On our return to Cornwall from Somerset in late spring we decided to avoid the M5 as it was the first weekend of the school half term and it would be teeming with traffic heading for Devon and Cornwall. Instead we opted for the scenic route along the Atlantic Highway, through Bideford, Barnstaple and Bude and Camelford. I had booked a stopover at the Hestercombe House and Gardens near Taunton so we could have a stretch of the legs followed by lunch before embarking on that longer route. We have seen the sign for these gardens many times on our way up and down the M5 but never visited them. Today seemed like a good time. And the weather was in our favour too which was lucky as we had to pre-book our visit.
The landscape garden was created by Coplestone Warre Bampflyde in the 1750s and offers a series of carefully composed views each designed to look like a painting and inspired by the classical views of Italy.
The Octagon Summerhouse marks the start of this walk and provides a view up the valley.
As you meander around the garden you will pass temples, lakes and waterfalls. The routes are fairly easy to navigate although there are some steep and winding ups and downs which are not suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs. An all ability-access route is in place around the Pear Pond and the formal garden.
After a very wet May everything in this area was very green.
The Gothic Alcove marks the highest point of the garden from where you can enjoy a spectacular view of the Vale of Taunton which for some reason I failed to photograph.
We enjoyed our stroll up to Sibyl’s Temple along the one way system and admired the views before making our way back down to the Pear Pond (named because of its shape I imagine rather than there being any actual pear trees) where we came across ducks and swans.
From the Mill pond we entered through the outbuildings into the Edwardian Formal Gardens, but more of that later.