Things to do on the estate at Montacute House
There’s plenty to explore beyond the boundaries of Montacute House and garden, with three waymarked trails through the Tudor parkland, round Ladies’ Walk and up to St Michael’s Tower. The walks range from 1.8km to 3.3km and take in uneven pathways and sometimes steeper hills.
Parkland around Montacute House
The beauty of the parkland at Montacute stems from the dozens of mature veteran trees that stand in impressive glory all year. These include sweet chestnut, London plane and oak where bats, birds, and many different insects live.
The highlight is the magnificent Lime Avenue that runs through the centre of the parkland.
Find the swings
For the young, or young at heart, you will find swings on some of these trees. We do move them around to keep you on your toes and to preserve the trees.
Wildlife in Montacute's parkland
Cows and sheep are often present in the parkland to help manage the areas of short grass, known as sward, for invertebrates. Fallen dead wood is often left to lie where it is to provide habitat for saprophytic beetles.
The woodland to the north is called Mill Copse and the Welhams brook slowly weaves its way through the trees. It was once a site of a medieval mill, and the footings and mill pond remain today.
If you're quiet, it is here that you may see dippers, a bird usually associated with fast-moving rivers or streams.
The ponds and Hornhay Orchard
As the Welhams brook breaks out of the woodland you can view two flood attenuation ponds, which were created to help ‘slow the flow’ and are the home of many dragonfly species.
Hornhay Orchard, on the north-west side of the house and garden, is home to mature fruit trees and some newly planted cider-apple trees that were part of the Tidnor collection.
Ladies’ Walk is a mature woodland dominated by beech trees that offers scenic views of Montacute village.
In spring, you can listen to bird song and admire carpets of bluebells. During the summer, one of the viewpoint benches is ideal for quiet contemplation. Then, in the autumn and winter months, the woodland becomes a rusty brown as the beech leaves turn and fall.
Old Deer Park
You can return via the Old Deer Park - once a medieval enclosure part of the abbey grounds. Sheep often graze the pasture and the stream running through it is a withy bed, where the willows were once managed for basket making.
Explore St Michael's Hill
Montacute village got its name from this hill, which was originally called ‘Mons Acutus’ ('sharp hill' in Latin). The Normans built a motte-and-bailey castle here, with a chapel dedicated to St Michael.
All that remains today are the footings, on which the Phelips family built a tower in the 18th century, but the name lingers on.
Walk to the monument
From the village recreation ground the path follows a gradual climb through the grassland to the woodland edge at the base of the monument. From here the path rises sharply to the summit where the reward is 360° views across the Somerset countryside.
The woodland at St Michael's Hill
The woodland around the base of the hill is dominated by sweet chestnut and ash. The plateau between the woodland and the summit is managed for wildflowers and occasionally grazed by cattle or sheep.
Montacute House is a two pawprint rated place. Enjoy seasonal walks with your dog throughout the year and find out how you can make the most of your visit.
Explore the garden of Montacute House throughout the seasons. See the yew trees, affectionately known as ‘wibbly wobbly’ hedges, or take a few moments of tranquillity in the Orangery.
Explore the ground floor of the house at Montacute in Somerset, home of the rare Tournai Tapestry.
From its golden exterior to the longest Long Gallery in Britain, Montacute House is a beacon of Elizabethan flamboyance and there’s so much for groups to see.
Whether it’s a quick bite to eat or some retail therapy you’re looking for, Montacute House is sure to have something for you.
Plan a visit to one of the special countryside places in our care and discover the benefits of being in the great outdoors. Pack your walking boots and get ready to explore woodlands, valleys and rivers.
There's a wealth of outdoor places from tors and gorges to woodlands and streams to visit in Somerset. Climb hills to see far-reaching views or relax and watch the children play in the fresh air.