The 'Palladian way' fundraising walk

Tom Boden and Alice Palfrey, General Manager and Head Gardener Tom Boden and Alice Palfrey General Manager and Head Gardener
A woman and a man in walking gear look at a map in front of Prior Park's Palladian Bridge

To help raise funds for the upcoming restoration of Prior Park Landscape Garden's 18th-century dams, we walked 123 miles in a sponsored 'Palladian way' walk.

Last year, we announced that Prior Park would undergo a crucial and extensive £2.2million restoration project on its eighteenth-century dams; the next step in our ongoing restoration work. Time and damage caused by the invasive American signal crayfish has taken its toll on these mid-1700s structures and the dams are in need of major and expert attention. 

As General Manager and Head Gardener of Prior Park, we both feel tremendously passionate about doing ‘our bit’ to support the garden’s ongoing restoration. We’re both fortunate enough to spend a lot of time in the garden and on a daily basis, we see what an important place Prior Park is for so many different people.

" Prior Park is a sanctuary within the city of Bath which provides a tranquil space for quiet contemplation. Its winding woodland paths, cascading water and spectacular views make it a garden full of surprise and wonder. In creator Ralph Allen’s time, this garden was sympathetically created by consulting ‘the genius of the place’ and we continue to do so as we restore this 18th-century masterpiece for future generations. "

Looking after special places is at the heart of the National Trust’s work, so we understand how vital the dams project is for the future of Prior Park. With £2.1 million already in place for the restoration, we felt it was important to do everything we could to raise the money needed to complete the work and ensure the project is a success.

The 'Palladian Way' walk will start from the bridge at Stowe, Buckinghamshire
The Palladian Bridge at Stowe surrounded my green and golden trees. The architecture is reflected in the water of the lake below.
The 'Palladian Way' walk will start from the bridge at Stowe, Buckinghamshire

Our expedition took place in March 2019 and began at Stowe Landscape Garden in Buckinghamshire. Over the course of a week, we walked all the way back to Prior Park in Bath. The starting point of our walk was significant, like Prior Park, Stowe is also home to one of the only four Palladian Bridges of this style in the world. Alongside being a fundraising effort, the walk was also a celebration of Prior Park’s most iconic feature and the concept of the eighteenth-century English landscape garden. 

" When brainstorming ideas of how we might support the dams project, this walk seemed like the ideal challenge. Not only will it give us a fantastic opportunity to see more of the landscapes looked after by the National Trust, but it also connects our garden with another important eighteenth-century landscape garden, cared for by the trust. We'll also have the chance to raise awareness for the project as we go!"

Our route took us through some spectacular parts of the English countryside. We walked past Churchill's birthplace at Blenheim, along parts of the Monarch's Way and through the rolling Cotswold hills. 

The walk will take Alice and Tom through Bibury in the Cotswolds
Arlington Row in Bibury, Gloucestershire. A row of seventeenth-century Cotswold stone cottages.
The walk will take Alice and Tom through Bibury in the Cotswolds

Yet whilst the route may sound idyllic, the walk was a challenging physical feat and we battled blisters and aching limbs to make it back to Bath within a week. We'd be delighted if you could sponsor us and help us restore Prior Park back to its 18th-century former glory. 

Alice and Tom read a map on Prior Park's Palladian Bridge

Can you help?

If you would like to support the dams project, you can sponsor Alice and Tom's 'Palladian Way' walk on their JustGiving page.