Self guided walking short break, Wiltshire

Description of Self guided walking short break, Wiltshire

Wonderful walking, relaxed and serene, in two of Wiltshire’s favourite ancient landscapes, Stourhead and Longleat. There is a choice of accommodation for your two nights away, either at the Bath Arms, a stylish boutique hotel adjacent to the Longleat Estate where you will delight in sophisticated comfort and award-winning cuisine. Or stay at the 18th-century 4-star Spread Eagle, a lovely old inn with rooms on the Stourhead estate.

Enjoy

• varied, flexible, relaxed and carefully-crafted self-guided walks in two of England’s most treasured and most loved landscapes
• peace of mind knowing that routes have been thoroughly researched by us and tested by numerous walkers so you can be sure you will not get lost! We include a marked-up Ordnance Survey map in your pack with a waterproof map case
• a choice of delightful accommodation, both offering comfortable en-suite accommodation and excellent food
• comprehensive background commentaries highlighting features of special interest, natural and man-made, to provide an insight into the area’s history, culture and habitats
• the freedom to walk at your own pace, linger as long as you like over lunch, visit places of interest on the way, fully detailed in our meticulous notes
• an enhanced sense of well-being that a few days of peace, fresh air, exercise, scenic beauty and close contact with nature gives you; you will leave feeling refreshed, relaxed and restored

What to Expect

Grading of Walks:

The routes are suitable for any normally fit person, able to walk between 4 miles (6.5 km) and 8 miles (13 km) on varied terrain for up to 5 hours with a break for lunch. There is the option on both days to walk only in the morning or in the afternoon, spending part of the day visiting Stourhead's magnificent, world-famous gardens and/or magnificent Palladian mansion. On the second day, again if you prefer to combine walking with sightseeing, walk just in the morning or afternoon and spend half a day exploring Longleat. Expect some ascents and descents from time to time.

Accommodation:

Set in the quintessentially-English village of Horningsham, The Bath Arms is both stylish and quirky, relaxed and informal. Situated within Lord Bath’s magnificent Longleat Estate, here nothing is too much trouble. The food is consistently excellent, home grown where possible, or sourced within 50 miles of the estate. (The Bath Arms boasts 2 AA Rosettes for the quality of the food.) Alternatively, you could stay at the 18th-century Spread Eagle at Stourton on the famous Stourhead Estate. The setting is superb and the inn itself is full of character with stone floors, painted beams and windows looking out on to a beautiful courtyard.

Travel:

By rail: hourly trains from London Paddington to Frome (2.15 hours) with onward travel by taxi (4 miles).

By road: total mileage from central London 110 miles

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Having settled into your comfortable room and read through your walking notes, enjoy a meal in your hotel's delightful restaurant.
Day 2:There are two options today: you can walk all day (a total distance of 8 miles, 13 km) or you can elect to walk just in the morning (5 miles, 8 km) or in the afternoon (3 miles, 5 km). This enables you to combine walking with visiting the National Trust's beautiful Stourhead. The morning walk will take you to White Sheet Hill where you will enjoy wonderful views westwards over chalk downland to King Alfred's Tower. Further views extend across Blackmore Vale to the Dorset downs beyond. This is an ancient landscape rich in prehistoric monuments including an Iron Age Hillfort and a rare neolithic camp. Lunch at the Spread Eagle Inn, Stourton with its picturesque 18th-century cottages, ancient church and medieval cross. The afternoon walk takes you through arguably one of the finest landscape gardens in the world, referred to by many simply as 'Paradise'. The views are simply stunning and include numerous classical features, lakes and many splendid and unexpected vistas. In addition to the Stourhead Estate, we walk through the rolling beauty of a rich and varied Wiltshire landscape and through magnificent woodlands of exotic trees.
Day 3:Today visit Heaven's Gate, the Longleat Estate and the lovely village of Horningsham. Your route will take you through the glorious woodland and parkland of the Longleat Estate. A highlight of the landscape is the opulent and exquisite Elizabethan mansion of Longleat House set in a glorious, wooded, lakeside setting. Your first glimpse of Longleat as you gently climb Prospect Hill is unforgettable; it looks like a fairy-tale palace from a distance. Then, walking through azalea- and rhododendron-lined paths to Heaven's Gate, you will encounter a superb panorama that stretches to the distant Mendip Hills. You will further explore a little of the thousands of acres of landscaped deer park and the handsome beech woods surrounding the Marquess of Bath's home. Here there are no crowds: you will simply enjoy the wonderful setting of this magical place and you will discover that there is far more to Longleat than its famous safari park! Our afternoon route guides you around the quintessentially-English village of Horningsham, punctuated with pretty thatched cottages, also part of the Longleat Estate,

Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements
Vouchers
Accepted

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Self guided walking short break, Wiltshire

Environment

Walking is the least carbon intensive way to travel and ensures that the environmental impact of our walking vacations is kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we use a small local transport company to take our clients to and from each day’s walks.

We are mindful there must be a balance between the environmental impact of traveling and walking in the countryside with the benefits that sustainable tourism can bring to local communities and their economies. We endeavour through example and through our walking commentaries to help our clients to respect the countryside and the people who live and work there. We practise the principles of the Country Code at all times.

In our small home office we recycle stationery, ink cartridges, and printed material. We purchase only recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, etc. We turn off equipment at night, use energy-efficient bulbs and appliances and cut CO2 emissions by keeping thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting. We do not use tumble dryers nor take disposable plastic bottles to the countryside, instead promoting water bottles manufactured by companies like Sigg. We do not print brochures, instead keeping customers informed electronically via email and our website. Our bookings are paperless, and most clients remit their payments electronically via PayPal or by bank transfer.

Community

On this walking break, we use one of two small local inns, The Bath Arms, set in the village of Horningsham or The Spread Eagle in the village of Stourton. The menus use produce that is either home grown or sourced within a 50-mile radius of Longleat. The Bath Arms is family run and both inns employ staff from the local community.

On the first day’s walk of this two-day break, after spending the morning walking around White Sheet Hill, we patronise the Spread Eagle Inn in Stourton for lunch. The afternoon is spent walking on the Stourhead Estate in the company of a local guide whose expert knowledge will enhance the visitor experience. The property is owned by The National Trust who work hard to establish good working relationships with group organisers. Many of our clients are members and membership and entrance fees are used to restore and conserve heritage properties such as Stourhead while providing employment for local people.

As a walking vacation, there is time to spend only half a day at Stourhead which has a great deal to offer and it is likely that some of our clients will want to return to enjoy more of it at some future date.

On the second day, using public footpaths, we offer our clients the opportunity to enjoy a glorious day’s walking through the woodland and parkland of the Longleat Estate. Longleat has managed to sustain the environmental beauty that envelops it, far from the crowds visiting the famous safari park, and we hope they continue to do so for generations to come. In this respect we are pleased to support the estate which provides employment for hundreds of people, many of whom are local.

Landscape

We provide carefully researched and crafted walks in the special landscapes of the UK, promoting appreciation, respect and enjoyment of the countryside through informative commentaries included on every walk. These relate to history, rural life and traditions, flora and fauna, geology and literature. The ancient landscapes of Wiltshire such as those surrounding the Stourhead and Longleat estates provide ideal terrains for walking with much of historical and cultural interest.

Specific cultural references on this weekend are too numerous to list but some examples follow.

On our walk on the hills surrounding Stourhead, we encounter two Iron Age hill forts as well as numerous burial mounds. This is an opportunity to relate ancient history to the present day and to illustrate how sites such as Whitesheet Hill and Park Hill Camp have shaped the landscape.
Further topics for commentary include the 18th-century landscape gardening movement which inspired Henry Hoard II when he set out Stourhead’s gardens, damming a small stream to set his design around a large lake. References are made to the painters Claude Lorraine and Poussin who, with their utopian-type views of Italian landscapes, inspired the neoclassical landscape artists. The 18th-century writer Alexander Pope praises Stourhead in some of his poetry. In fact parts of our walk are rich in classical allusions, especially to Virgil’s Aeneid.

Of particular interest during our day on and around the Longleat Estate are the 400 hectares of parkland landscaped by the celebrated landscape artist, Capability Brown. Our clients will learn of its colourful history and the part Chipperfield played in Longleat’s inception. During the course of our visit, references will be made to features of the natural world as they are encountered.

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