Stourhead

The landscaped gardens at Stourhead are a sort of pastiche Greek paradise comprising of a dammed lake surrounded by an assortment of stone structures including temples, pantheon, Palladian bridge and, for good measure, a Gothic cottage. The homage is set within a narrow valley planted with tall, exotic trees. Above the valley, there is a…

Sissinghurst in September

The old place is quiet on a hot day; the struggling borders are fading into autumn. The new Mediterranean garden perfectly evokes a dusty, desiccated island in the Aegean except there is no loud, monotonous rasp of cicadas. Even after a long drought of a summer, there is still enormous inspiration from the the planting;…

Cae Hir Gardens

The gardens at Cae Hir run up a hillside in a quiet corner of deepest mid-Wales; they are a revelation of quiet colours and varied forms with long views under a remarkable diversity of trees and through gaps in hedges and borders; and their establishment is a fascinating story of singular endeavour and creativity.

Llangrannog, West Wales

The walk from Llangrannog to Cwmtydu runs along a wild coast filled with flowering heather, peregrines and choughs. The only blot on the landscape is an incongruous dry ski slope at the Gwersyll Yr Urdd but this is filled with children enjoying the rush. The elegant peninsula of Ynys Lochtyn runs out into the grey…

Whitstable Carnival

6th August 2022 The first Saturday is August has been carnival day in Whitstable for the last 125 years. At 6pm, under a clear blue sky, the road into town from Tankerton is closed, the pavements are jammed and the procession, this year with a theme of all things piratical but with more than a…

Col d’Agnes

15th May 2022 On the route up to Port de Lers the road runs through dense woodlands to the open ground where waterfalls crash down by the road and woodland browns chase along the fringes of the beeches but never land in plain sight. In a flush by the road, a single De Prunner’s ringlet…

Château de Miglos

8th May 2022 The crumbling Château de Miglos is surrounded by equally ancient, limestone grassland rich in flowers and insects. The steepest slope, down which there is an overgrown footpath, faces west looking up the Vicdessos valley. There is a magnificent view from the small hill above the castle, including one looking south to the…

The Thieves of La Brenne

21st May 2022 The regional nature park of La Brenne is an ancient patchwork of forests, grasslands, marshes and lakes to the north of the River Creuse, and located at the heart of France. The ancient woodlands are full of butterflies and the rough grasslands hold red-backed shrikes, stonechats and corn buntings. But it is…

On the Caldon Canal

A week on the canals over the Jubilee with old friends travelling at walking pace on a 60ft barge. We travelled from Scholar Green to Leek passing along the Macclesfield Canal and onto the Trent and Mersey, up through the Harecastle Tunnel before turning left at Etruria onto the Caldon Canal, leaving Stoke and her…

Above Cassou for the last time…

25th May 2022 The steep limestone grassland above the village has provided endless riches, a fleeting Apollo perhaps the pick of the many butterflies but there was also an array of orchids and other vibrant flowers on this large patch of pelouse calcaire. With the advent of spiked speedwell it is not surprising to find…

Les Ariégeois

The people of the Ariège inhabit a wild and inaccessible corner of France; there is no escape from the narrow valleys and high mountains. But yet this is a landscape that for centuries has been subject to intensive human use. The discovery and dating of numerous charcoal pits and forges tell of a significant iron…

Le Route des Corniches

16th May 2022 Meadow clary has taken over the fields around the Eglise de Saint Martin on the small road from Luzenac to Verneaux and on up to Chateau Lordat. On the route des corniches from Lordat west to the villages of Axiat, Appy and beyond, the flora is emerging in the verges and abandoned…