We returned to the follies at Painshill Park last Sunday as Daddy had missed out on seeing the Crystal Grotto.
Historically its been recognised as the finest stalactite Grotto in Europe and was officially opened this year following extensive restoration. Lady Lucinda Lambton, a crusader for England’s forgotten architectural heritage, placed the last crystal in the Grotto describing it as rare and extraordinary.
We’re looking forward to visiting Father Christmas there. Elves will guide us from the Wishing Tent to the Crystal Grotto. It will be POD’s first experience of sharing a wish with Father Christmas so it will be interesting to see what happens!
Located in Cobham, Painshill Park is Grade 1 listed and has been awarded the rare Europa Nostra Medal for its exemplary restoration. Having taken the accessible route on our last visit, this time we opted for the longer historic route.
This route took us past the Gothic Temple with its pillared arches and down to the serpentine lake. It was the most glorious of days. Much to POD’s delight there were ducks everywhere and the Five Arch Bridge looked wonderful.
Next stop was the fabulous Gothic Tower where you can climb 99 steps and enjoy views across four counties. We then enjoyed a wander through the Alpine Valley until POD decided she would walk no longer. Instead she’d lay down midst the trees having a tantrum in a way only a toddler can. Within reason too, she’d outgrown her wellies in less than a week!
POD cheered up at the beautiful Hermitage nestled in the woods. The Honourable Charles Hamilton had created Painshill Park as a romantic landscape to stimulate the senses and emotions of visitors. He had advertised for a hermit to live as a recluse for seven years in the Hermitage. Legend has it the hermit was found worse for wear in the local watering hole less than three weeks later!
Built in the 1830’s and restored in 1987, the Waterwheel is one of the largest working wheels in the UK. It was a fabulous sight, its red wheel gleaming in the sunshine. We then passed the Cascade and Mausoleum before arriving at Grotto Island and the Crystal Grotto. It almost takes your breath away with its shimmering features.
With POD on Daddy’s back, we took the route along the River Mole past the Ruined Abbey, Vineyard and Bastion. En route seeing geese, swans and more ducks. Then it was back home for a well deserved hot drink and coffee cake.