill.

The tower at the top of St Michael's Hill
Prospect Tower stands out against an evening sky of pink and blue
The tower at the top of St Michael's Hill
The Elizabethan mansion and partial view of one of the pavilions at Montacute House, Somerset

Visiting Montacute House: what you need to know

We're looking forward to welcoming you back. If you're booking a visit, this article tells you everything you need to know about what's open, how to book and what to expect. We've made some changes to our usual offer, to help keep everyone safe.