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Things to do on the estate at Montacute House

Visitors walking their dog in the parkland with Montacute House in the background
Visitors walking through the parkland at Montacute | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

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.

Children playing on a rope swing in the parkland at Montacute House, Somerset
Child playing on a swing | © National Trust Images/James Dobson

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.

Montacute's woodland

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

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.

A view from the Prospect Tower over the estate at Montacute with trees in the foreground and a patchwork green of fields stretching to the horizon.
View over the estate from Prospect Tower at Montacute House | © National Trust Images/John Miller

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.

View of the east side of Montacute House from Cedar Lawn with sunshine hitting the house

Discover more at Montacute House

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

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