Time for a summer stroll with the National Trust

During the summer months, National Trust gardens and parks are filled with unmissable colour, scent and blissful views – making them the perfect destination for a summer stroll to soak up the sunshine.

From discovering secret gardens and wandering through citrus groves to meandering along riverside walks and ambling past tranquil cascades, a gentle walk is sure to awaken the senses and refresh the mind.

Here are the National Trust’s top ten places for a beautiful summer stroll, with some special events too:

Cliveden, Buckinghamshire
In this characterful, Grade 1 listed garden, admire the celebrated parterre - beautifully restored with colourful bedding, summer floral displays, distinctive topiary and an outstanding sculpture collection. The famous parterre was laid out in 1855 by John Fleming and his colourful planting schemes set a precedent for gardens the world over. The sculpture collection is evident throughout the garden and includes Thomas Waldo Story’s impressive Fountain of Love at the end of the Grand Avenue. Other features not to miss are the octagonal temple, perched on the cliff edge and built by Giacomo Leoni in 1735, the pavilion built to commemorate the battle of Blenheim, and an amphitheatre where the first recital of “Rule Britannia” was played. New for 2011 is the ‘lost’ maze that disappeared for over 80 years and has been re-created using over 1,000 two metre high yew trees.

Summer evening walk and supper, 21-22 June 6.30pm – 9pm  

An exclusive out of hours guided walk through the summer colour of Cliveden's gardens, followed by a two-course supper in the orangery.

Adult £25.

Booking is essential, please call 01628 605069.       


Dunster Castle, Somerset

Dunster is an ancient castle, with terraced gardens and sub-tropical plants, sited on the top of a wooded hill with extensive views over Exmoor and the Bristol Channel. There is so much to explore on the garden's slopes, with the riverside garden, the Mediterranean-styled terrace, and over 1,000 trees.

Enjoy summer walks in the surrounding parkland, including the Mill Walk that follows the bubbling River Avill all the way to the secluded Lovers’ Bridge – with blue hydrangeas and a small collection of foxglove trees. From the seat here, enjoy views across parkland on one side and the lush, tropical planting of the garden on the other, with gunnera, bamboo, tree ferns and a handkerchief tree.

Lemon growing has been a big part of Dunster's gardening tradition for at least 250 years and citrus fruits still grow today along the sunny South Terrace, including oranges, lemons and grapefruits.

It's a steep climb to the top of the garden, but one full of rewards. The octagonal summerhouse glories in bird's-eye views of the castle below with rolling hills and the coast beyond. The oval lawn here is a welcome flat space to relax on after the toil up the hill; bring a rug, lie back and admire the deep, encircling herbaceous borders.

Guided garden tours, 22 June, 6 & 20 July, 3, 17 & 31 August 2pm – 3.30pm
Join one of our experienced team of gardeners for an insight into the evolution of Dunster Castle's gardens, from past to present.           
Normal admission charges apply, plus £3 per person for the tour.

Booking is advisable, please call 01643 821314.      


Fountains Abbey & Studley Royal Water Garden, North Yorkshire
What better way to enjoy a warm summer’s stroll than by cool water in this World Heritage Site. Studley Royal Water Garden is one of the best surviving examples of a Georgian water garden, with elegant ornamental lakes, canals, temples and cascades providing a succession of dramatic vistas and a spectacular sense of tranquillity. The Gothic-style Octagon Tower can be reached on foot in dramatic style by plunging into the twisting serpentine tunnel, to emerge by the tower which sits on a rocky outcrop. From here, it's a meander along the top of the valley through beeches, yews and Scots pine to the Temple of Fame.

End a summer’s stroll with the ultimate ‘wow’ factor of the garden, at the Surprise View. The sudden, unforgettable panorama of the far-off abbey ruins from this Gothic alcove was designed to cause a sharp intake of breath

Deer walk, 7 August & 18 August 2pm – 4pm

Come and spot the 500 red, fallow and sika deer that live in the magnificent medieval deer park.                         
Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges.

Booking is not required for this event.

For more information please call 01765 608888.      


Hidcote, Gloucestershire
Cradled in the Cotswolds with stunning views over the Vale of Evesham, a stroll in these gardens is sure to make a lasting impression. One of the most inventive and influential gardens of the 20th-century, Hidcote sets the trend for dividing a garden into ‘rooms’ in an Arts and Crafts design. Full of sublime contrasts, this garden is fiery and red at one turn and calm and white at the next – where avenues lead into small pockets of old roses, rare shrubs, trees and unusual plant species from all over the world. If a stroll through all these unique rooms isn’t enough, visitors can also have a game of croquet or tennis here too.

Summer picnic week, 20-26 June 5pm – 9pm

Bring along a picnic and enjoy a summer evening stroll around this dramatic picturesque garden, which will remain open well into the evening for.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges.

Booking is not required for this event.

For more information please call 01386-438333.      


Ightham Mote, Kent

Ightham Mote’s 14-acre garden nestles in a sunken valley and surrounds the beautiful medieval moated manor house. The cottage-style gardens at Ightham are the not to be missed in summer - with long borders of traditional flowers such as sweet williams, campanulas and pinks. There are also more formal areas with shrubs, rhododendrons and exotic trees. The north lake and woodland garden, with ornamental pond and cascade, has large trees to walk and sit amongst with pleasurable views of the house - showing off its romantic setting. The orchard, enclosed garden, memorial garden and vegetable garden all contribute to the garden’s sense of tranquillity for which it is famed. There are free garden tours available.

Summer’s walk and supper, 11 June & 2 July 6.30pm – 10pm  

Enjoy a summer’s evening walk in the Kentish countryside surrounding Ightham Mote, followed by a two-course buffet supper in the Mote Restaurant. A perfect way to spend a summer’s evening.          

All tickets £17.50.

Booking is essential, please call 01732 811314.


Nostell Priory and Parkland, West Yorkshire      

The extensive landscape gardens and park leads down to a lake where there are attractive waterside walks and plantings of flowering trees and shrubs, including azaleas and magnolias and massed rhododendrons in flower. There is also a fine summerhouse and attractive Gothic arch, plus opportunities to feed the ducks, picnic in the meadow and hike out to the obelisk gate. Nearer the house, there are many beautiful varieties of scented rose in the rose garden.

Butterfly walk, 2 July 1pm – 2.30pm

Discover the range of butterflies in the park and learn how to identify them on a two mile walk with the parkland ranger.

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges.

Booking is not required for this event.
For more information please call 0777 501 2073.                              

Powis Castle, Powys

This dramatic fortress of red limestone is perched high on a rock above wide, hanging terraces, richly planted with colourful flower borders and impressive clipped yews. A world famous garden, it really is a breathtaking sight. The approach is steep but well worth the climb. The spectacular terraces with giant, yew hedges that appear to almost topple over onto the sumptuous garden below are the star of show here, but the formal gardens, aviary, woodland wilderness and views of Severn valley all add to the wow-factor.

Walk the borders - summer garden, 6 & 20 July, 3 & 17 August 11.30am – 1pm

Find out about the history of the world-famous garden and discover how the gardeners keep it looking so good, especially in the summer months. Take some ideas and inspiration home.
Normal admission charges apply, plus £3.50 per person for the tour.

Booking is not required for this event.

For more information please call 01938 551929.      


Quarry Bank Mill, Gardens and Styal Estate, Cheshire   
This restored Georgian cotton mill tells the story of ‘King Cotton’, from raw cotton to finished cloth. And the artistry continues outside in the recently restored garden, offering the change to explore the private recreation area and valley retreat of the Greg family. During the late Victorian period, annual bedding brought colour to the parterre garden and this has been reinstated, providing visitors with a sense of how the garden would have looked in the early 1900s. This secret garden contains the finest displays of rhododendron and summer blooms and has delightful vistas, with the River Bollin running through the valley.

Riverside walks, meandering paths and raised beds are some of the features that have been rediscovered, reflecting the ‘picturesque’ style of the original design. Stroll to Styal village, built by the Gregs to house the mill workers and still a thriving community, or walk through beech woods along the beautiful River Bollin.

An audio tour of the garden can be downloaded from the National Trust website: www.nationaltrust.org.uk/quarrybankmill - the perfect accompaniment to a summer stroll for all garden lovers.

Summer evening tour of the gardens, 22 June & 13 July 6pm – 8pm

Join the head gardener for a fascinating walk through this once secret garden, including an opportunity to explore the newly-acquired upper garden – the original kitchen garden site for the Greg family home.      

Adult £8.
Booking is essential, please call 01625 445845


Stourhead, Wiltshire

Water is central to the appeal of Stourhead, as the lake is the focal point of the surrounding landscape, revealed and hidden at intervals on a stroll around the estate. This lake, two classical temples, a rock bridge, waterfalls and a grotto all captivate and combine to create a memorable picture-perfect scene in this famously beautiful 18th-century landscape. In June, the gardens will be full of bright rhododendrons, in July look forward to virburnum, magnolias and philadelphus and August brings hydrangeas.

Glorious garden walk, 23 June, 21 July & 18 August 2pm – 4pm         

Join Alan, the head gardener, for a summer’s afternoon stroll. Discuss and discover more about the history and management of this world-famous landscape garden and the beautiful plants flourishing in the summer months.            

Normal admission charges apply, no additional event charges.

Booking is essential, please call 01747 841152.                                                                   


Wallington, Northumberland          

The formality of the house at Wallington is offset by the tranquil beauty of the surrounding landscape – with lawns, lakes, parkland and woodland. The unusual walled garden starts to shine in early summer, with its varied plant collection, climbers, colourful herbaceous planting and charming Edwardian conservatory. As the summer progresses, the cottage garden plants that fill the borders saturate the senses of visitors.

While the landscape is formal there is a natural feel with some lovely walks through the woodland to the wildlife hide or around ponds that are brimming with life. There is every change of spotting a red squirrel in the woods and, for a long walk, heard to the wild moor.

If a summer’s walk is rained off, seek shelter in the conservatory where the plants within are simply stunning.

Special evening garden tour, 25 June 6.30pm – 8.30pm 

Join Wallington’s expert gardener for an exclusive summer’s evening tour of the beautiful walled garden, followed by light refreshments in the conservatory. 

All tickets £10 (includes refreshments).

Booking is essential, please call 01670 773600.