Historic Buckinghamshire is one of the most scenic regions of Britain. In 1963 its beautiful landscape was home to one of the largest most recognised robberies in Britain- The Great Train Robbery. In the early hours of Thursday 8th April a gang of fifteen robbers attacked a Royal Mail train heading between Glasgow and London and successfully got away with over £2.6 million, the equivalent of £46 million today.
The robbers hid out at Leatherslade Farm a now famous location in Brill, Buckinghamshire, a quaint village that lies between Bicester and Aylesbury and is home to a brewery, pubs, and is also notable as the inspiration for The Shire in The Hobbit by J.R.R. Tolkien.
However, Buckinghamshire is not only recognised for its wealth of history but also for its rich and bountiful landscape, Buckinghamshire is fertile ground for memorable garden and wildlife tours. In cooperation with the National Gardens Scheme, many public and private garden tours are available for individuals and groups.
As part of the 3,800 gardens that the National Gardens Scheme (NGS) makes available to group tours, Buckinghamshire offers some of the most spectacular public and private gardens in the country. Visitors can take advantage of pre-arranged NGS tea and cake on-site parties or chat with locals at a variety of accommodating pubs.
Many of the gardens on the NGS calendar were featured on the recent Great British Garden Revival series on BBC2, which aired on December 9th. The series featured aspects of gardening that presenters believe to be threatened. In Buckinghamshire, gardening is alive and well with many traditional and more modern type gardens. One appealing feature to garden tours in Buckinghamshire is that private gardens are available for touring.
Indeed, whole villages take pride in these special gardens that are open on pre-selected days. With so many opportunities, planning a garden tour in Buckinghamshire requires a bit of planning.
The Stowe Gardens
On of Buckinghamshire most intriguing gardens is Stowe Gardens, maintained by the National Trust and located in Buckingham. This has been a popular tourist attraction since the 18th century. New magic happens at this site every year and 2014 promises to be more exciting than ever.
A day or two at Stowe and the senses come alive. With more than 250 acres of varied landscape treasures, Stowe seems to tickle the visual, fragrant and listening senses at every turn.As soon as guests walk down the magical drive, a world of private and panoramic splendor unfolds as guests explore deeper into the 40 historic temples and monuments that add special meaning to the vibrant landscape. One cannot help but feel the history, and beauty of the natural environs that is unique to Stowe Gardens.
The gardens offer a host of activities in addition to spectacular and private trails. Geared to please the entire family, groups large and small can enjoy a day at Stowe.In early February, the gardens open at 10:0 a.m. and close around 1600. The café and parlour rooms are open during these hours. Guests are welcome to picnic on the Park and Lawn settings. Parkland settings stay open until dusk, after the café has closed.
Sounds of the Night Sky
A special treat is open to the public from February 20 -22nd. Sponsored by the Arts Council of England, the National Trust will open Stowe Gardens for the Sounds of the Night Sky festival. Contemporary artist Robert Jarvis will present a sound-based art show depicting the night sky at Stowe Gardens. This show is a first for Stowe gardens and kicks off what promises to be an exciting year in Buckingham.
Visitors to the three day celebration will be escorted down the Bell Gate Drive on foot and permitted into the gardens after dark. There, guests will enter the spectacular, new Lamport Garden, where sound imitations of moving stars will reverberate through the sky like a giant celestial music box.
Jarvis will interpret the mass, brightness and distance from Earth of each of the stars he follows through his music. This will be fascinating experience for children and adults alike. Jarvis will personally explain details of his fascinating artistic expression.
The February schedule follow one of the Stowe Gardens most memorable winter seasons. Winter walks received more traffic this season than in any past winter as the sun reflected of the glittering lakes.
Changes to the Gardens
The National Trust approves several changes every year to the gardens. This winter was an especially exciting one at Stowe. Beginning in September, important conservation work was performed at Stowe’s Octagon Lake.
The multi-step conservation effort included several phases, including:
Draining the lake.
Transfer of fish to Eleven Acre Lake.
Excavation to increase the lake’s flood capacity.
The work is in compliance with the Reservoirs Act of 1975 and will ensure that Octagon lake passes the ‘1 in 1000 years flood level standard.
The crest of the Octagon Lake dam will be raised, the culvert refurbished and the auxiliary spillway will be relocated in order to increase the capacity. Importantly, the beautiful cascade walkway between Octagon Lake and Eleven Acre Lake, which was closed for the Winter, will be reopened upon completion of the project.
In respect for potential ecological impact a number of studies were performed, including bat survey. The work must be completed before the bird nesting season commences. Stowe Gardens is a haven for all sorts of wildlife. The bird population is a special treat.
The cascade walk will be open by February. Plan your tour accordingly because Octagon Lake and Eleven Acre Lake are unique delights at Stowe Gardens.