Stourhead is always a popular place for visitors, but that is especially true in the autumn months when the trees put on a spectacular show and tourists flow in to see a riot of burnt oranges and yellows.
We arrived first thing, when the early morning shadows were still long and the sun hadn't quite risen high enough to dry out the dewy lawn on the banks of the lake. But this meant the lake path was still relatively quiet. It was a perfect early autumn morning, crisp but sunny with no breeze, giving the added bonus of a completely still lake that acted like a mirror, reflecting the autumn foliage perfectly.
The Pantheon is the primary feature, the temple of Apollo a close second. But as you make your way around the lake to the Pantheon, there are other surprises. Grottos and follies have been built into the landscape, hidden until you come upon them suddenly. They're peaceful places, classical style statues spout water, and carefully placed 'windows' draw the gaze across the lake. The path passes by this scene too. The Gothic Cottage with its flaming tree on the doorstep looks like something from a Grimms Brothers fairytale.
The Stourhead estate is more than a Palladian mansion with impressive landscaped gardens. It is comprised of over 1000 hectares of land, the village of Stourton, as well as farmland and woodland. These cottages, on the estate, are both lived in and rented out as holiday lets.
By mid to late October the trees are really at their best, but even when we visited almost a fortnight ago they were pretty colourful, showing signs of what is to come.
Really though, I imagine its an estate worth exploring no matter the season. I think it would be spectacular on a bright winter morning blanketed in a hoar frost.