Walking the 'Palladian Way' - Barry's 129 mile fundraising walk

A gentleman wearing a suit is smiling.
Published : 21 Mar 2019 Last update : 03 Apr 2019

From Sat 23-Sat 30 March Head Gardener Barry Smith undertook a mammoth task of walking 129 miles from Stowe to Prior Park. You can still sponsor his effort to help the restoration of the gardens and park at Stowe and take a look at what happened along the way. The journey united both special places with the two historic Palladian Bridges in our care.

A fine roofed stone bridge over the lake in spring
Thank you

Counting steps

With your help Barry raised £5,595, reaching his target. You can still donate towards his walk to congratulate him and celebrate the achievement.

Looking back 

Having worked at Stowe for 38 years, Barry has seen the huge transformation that the gardens have undergone since they were gifted to the National Trust in 1989. To mark the thirtieth anniversary of this incredible restoration, Barry, along with two colleagues from National Trust Prior Park, walked 129 miles from the Palladian Bridge at Stowe to the one at Prior Park to raise money for Stowe's ongoing restoration.

Over the last 30 years, the Trust has restored gardens, conserved iconic grade I listed structures, returned statuary, repaired lakes and brought conservation to the forefront of the site. Recent projects include the return of the Circle of the Dancing Faun, stabilization of the Temple of Friendship, rebuilding of the Haha and the restoration of Lamport Garden. But there is much still to do.

A special place

Stowe has always been a part of Barry's life, from playing on the site as a boy; he was inspired by the landscape and became lucky enough to build a career here at Stowe. It's always been his aim to restore the gardens to their eighteenth-century glory and return them to their rightful place as the most important gardens in Europe and home of the landscape movement.

" Those who know me understand how much Stowe means to me and so I wanted to step up to the plate for this special anniversary year, challenge myself and get fit all at the same time. We will be walking approximately 15 miles a day, taking in some incredible scenery and historic sites. And the fishing rod will be packed too!"

The walk

Taking one step at a time, each day across the week was been carefully planned with stopping points along the way. Thanks to everyone who came along to cheer the team on or meet at them at finish line. Here's the breakdown of what 129 miles looked like:

  • Day 1 - Stowe to Aynho. 15 miles
  • Day 2 - Aynho to Woodstock. 16 miles
  • Day 3 - Woodstock to Burford 18 miles
  • Day 4 - Burford to Bibury 16 miles
  • Day 5 - Bibury to Cirencester Park 15 miles
  • Day 6 - Cirencester Park to Westonbirt 15 miles
  • Day 7 - Westonbirt to Dyrham 16 miles
  • Day 8 - Dyrham to Prior Park 12 miles

The story so far...

23 Mar 19

And, we're off.

In Barry's words - "First leg of the our walk from Stowe to Ayno via Brackley 15 miles. Great send of by the Stowe team and Stowe School Headmaster. We left Stowe through home farm then of to Woodgreen, Turweston, Brackley, Hinton-in-the-Hedges and on to Aynho. Great countryside and villages on route. Weather could not have been better for walk dry and cooling winds and underfoot conditions were mainly good. Plenty of humour along the route from the group kept spirits up. Feeling tired and my feet ache but that's normal. Thank you to the Stowe team that made it happen today and those who walked with us on the first leg."

A tall man wearing walking boots, warm fleece, and Stowe cap starts walking

24 Mar 19

One step at a time

After walking 36,957 steps the day before, Barry started day two ready with a pint in mind for the end of the the next stint. "Day two and I must admit we had some fun. Walked another 15 miles along the Oxford Canal from Aynho to North Brook and then to Tackley and on to Woodstock." The route took in water courses for scenery, which got Barry chatting about the importance of water as a feature in the design at Stowe. William Kent was the Head Gardener at Stowe in the eighteenth century and is responsible for many of the views you can still see today over the water such as at the Eleven Acre Lake.

A view across a canal with a cottage to one side and landscape along a public footpath

25 Mar 19

Amping up for another day

"Morning. Day three - walk 18 miles to Burford, this will be the most challenging day so far. Spirits are high and having fun. Feet are sore but overall the body is doing well. Thank you for all your support, I'll have a few stories to tell when I return. Have a great day." We just love the public footpath icon, spot the similarity?

A round sign stuck to a walking post shows an outline of a Palladian Bridge