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Blenheim or Chatsworth House if we can only choose one?

Level Contributor
185 posts
Blenheim or Chatsworth House if we can only choose one?

Help us decide which!

Am considering a couple days in the Cotswolds

& a few in Northern Wales. Had considered

doing Blenheim on the way to the Cotswolds.

But just realized I suppose we could instead

head from Stansted Airport to Chatsworth...

and then over to Conwy (north Wales)...

then, on down a bit...

then over & back through the Cotswolds!

Crazy? Is Chatsworth the better one to include

if we can only include one? Just curious.

Thanks so much! :-)

Manchester, United...
Level Contributor
7,315 posts
82 reviews
11. Re: Blenheim or Chatsworth House if we can only choose one?

Re your garden queries:

Chatsworth has a large garden area with several water features - the cascade (a long series of shallow steps with water running down) a jet-type fountain etc, interesting plants in different areas - perhaps semi-formal overall in style. Beyond the garden there's an extensive park with a river running through, rolling countryside.

Blenheim (going further back in my memory here so apologies if things have changed) mainly formal garden parterre with sculpted fountains. Park has a lake, more gentle scenery.

Hidcote (National Trust) one of the 1920/1930s trend-setting gardens composed of a series of "rooms" - areas separated by large, high hedges. Some areas are colour themed others quite different. Fairly level. House not open. Gardens can feel crowded at times.

Bodnant (National Trust) is on a valley side, leading down to the river - there are some steeper slopes near the water (you enter near the top). One famous feature is the laburnum tunnel and it is also well known for rhododendrons and azaleas, so probably at it's peak in April - June. There is plenty of interest at other times. House not open. Gets busy - not too bad in the garden, but car parking gets choked at the busiest times.

I haven't visited Warwick Castle in recent times so can't comment. To summarise - Hidcote & Bodnant are both interesting gardens, different in style, both worth visiting if you're interested in gardens, but if the weather's bad there's nothing much indoors beyond the shop & tearoom.

If you're going to north Wales I'd also recommend another National Trust property, Plas Newydd on Anglesey if you have the time. The setting is lovely, overlooking the Menai Strait with views to Snowdonia. The gardens aren't big, again there's a woodland walk running parallel to the water, trees, rhododendrons etc. The house isn't huge like Chatsworth or Blenheim, but is interesting. If you're at all interested in Rex Whistler there's a famous mural in the dining room and they've got a display of sketches, letters, set designs etc by him.

Finally another National Trust place, perhaps a little out of the way for you is Powis Castle - mid-Wales not far from the border. Spectacular setting, red stone on the edge of the hill, above ancient yews & a wonderful garden. The house isn't in the league of Chatwsorth or Blenheim, but the gardens are worth the visit.


A general point is that most National Trust properties are closed at least one day a week in the open season, so watch this doesn't rule out your visit.

Sorry to be so long-winded!

Level Contributor
185 posts
12. Re: Blenheim or Chatsworth House if we can only choose one?


so seeing this posting, now...

I guess it means if we're already including Snowdownia for a couple of days, then,

the Cotswolds might provide a bit more 'variety' overall to the landscape we'll be seeing?

So, maybe we should hold off on the Peak District

this time around & include next time w/a trip

further northward, as well.

Any suggestions most welcome btw,

if we would stick to the Cotswolds being first,

as far as the best way to 'come into them'

from Stansted. Wrap ourselves down towards

Woodstock & Blenheim as mentioned above to gradually

get into this area...


instead, enter in further north

more like Chipping Campden? Thanks again,

if you have the time to reply. Appreciate it! :-)

Gosford, Oxfordshire
Level Contributor
70 posts
6 reviews
13. Re: Blenheim or Chatsworth House if we can only choose one?

I agree with your latest post, go for Cotswolds - North Wales on this trip, and leave 'The North' for another time. Not because one stately home is 'better' than the other. I don't know if you've driven in the UK before but although everything seems really close together in American terms and the speed limits are higher, in practice the roads are far busier and (apart from Motorways) narrower, wigglier and hillier than you're probably used to - and navigation can be challenging. A side trip to Derbyshire doesn't seem very practical to me.

If you are interested in history, scenery, great houses and gardens there'll be plenty to keep you occupied. Between Stansted and Woodstock you could also take in Woburn Abbey for instance, and if you are staying in Woodstock I would recommend a few hours in Oxford at least. There are so many great places to visit on your route. As well as general sites such as VisitBritain, have a good look at the National Trust website, and also English Heritage and Cadw (for Wales).

Level Contributor
185 posts
14. Re: Blenheim or Chatsworth House if we can only choose one?

Thanks, RufusFrog!! Appreciate your input

& tips. Woburn Abbey sounds worthwhile & may even

hold more interest than Blenheim. I recently received a very neg. review of Blenheim...guess someone esp. thought the interior worthlesss. So,

maybe we'll just catch the grounds if it's a pretty day. Will see. Thanks again! :-) (and have decided to stick to N. Wales & Cotswolds...as noted,

except I wonder if Ludlow is as nice as the Cotswold towns...in which case maybe we are better to only do one night in the Cotswolds & 1 in Ludlow (on way

to Wales) That's my final decision to make.

Best regards! :-)

Brno, Czech Republic
Destination Expert
for Czech Republic, Slovakia, Train Travel
Level Contributor
31,318 posts
17 reviews
15. Re: Blenheim or Chatsworth House if we can only choose one?

The important thing is not to take all this advice as gospel - it is only personal opinion and everyone's tastes differ. I'm not madly keen on Prague, for example, but many would have an opposing view :)

As you may have realised, England (and the United Kingdom as a whole) has enough to keep you busy for several years - no place is 'better' than another, and you don't want to be madly rushing around from one place to another, especially if you are unfamiliar with the roads. The majority, if not all, of the towns you mention were not designed with the car in mind, and many actually actively discourage car use. Someone mentioned above that the roads are smaller and windier, and in Wales you will also have to contend with the fact that the roadsigns are written in Welsh as well. Keep it simple - stick with your original plan, and chill out!

Have a nice journey!

Gosford, Oxfordshire
Level Contributor
70 posts
6 reviews
16. Re: Blenheim or Chatsworth House if we can only choose one?

Ludlow is a lovely little town, especially if you are a foodie and are prepared to splash your cash on a michelin-starred restaurant. There is a scenic ruined castle in the town and the delightful 13th century Stokesay manor house just to the North (my tastes run more to small intimate historical properties than the overblown Blenheims and Woburns). It's also the gateway to the Shropshire hills and charming black-and-white villages.

It's just impossible to say that place 'A' is more visitworthy than place 'B'! It may be better to plan how many miles you need to do each day first (allowing for at least one visit en route to break the journey), see where that ideally leaves you in the evening and then find somewhere that appeals in the area.

You also asked specifically about the journey from Stansted. Obviously my first recommendation is to fly to Heathrow instead as it's much more convenient!

But from Stansted, if you're not in the commuter rush hours (7-9am and 4-6pm) and want to get some miles under your belt use the M11/M25/M40 motorways to get up to the Oxford area (it's longer but much faster than the cross-country routes). Thinking about it I can't really recommend a detour via Woburn unless you have plenty of time to meander (narrow roads and scenery nothing special). Depending on what time you arrive in the UK, Woodstock may be a good 1st stop as the journey can mostly be done on motorways - never underestimate the negative effects of jet lag on your driving! Wherever you go next, allow plenty of time to make stops in the Cotswold villages, Broadway is one of my favourites although it is very touristy. Roads get even narrower and twistier in Wales and are sometimes blocked by sheep so make allowances in your timings (use a site like Google maps or multimap to get a rough idea of travelling times between two points and you'll see what I mean). Best of luck with your trip!

17. Re: Blenheim or Chatsworth House if we can only choose one?

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