The Stowe series is set out around the parklands of the historic Stowe in Buckinghamshire. Stowe is a 350 year old house gardens and parklands with some interesting history attached to it. In 1989 the National Trust acquired the gardens and embarked on an ambitious restoration programme of over 40 temples and monuments, more information can be found at their website.
There is amble parking in at the recently restored New Inn at £2 a day or there are a few free spaces at a place called Chackmore. This is where I parked as there were a couple of caches leading up to the impressive Corinthian Arch at the top of the hill. There doesn’t appear to be a set route for the trail but with a bit of planning it is possible to create a circular walk with the odd detour here and there. There are 3 multi caches all starting from the New Inn visitor centre which is free to go in and use the facilities and visit the restored pub.
After working out the co-ordinates to the multi’s I then set off for our 7.5 mile walk around reading the history from the descriptions on the cache pages as I walked. We started the trail passing the impressive Corinthian Arch, through the arch it there is a clear view of the massive Stowe House.
I began by walking along queens drive through the open parkland. There were lots of sheep grazing in this area and around much of the Park so dogs are welcome but they need to be on a lead.
At the end of the drive there are a pair of impressive Boycott Pavillions built c. 1728 and named after a nearby hamlet, they are still lived in today and was once lived in by Capability Brown who also got married in the house, he was head gardener and Stowe gardens was his first major commission.
After the Boycott Pavillions, the trail headed over an old bridge over the Oxford Waters and on to he Ha-Ha, I’ve since found out that A ha-ha is a dry moat built to keep animals from roaming too close to a house. This one is said to be the longest ever built. it was restored by a group of volunteers in the early 1990’s, an account of one the volunteers makes interesting reading (link).
There is a good view of the rear of the House /School before the trail heads further out into the Parkland. Stowe was brought to the brink of ruin by the 2nd Duke and fraudster, his son took over the running but could not recoup the £1millon debt his father had racked up. Eventually Stowe was sold in 1922 after the first first world war and became a school and the restoration began to bring it back to its former glory.
The final leg of the circular tour was through open pasture land, there were some paths cut through the long grass but some caches required walking through some uncut areas. One of the caches is near the ‘Farey Oak’ which is thought to be 500 years old.
Returning back at the New Inn marked the end of the circular walk but there were still 3 more caches to find which required a little there & back walk but didn’t add too much to the overall walk. I definitely recommend this series, it is set in some absolutely beautiful parkland and slowly takes you around to the major points of interest. I use the word ‘slowly’ purposely, allow more time than normal, take your camera and picnic. Oh and some of the caches may have you looking a little while.