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Exploring the parkland at Stowe

The Gothic Umbrello and the Wolfe Obelisk at a distance with parkland in the foreground at Stowe, Buckinghamshire.
The Gothic Umbrello and the Wolfe Obelisk at Stowe | © National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

If you’re looking to head off the beaten track and see the wider countryside, take a vigorous ramble in the park here, where more monuments wait to be explored, and see new views you won't find in the garden. Explore 1,000 acres of landscape park and deer park at Stowe free of charge.

Visiting the parkland at Stowe

The parkland is free to access to all. You're welcome to make the most of local footpaths that link up with the parkland and enjoy the views and walks any time.

Most visitors start their day through Bell Gate and head into the centre of garden bordered by the ha-ha. But to explore the vast parkland, take the grass path to the right as you approach the garden.

Enjoy your walk safely

Please keep dogs on leads and keep a safe distance from all livestock at Stowe, especially cattle.

The Oxford Bridge and Water at Stowe Landscape Gardens, Buckinghamshire, with one of the Boycott Pavilions on the horizon.
The Oxford Bridge and Water at Stowe | © National Trust Images / Rupert Truman

What can I see in the parkland at Stowe?

As in the garden it surrounds, there are extensive areas of manmade landscaping, making use of trees, hills and lakes to manipulate the views. Grand avenues, secluded woods and monuments dot the parkland with areas created by 'Capability' Brown. Hidden treasures lie within and many are easy to miss on a visit to the garden.

Lord Cobham had temples and monuments added to the parkland to ensure it served as an extension to his garden, rather than existing as a separate entity. Some of these survive today. Highlights on your journey include:

Stowe Castle

Look to your right as you walk down Bell Gate Drive and in the distance you'll spot Stowe Castle overlooking the garden. Although it looks like a grand castle on a hill, it's actually a facade which hid a small farm behind it, and is now used as a business park.

Bourbon Tower

Built in 1741, Bourbon Tower was built as a house for the estate's gamekeeper to provide a lookout point, and to control access to the garden along a former road. The tower was built to impress the French royal family on a visit in 1808. The most recent use was as a weapons store by the school.

Boycott Pavilions and Oxford Bridge

The Boycott Pavilions stand either side of the Oxford Avenue, now used as the road to the school. The western pavilion was home to 'Capability' Brown during his time at Stowe. Oxford Bridge carries the Oxford Avenue across the Oxford Water and on towards the North Front of the house. The formal entrance with its impressive welcome into the garden was used exclusively for special guests on their visits to the garden.

Conduit House

Conduit House is possibly one of the most intriguing buildings in the parkland. It was originally called Gothic Umbrello and was once within a grove of trees providing a secluded and sheltered view across the parkland. It's built over a vaulted reservoir which provided the house with fresh spring water until the 1950s.

This is where the name Conduit House comes from. It was once an at-risk building and was one of the first monuments to be restored in the 1990s.

Wolfe's Obelisk

Standing over 100 feet high, Wolfe's Obelisk serves as another eye-catcher and is difficult to miss from around the garden and parkland. It's dedicated to General Wolfe, who was the victor at Quebec in 1759 and a friend of Earl Temple. The location in the parkland means the monument is regularly subjected to high winds. Three coats of lime wash help to protect against damage.

The lost village of Lamport

As the garden grew along with the ambitions of Lord Temple, more land was needed. In much the same way that the village of Stowe had been absorbed into the garden, Lamport, on the eastern edges of the estate was next in line. It was seen as ruining the view upstream from the Palladian Bridge. Nowadays you can see ridges and furrow lines from the abandoned village’s road and buildings.

The Bourbon Tower at Stowe, Buckinghamshire, which is surrounded by mature trees and has grazing sheep in the foreground.
The Bourbon Tower at Stowe | © National Trust Images / Andrew Butler

Livestock in the parkland

An abundance of wild animals and farm livestock live within the fields. You'll probably spot sheep and cows and both have historical importance to Stowe. The family's original fortune came from the wool trade and that led to the growth of the estate. The sheep would also have provided food and helped to keep control of the grass growth. We still have sheep grazing on the estate to help maintain the historical views.

More to discover at Stowe

Once you've explored the park from the New Inn side of Stowe, return to see 'Capability' Brown's deer park. You're welcome to park at the New Inn and use all the facilities or, if you want a closer spot to park or are dropping in often, there's a small car park that can be accessed via the Silverstone Road in Dadford. The grid reference SP670377 will get you there.

A little girl is sitting on her father's shoulders with the house at Stowe, Buckinghamshire, in soft focus in the background.

Discover more at Stowe

Find out when Stowe is open, how to get here, the things to see and do and more.

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