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On your doorstep: Blenheim

Many, if not most, of the readers of this magazine will have visited Blenheim, one of Britain’s most popular tourist destinations, and less than twenty miles from the Wychwoods. Famed for its palace, the lakes, architectural bridges, the cascade, acres of gardens, all the associations with Winston Churchill and famed, more recently, for the spectacular illuminated grounds before Christmas.

But there is another Blenheim, one best discovered on foot. Visitors can drive to the Combe Gate, park there and walk into the vast wooded acreage of the estate. There, away from all the crowds, they can find the hidden Blenheim, the roads and paths apparently reserved for walkers and joggers. Turn right onto the main roadway, down through some of England’s oldest oak woods and across the bridge. On the far side of the lake, stands of mature copper beech trees loom over the water. Up the slope, the Pleasure Gardens appear on the left with their maze, adventure playground and café.

Onwards in an anticlockwise direction, the road, devoid of all but estate traffic, winds past the palace, across the Vanbrugh bridge and away from all the tourists. Just a hundred yards further on, the visitor can turn left along a footpath, back into the woods and high above the lake with its views back across to the palace. Following the lakeside and on up the dry valley, the main roadway is rejoined, continuing up the climb and back to the Coombe Gate.

All that quietness, all that unspoiled nature, and it’s all on our doorstep.

June – July 2018