Editor’s note: I am so envious of Mandy and the incredible stately homes of the UK she gets to explore, like this one. For more of her adventures, click here to visit Mandy’s index page.
This summer in the UK has been a very odd one weather-wise, so I had been hesitant to plan any day trips because I wanted some certainty of nice weather. I finally accepted that in England, the weather can always turn on a dime and I can’t let that prevent me from exploring. I did a little internet research and came across Iford Manor Gardens which fulfilled my only requirement, which was that my photographer friend and I would be able to get there via public transport from Bath.
Originally, I had planned to take the 94 bus from town but had an unfortunate hiccup when the bus driver let me know that it was a cash only situation. [Note: most bus routes in the Southwest of England are operated by First Buses which will not only accept payment by card, but will also give a discount for buying tickets within their app.]. Luckily, we quickly found an alternate route and took a train from Bath Spa Station (this could also be done from Bristol Temple Meads station) to Freshford (£3.30 roundtrip, tickets can be purchased at the station kiosk or on the trainline app). It’s a 30 minute walk from the station to Iford Manor and it is a lovely country amble, especially in the right weather.
As you walk up to the manor, it comes into view on your left and it is absolutely stunning. It is only the gardens that are open to the public (£7.50 entrance fee); the manor itself is not. The gardens are spectacularly beautiful and it is no wonder they were featured in the most recent version of The Secret Garden movie. Like many stately properties in Britain, this one has been a work in progress over the course of centuries and it’s a magical thing for me as an American to visit places with such a long history.
We were given an information booklet with a little map inside, though the gardens were laid out so intuitively that I did not reference the map at all until the end to make sure we covered everything. I think we came at the perfect time of the year; the flowers were in bloom and looked amazing! My favorite part within the gardens was the Cloisters, an addition that was built in 1914. It’s a small outdoor building with a little open court in the center surrounded by Greek-style columns. It was the perfect place to stop and contemplate the gardens. I also really enjoyed exploring the Japanese garden which had an adorable pond under some shade. I also really liked the Garden House which looks over a slope over a big swath of garden and neighboring fields. It also provided shelter to use while we got caught in a flash storm which luckily cleared in less than ten minutes.
We finished our tour with a little treat in the lovely new cafe where we had a coffee and a cannoli dessert before our journey home. There’s both indoor and outdoor seating and also a full service restaurant. The Manor hosts evening champagne tours and will soon be letting out rooms to guests. For more information, check out their website here. I loved this location for a fun half-day trip; it was interesting, I got to walk a lot, and it was really easy to get to even without a car. I can’t wait to go back!
Thank you to Iford Manor for hosting us for this incredible day trip.
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