Explore the beautiful Ascott House and Gardens
Once part of the Rothschilds' vast Ascott Estate and now run by the National Trust, Ascott Gardens, on the borders of Bedfordshire and Buckinghamshire, are vast, sweeping classic English grounds with all manner of formal and natural plantings. The gardens (and the wonderful house, stuffed with paintings, fine furniture and oriental porcelain, that looks over it) are open to the public between March and September and cover 30 acres – so there's plenty to explore across a day. The large expanse of mown grass is interspersed with wonderful old oaks, cedars and large horse chestnuts and in spring expect the most magnificent display of daffodils. Look out for clever topiary and colourful herbaceous borders. We love the dreamy Serpentine Walk at the end of which is perhaps the garden's most famous feature, the lily pond - a large oval pond that is completely covered with lillies come the summer months. Designed to be a skating pond in winter, the thatched timber Skating Hut still stands on the south side. The Dutch garden, the Madeira Walk, the Venus garden and the topiary sundial date from circa 1880-1920 and include two fountains created by Thomas Waldo Story.