A lazy 7 miles from The Pilgrims gets you to Bruton, an interesting and old little town which is now home to Hauser & Wirth’s modern art gallery (Zurich, New York, Mayfair and…Bruton?) The gallery is well worth a look – exhibitions change constantly, the buildings are stunning and Piet Oudolf’s garden is fabulous (he’s the High Line in New York man). Lunch, for instance, can be had at the gallery or in Bruton itself At The Chapel.
A further 8 miles gets you to Stourhead, a National Trust house and gardens – well, estate really. The house is interesting, especially the Cabinet Room, but it is the gardens that most guests go for. The stroll round the lakes, taking in the grotto and the temple etc takes a relaxed hour and a bit, and the café back at the ticket office does good tea and cake.
Although Stourhead is probably at its most glorious when the Rhododendrons are out (in March/April/May?) or in the Autumn when the leaves turn (and Alan Power the head gardener describes it to Eddie Mair and therefore the world on Radio 4) we go there several times a year and it is always wonderful. Even in the mist and gloom of December, as in the picture, taken at Alfred’s Tower, a couple of miles from the house but still on the estate.
And if you could still use some bracing fresh air Whitesheet Hill is a nearby Neolithic site and Iron Age hill fort which you can walk to, (or drive to its own car park) where the air comes in hundredweight sacks, the sky is as wide as you like and you can look back over the Stourhead estate, with Alf’s Tower on the skyline.
Back to The Pilgrims for a sharpener, a soak and dinner, in no particular order. Technically you’ve slipped over the border into Wiltshire but we won’t tell if you don’t.