Walk number two and picnic - Stourhead King Alfred's Tower walk (2) - 5.5 miles (8.9km) - OS Map: Landranger 183, Explorer 142 with Claudine.
Mainly through woodland areas, along gravel, grass and natural forest tracks. There are steep climbs at the beginning of the walk and the paths can be boggy in places, so sturdy footwear is advisable. You're free to walk your dog along this route, but please do keep them under control at all times for wildlife conservation and due to cattle grazing in Six Wells valley. Please remember to bring your lunch for the picnic.
How to get here:
By bike: Wiltshire Cycle Way runs through estate
By train: Gillingham 6½ miles; Bruton 7 miles
By car: At Stourton, off B3092, 3 miles north-west of Mere (A303), 8 miles south of Frome (A361)
By bus: Frome Minibuses 82 Warminster to Mere; First 58/158 Shaftesbury to Wincanton (passing Gillingham train station), alight Zeals, 1¼ mile
Follow the blue waymarkers on this circular walk of historic interest, through beautiful woodlands to King Alfred's Tower. The route then continues to St. Peter's Pump, through Six Wells valley and past Stourhead House.
From the Visitor Reception building in the main car park take the path that zigzags down towards the Spread Eagle Inn. Walk through the car park and courtyard. Watching out for traffic, turn left and walk down the road, passing St Peters Church on your left. Continue along the road until just beyond the Rock Arch, where you turn right.
Continue walking with Turners Paddock lake and the waterwheel on your left. Keep following the track beside the cattle grid, past Beech Cottage on your right, and over a stile. Go a little further on the main track. Where it forks, take the right hand track and go through a gate. Follow the track along the top of the field. The ruins of Tucking Mill and cottages are hidden in the trees on your left.
Go over the stile at the gate and through the mixed conifer woods, keeping on the main track, going straight ahead at any junctions. After a steep ascent of approximately ¾ mile the track will come out onto park of the Terrace ride, where visitors in the 18th century used to take carriage rides around the estate. Turn left and walk for approximately ½ mile until you reach King Alfreds Tower.
Retrace your steps along the Terrace (following the blue waymarkers) to where the woodland area on your right ends. Turn right down the forestry track on the edge of the woodland.
When the path bears right, take a left fork and descend to the stile leading into Six Wells Valley. On your left is St. Peters Pump, which marks the source of the River Stour, from which Stourhead takes its name.
Turn right and walk down the valley until the medieval fish ponds come into sight and then walk diagonally uphill to the left, keeping the medieval fish ponds on your right. Upon reaching a gate, go through it and head up the woodland track, then through a second gate and walk left up a short slope. You will now be at the foot of the Obelisk, which was erected in 1746 and rebuilt in 1839. This stands in Great Oar Meadow.
With your back to the obelisk inscription, turn left and cut diagonally across the Great Oar Meadow to join the track (18th-century carriage ride). Turn right and head to the front of Stourhead House. Follow the drive, turning right just before you reach the clock arch to walk through the walled garden. Cross the bridge over the road and follow the zigzag path back up to the Visitor Reception car park
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