Stowe looks like a stunning natural landscape that has been added to with temples however almost very little of it is naturally occurring! The garden was designed by the famous Capability Brown who changed everything! The result is pretty impressive to say the least.
Before you make the walk down to the gardens take the time to have a look around the Parlour Rooms at the Inn. I think quite a lot of people miss it but they’re all furnished as they would have been. NB – there are a couple of steps. It was fine to get the pushchair around but a wheelchair might struggle.
There are quite often activities that start in the visitor centre as well. Make sure you grab a map as the grounds are extensive and you don’t want to miss anything (they are so big they even have a golf course in the middle!!!)
The gardens themselves are a long walk it’s 0.8 miles from the New Inn to the house) from the car park and visitors centre. It took me about 10 minutes at a reasonable pace to get down there, add extra minutes for child pace though. There is a buggy that can take you down but I’ve always found it to be a bit sporadic. There are two footpaths you can take, the direct accessible route or the woodland path. This was a windy little path parallel to the main one but it’s a bit more interesting. It’s a wood-chip path but the pushchair was fine on it.
Once you have made your way down to the gardens you’re very quickly confronted with the grandeur of this place – there are two temples, one of lakes and the house itself right in front of you. The gardens have many different pathways so the map really will come in handy. Personal highlights include the Temple of Worthies and the grotto. There is also the new labyrinth and play area which I haven’t been to yet but looks awesome. Update – I have been there now – Check out the review here.
There is a lot of restoration work going on and over the past few years there have been a few new, undiscovered areas, re-opened. There really is so much to explore at all times of the year.
Some of the temples have benches inside them so, if it’s raining, you can hide in one of those and have your picnic. There are a few benches dotted around as well.
The house is now a private school (and a very posh one too). Did you know that Superman himself attended Stowe school? Yup, Henry Cavill was educated here. You can tour parts of the school but there is an additional fee, even for NT members. You cannot gain access to visit the house without paying the garden’s entrance fee. The tour starts with an exhibition about the house and the biggest yard sale you have ever known!
I do enjoy coming here but the size of it can be a bit off-putting. It can take a long time to the gardens and back with little legs, particularly when you have to stop and look at every sheep along the way!
The other issue I have is toilets. Obviously the gardens weren’t designed with large visitor numbers, why should they have been? It does mean that within the gardens themselves there are no plumbed toilets. They do have port-a-loos but these are impossible to use with a pushchair and additional child. Even with just you and a pushchair using the disabled toilet is unpleasant, hoping that smallest child doesn’t touch anything and that you can get out of there as quickly as possible! You can use the facilities in the house I believe, but there is so much space between things you cannot do a mad dash to the loo when someone decides they REALLY need the loo NOW.
Access around the gardens is really good, but most of the paths are quite bumpy underfoot. In fact Stowe was the first place I took all three kids to on my own. I was able to push a pushchair around one handed whilst feeding a two week old baby without completely losing control.
Entry – free for NT members. £33 for a family ticket. Blue Peter badge holders get in FREE, each child must be accompanied by a full paying adult.
Stowe House – £6.50 non-members. £4.95 NT members. Children FREE
Parking / How to get there
Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, MK18 5EQ
Parking – on-site. Free for NT members. £2 all day
At the visitor centre and Stowe House. Port-a-loos in the garden.
Cafe at the visitor centre. Small cafe at the house. Picnics very welcome throughout the gardens. If the weather is a bit pants there are some sheltered spots (inside grottos and temples) that you can have your picnic but please make sure you tidy up after yourself.
4 / 5 – We visit regularly but they really need to sort out the loos!
For all the details, including their special events, have a look at their website https://www.nationaltrust.org.uk/stowe