Shakespeare, Lakes and Grand Gardens itinerary

Where literature and landscape meet

The Trentham Estate - Staffordshire (Italian Garden) (6) 264X168 The Trentham Estate, Staffordshire (Italian Garden)

Enjoy this two-day tour around the Heart of England where you’ll visit award-winning gardens, with sweeping lakes and parkland. Learn all about Shakespeare, including a tour of Anne Hathaway’s family home set in a glorious English cottage garden.

Download the Shakespeare, Lakes and Grand Gardens itinerary (PDF, 1,547 KB)


Day 1: Trentham, Staffordshire ● Stratford-upon-Avon

Actors performing on the stage of the RSC Royal Shakespeare Theatre - Stratford-upon-Avon (c) VisitEngland VE13489 389X280 On stage at RSC Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon

Your tour begins at one of the country’s top visitor attractions, the 725-acre Trentham Estate, just outside Stoke-on-Trent affectionately known as ‘The Potteries’. There’s plenty to do at Trentham, you’ll find award-winning gardens, a shopping village, a garden centre, Monkey Forest and Aerial Extreme, a tree-based high ropes adventure course.

Located in The Trentham Estate is one of England’s must-see gardens. Explore this stunning garden with a mile long ‘Capability’ Brown designed lake, Italian Garden, woodland and maze. From spring to autumn get close to nature and take a barefoot walk ­– it’s positively encouraged. Look carefully and you may even see some fairies. Don’t forget to bring your camera as this garden is a photographer’s dream throughout the year, with picture-perfect views at every turn.

It’s a one and a half hour drive south to the historic town of Stratford-upon-Avon, synonymous with William Shakespeare. Start your afternoon with a visit to Shakespeare’s Birthplace, the house where the world’s most famous playwright was born and grew up. Learn all about Shakespeare and follow in the footsteps of other well-known visitors including Charles Dickens, John Keats, Walter Scott and Thomas Hardy. Take a well-earned break in the café overlooking the garden before a pleasant 30-minute walk to the hamlet of Shottery, for our next stop at Anne Hathaway’s Cottage and Gardens. See where the young Shakespeare courted his future bride at her picturesque family home. It’s a traditional thatched cottage with many original features set in glorious gardens full of colour.

Visit during the spring and summer months and explore the butterfly trail or enjoy the amazing scent of the sweet peas, at their best in August. Return to the town of Stratford-upon-Avon for an evening meal at one of the many great places to eat

For great places to stay in Stratford-upon-Avon:

Day 2: Charlecote Park, near Stratford-upon-Avon ● Erasmus Dawin House, Lichfield

Charlecote Park - Warwickshire (c)National Trust Images, John Millar 389X280 Charlecote Park, Warwickshire

After a hearty English breakfast set off on a 15-minute drive to our next place of interest, Charlecote Park, a Victorian home set in landscaped deer park in a tranquil riverside setting. Take time to visit the house with treasures from the early works of Shakespeare to an impressive Beckford table. Follow the processional footsteps of Queen Elizabeth I from park to court through the historic Tudor Gatehouse. The ‘parterre’ formal gardens loved by Queen Elizabeth I are laid out in a symmetrical pattern on a gravel walkway, brimming with colour throughout the year. Take a stroll through the ‘Capability’ Brown inspired parkland and find the perfect spot to enjoy a picnic with views across the river Avon. But be aware, you may have to share some with the Jacob sheep and fallow deer who live here.

Take a short 45-minute drive north to the historic city of Lichfield and location of Erasmus Darwin House. Located by the cathedral, this was the home of Dr Erasmus Darwin, scientist, doctor, inventor, poet, botanist and grandfather of Charles Darwin. Enter through the maturing herb garden at the rear, formally divided into Mrs. Darwin’s culinary herb garden and Dr Darwin’s medicinal herb garden. Learn all about Erasmus Darwin, one of the greatest polymaths of the 18th century and Staffordshire’s forgotten hero. “A fool you know, is a man who never tried an experiment in his life”.

Just around the corner you’ll find Lichfield Cathedral, the only medieval English cathedral with three spires. Take time to explore and learn about the long history of this important cathedral. Enjoy an afternoon tea or early supper in the unique 13th century walled garden, at Chapters ‘the Café in the Close’.

Find out more about activities and accommodation in Warwick

Must-see local events

The Trentham Estate - Staffordshire (Fairy Trail) (3) 389x280 The Trentham Estate, Staffordshire (Fairy Trail)

Royal Shakespeare Theatre, Stratford-upon-Avon: performances throughout the year by the Royal Shakespeare Company.

BBC Gardeners’ World Live, undercover event at Birmingham’s NEC: mid-June. The BBC’s Gardeners’ World Live, featuring the RHS Flower Show Birmingham is a celebration of summer gardening, with award-winning show gardens, dazzling plant displays and advice from top experts. 

Lichfield Food Festival, two-day event across Lichfield City: end August. A celebration of all things gastronomic including a Food Festival Market.

Travel Fact File

Recommended transportCar and some walking
Top travel distance134 miles/216 km
Approximate travel time2 hr 20 min plus walking time
Nearest airportManchester 
East Midlands
Nearest main rail stationStoke-on-Trent
Visitor informationReal-time local information 
Stoke-on-Trent Tourist Information Centre  
Stratford-upon-Avon Visitor Information Centre
Lichfield Tourist Information Centre


Want to see more fabulous gardens?

Continue your journey with the Bath and Cotswolds secret gardens itinerary

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