Posted 22nd Nov 2015
There’s nothing better on a crisp winter’s morning than venturing outdoors to explore frosty landscapes and spot winter wildlife. From spectacular landscapes and peaceful parklands to exotic colour with rich scents, the National Trust cares for some great places just waiting to be discovered during the cold winter months
Here’s a selection of the best winter wonderlands cared for by the National Trust:
Anglesey Abbey, Garden and Lode Mill, Cambridgeshire
The Winter Garden at Anglesey Abbey bursts with life at this time of year. Designed specifically with plants that give winter colour, texture and fragrance, it is a beautiful sight to be enjoyed by winter visitors. On the winding walk discover bright yellow and red dogwoods and the polished bark of the Tibetan Cherry. Enjoy the scent of winter flowering honeysuckle floating in the breeze and look out for the Himalayan Silver Grove, with their slender white trunks. There are plenty of scenic delights to discover throughout the extensive gardens, including the historic Lode Mill and magnificent statues collected by Lord Fairhaven. Just after New Year make sure you look out for the displays of thousands of snowdrops that dot over the landscape.
Thought to be one of the earliest surviving formal gardens in England, the ancient structure of Godolphin’s side garden becomes most visible during winter months. The mild climate in West Cornwall means that snowdrops and other signs of spring arrive here much earlier than in other parts of the country. See the gardening team working on the sunken lawns project, which aims to replant the borders with highly scented perennials and native plants to highlight the historic structure and encourage bees and other wildlife. The wider estate is also open all year, so why not take a walk to the top of Godolphin Hill, where you can see across to St. Michael’s Mount and St. Ives.
Make a weekend of it: Godolphin House is one of Cornwall’s most outstanding historic houses. It was built by the tin and copper mining Godolphin family in the late 15th Century and by the 17th Century it was one of the most fashionable houses in Cornwall. Today it provides atmospheric accommodation for 12 guests.
Stourhead is a beautiful, tranquil place to visit during winter. There’s plenty of fresh winter air on offer in the surroundings of this world-famous landscape garden, where a magnificent lake reflects classic temples, mystical grottos and swathes of surrounding trees. The buildings and statues in the garden are a key part of Henry Hoare II’s carefully constructed views. They form focal points around the lake, as if in a living painting. Discover the intriguing Grotto and peer through its circular opening and you’ll see the Temple of Apollo and the Temple of Flora beautifully framed by the Grotto’s volcanic rock.
Make a weekend of it: 89 Church Lawn. Set at the entrance to the garden, this pretty 18th-century holiday cottage, which sleeps seven, allows guests to enjoy the landscape garden before the crowds.
Winter is the perfect time to see this monumental garden glisten with crisp frost and mist drifting across the lakes. There are more than 250 acres of garden to explore with lakes, classical temples, winding paths and woods created by some of the greatest minds of gardening design and architecture that include Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown and William Kent. See the architectural beauty of leafless trees against the brilliance of bright blue winter skies and magical temples that tell tales of myths, legends and political rivalry.
Dinefwr Park and Castle, Carmarthenshire
From the ruined castle to deer park and woodland, there is plenty to discover in this iconic part of the Welsh countryside. There are some wonderful walking trails around the Dinefwr Estate. Whether you’re interested in wildlife, history or just want a peaceful walk with spectacular views; Dinefwr is the place for you. Discover the hundreds of oak trees that are more than 400 years old, standing proudly overlooking the National Nature Reserve.
Make a weekend of it: Take your pick from Home Farm Farmhouse, a white washed farm house with exposed beams which sleeps 12, or Penparc, originally a pair of cottages with a hipped terracotta roof with stunning views which sleeps eight.
Castle Ward, County Down
Overlooking Strangford Lough, this eccentric country home has plenty of room for recreation in the winter months, with miles of trails through woodlands and along the Lough shoreline. Visit for a chance to see a fantastic range of migrating birds and the resident seals. In the early morning, as the mist rises over Castle Ward house, Irish hares can be seen frequently playing on the classical front lawn. While on the gothic lawn, a family of pheasants are often seen probing for insects and worms with their bills. The garden, parkland and woodland are open throughout the winter months.
Make a weekend of it: The Potter’s Cottage is a quaint, single-storey stone cottage in the working farmyard near the Lough shore. With white washed walls and a cosy open fire it’s the perfect romantic hideaway for two.
Clumber Park, Nottinghamshire
The winter light reveals the stark beauty of Clumber’s landscape. This former Ducal Park is open all year and home to nearly 4,000 acres of parkland and gardens, peaceful woodlands and open spaces to explore on foot or by bike. Don’t miss a winter photo opportunity at the beautiful Clumber chapel, with its 180 foot spire and Gothic architecture; it looks lovely in the snow. Walk down Limetree Avenue and marvel at the majestic double lime trees that sparkle in the winter frost and sun.
Dunham Massey, Cheshire
The Dunham Massey winter garden is the largest of its kind in the UK. The seven-acre garden is home to over 700 different plant species and a further 1,600 shrubs providing plenty of distractions from the cold – from striking white-stemmed silver birches and bright dogwood barks to colourful berries and flowers. In February, look out for thousands of snowdrops which carpet the garden, the striking colours of the blue winter iris and swathes of early spring daffodils.
Images courtesy of National Trust: Rod Edwards, Nick Meers, Arnhel de Serra, David Norton, James Dobson, Jonathan Buckley