Stowe near Buckingham 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. We are regular visitors to Stowe landscape gardens and I’ll update this review with any changes each time we return. They are currently going through a massive conservation programme and there are changes happening all the time.
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 Landscape Gardens at Stowe
Getting to gardens themselves involves a fairly 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 the lakes and the house itself right in front of you. It’s hard for any review of Stowe to do justice to how grand it is! 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. We visited shortly after it opened and I wasn’t that impressed, but I think I should go back. Check out the original review of the labyrinth at Stowe 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.
A photographer’s paradise
With all these temples, grottos, bridges, lakes and spaces to choose from Stowe is an amazing place to take photographs. I’ve got so many arty shots over the years. Here are just a couple of pics that I took today on my phone to give you an idea. The ones taken using my camera are much better!
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. So was Richard Branson. 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!
There are a fair number of rooms open, and it was quite interesting to see all the names of the ex-students up on the wall and their class photos. Sadly, when I went inside the house Smallest Child was just 3 weeks old and so I didn’t get any photos. I’ll get more next time I go.
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 in mind, 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. £39 for a family ticket. Blue Peter badge holders get in FREE, each child must be accompanied by a full paying adult.
Stowe House – £7 non-members. £5.50 NT members. Children FREE
Prices correct as of Jan 2020. Please check their website for the latest prices (affiliate link)
Parking / How to get there
Buckingham, Buckinghamshire, MK18 5EQ
Parking – on-site. They are currently extending the car park. There is no longer a fee for parking.
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.
our review of STowe House and Gardens
Stowe landscape gardens are truly beautiful, they’re a brilliant place to go for a walk. There is a LOT of walking involved though, and there aren’t really any short cuts. We visit regularly, throughout the year, but they really need to sort out the loos!
Hi, I’m Vicky. My husband and I live in Aylesbury with our three children; a 10 year old son, an 8 year old son and a 3 year old daughter. I (mostly) love spending time together as a family. We visit all kinds of places and we’re quite happy to drive a fair distance for a decent day out. A few years ago I decided to set up Free Time with the Kids as a way to share our experiences of these family days out. You know, the essential information you need to know before your visit that can be surprisingly hard to find out. Where do I park? How much will it cost me to get in? Are there any discounts available? Are there loos? Can I take a picnic or get food? My aim is to be your go-to guide for all your free and cheap family days out across Bucks, Beds, Oxon, Herts & slightly beyond. I really hope you find the reviews helpful. If there’s anywhere that you’d recommend please get in touch firstname.lastname@example.org or get in touch via Facebook