This weekend, the National Trust are opening many of their doors around the country for free to the general public. If you read this in time and you’re interested in visiting a property, a recommend you have a read through this link and their terms and also, you need to print out a voucher to hand in upon your arrival.
I tried to participate in this a year ago but on the Sunday, when I went to Bath to meet up with a friend for the day… Upon my arrival though, it started hailstoning and the skies were anything but clear! That put paid to our plans to spend a little time outdoors and so, we ended exploring some of the city’s interiors (meaning an art gallery, a cafe, pub and restaurant).
So, this weekend has been desired for a very long time and, with clear skies and sunshine forecast for Saturday (today), I arranged plans with another friend to achieve the day I was hoping for a year ago.
My main aim was to take advantage of the offer to visit one of the National Trust’s sites without having to pay an entrance fee. Stourhead in Wiltshire was at the top of my list but, that’s a ninety-minute drive from where I am and the idea of driving that far on a Saturday morning seemed unappealing. Bath was the stronger proposition – I had to drive in to Bristol to collect my friend, which gave me a nice halfway point and then, as we both enjoy walking and hiking, we were able to take the route along the Bath Skyline, after exploring the landscape garden of Prior Park.
Prior Park Landscape is famous for its Palladian Bridge; one of only four in existence around the world. There’s a similar structure at Stourhead as well. They only offer on-site car parking for disable visitors and so, I chose to park near the centre (Soutgate), meaning we had to walk a good two miles to get to the park, including a long stretch up a very steep road (I won’t dwell on the fact that the first bridge we tried to cross was closed and then, that I lead us up the wrong climb, away from the garden).
Set deep within a valley, it’s a tranquil place for peace and relaxation. What I love most about places like this is that they’re only a stone’s throw from a major city (Ashton Court in Bristol is another favourite for this reason). There is one path near the entrance that borders a busy road but, away from that, you have a large body of water and many trees to enjoy. Not to mention the bridge itself and the large mansion (which I do not believe is accessible for the public).
That photo (above) was taken using my camera but I added a ‘filter’ at my friend’s suggestion by holding a pair of sunglasses over the lens – it actually kind of helps to reduce the sun’s glare!
I could go on showing you some of the other images I took of the bridge from several different angles. Now though, I’m going to show you something you might not have been expecting…
I really liked this wooden wall outside the toilets. I do wonder what glue they used to bond the end-grain to the board but the effect works well. It’s quite “rustic”, in the sense that the finished surface is anything but level.
I don’t often have a lot of success when it comes to photographing animals. Squirrels often run away but swans are becoming a pet hate of the outdoors… My previous attempt captured a swan trying to drown itself (well, it wasn’t coming back up for air) and, earlier today, this on-shore bird was playing coy as well. I settled for the photo below but, no sooner had I put my camera away, it spread its wings in a beautiful display of all its majestic glory!
There’s a grotto near the north-eastern point of the garden that contains a stone-arch structure and protection for an old tree.
What really caught my eye was the wooden puzzle in the opposite corner! 😀
We probably spent a good couple of hours in the park and also had part of our lunch, as the time was close enough and we were hungry. In order to join the Skyline walk, we noticed on a map (given to us by a National Trust employee) that there was a path linking from this place near Rainbow Wood. I tried looking online last night but couldn’t find anything… As far as I can see, that grants you free access in to the garden!
I’ve done the Skyline walk on my own in the past and, even on a sunny day like today, I decided not to take many new photos of things I’d already seen. My friend (who is a committee member of our walking group) has suggested I put this forward as a walk for the summer months. Which would mean leading a group of people on my own… I’m quite confident in knowing this route now and I’d rather lead a walk on a route like this than somewhere with many hills and steep climbs.
Towards the end of the six-mile route and next door to the golf course, there is a sham castle; built by Ralph Allen; former owner of Prior Park. There’s an interesting story behind this and it’s worth reading about on the Wikipedia link in this paragraph.
Before long, we were heading back down towards the centre (following the canal) where we decided to look for Bath Abbey before heading home. I’d not been here before and, although their ‘suggested donation’ is sign-posted on the entrance, we were both put off by the presence of desk-bound women on the other side. I’ve been to Gloucester Cathedral and I’ve also been to Wells Cathedral but I’ve not seen anything as intimidating.
There were a couple of mimes (is that the correct term?) performing outside provided more of an interest. As we walked around some more, we eventually stumbled upon a small shop selling hand-made wooden items. Their chopping boards (although not end-grain in construction) were beat mine hands-down for pricing while some of the boxes they had on display were outstanding, yet barely £100 each.
I had a great day out with a good friend who also shared with me an enjoyable Easter Sunday/birthday, three-weeks ago now. That’s what friends are for. 🙂 I did take a load more photos from the day and, if you would like to see those, please click here.
Thank you for reading. Hope you’re having a good weekend. 🙂
- Day 5 – Wells, United Kingdom (travelpod.com)