Cambridgeshire’s largest stately home is one of the county’s biggest draws. This working estate spans 3,000 acres, with a magnificent mansion, sprawling parkland, formal gardens and a rare-breeds farm.
There’s a vast amount to experience at Wimpole Hall – on first visit, it can take a good hour to simply stroll around the hall’s front garden and take in its mighty façade. Inside, there are sitting rooms, servant quarters and bedrooms galore. Highlights include a library with more than 6,000 books, and a dramatic drawing room that welcomed Queen Victoria in 1843. Don’t forget to look up at the ceilings – they’re incredibly ornate.
Behind the house, the Walled Garden features a bountiful orchard of plums, apricots, quince and more, plus a kitchen garden which grows 50 types of tomato that are showcased at the annual Tomato Festival (Sep). Much of this produce appears on the menu in Wimpole Hall’s café. Over at Home Farm, you can meet Longhorn cattle and white Bagot goats, and kids can pet the rabbits, have a go at milking on artificial udders or ride in a horse and carriage. Even the shops at Wimpole have a scenic setting – you’ll find the gift shop and garden shop in the 19th-century stable block.
The rest of the grounds are big enough to give you blisters as you explore the acres of parkland. Dogs are welcome and there’s a map by the stables with suggested routes, like the two-mile Folly Walk that leads to a striking Gothic structure. The network of cycle paths makes it easier to cover more ground, and the National Trust’s suggested routes range from the 1½-mile South Avenue Trail to the three-mile Victoria Drive woodland track and the four-mile Mare Way Challenge.
Entry costs to the Wimpole estate depend on which bits you want to experience – there’s a fee to enter the car park and mansion, plus an extra cost to visit the farm. Cyclists and ramblers without a car can enter the estate via the public path from Arrington village – look for the signs next to the stone gates, across the road from the bus stop.