On arrival at the carpark at Stowe we were surprised to discover that there were quite a few cars already parked and people getting out of their cars dressed in running gear as well as many dogs. It appeared that there was some sort of running event going on, with some of the runners taking their dogs with them. Alfie was quite excited to have the chance to meet other dogs, of various shapes and sizes. He may be small, but he has very little fear when meeting dogs several times his size! We kept him firmly on his lead, though. We walked to the visitor centre, which is a recently-opened building, taking in the restored New Inn which is apparently where visitors stayed around 300 years ago when Stowe was originally opened. A new part of this visitor centre includes a restaurant and a shop as well as toilets and other facilities. We were allowed to enter the gardens early, a good fifteen minutes before it was supposed to open at 10.00 a.m. Before, when you visited, the carpark was the opposite side of the gardens, near the school playing fields, but when they began restoration of Stowe they wanted to make your visit as near to how it would have been in the early days of it being opened and you now have to walk along what is called Bellgate Drive, around a mile's walk to what is Bell Gate, which is the actual entrance to Stowe Landscape Gardens.
There was music playing as we came out of the visitor's centre. An inflatable construction, like a sort of arch, had been erected, which was presumably where the race began and ended. On our walk towards Bell Gate we came across lots of people either running alone or with dogs. It's not something I've seen before. Alfie so wanted to be allowed to be let off his lead, but dogs are supposed to be kept on their leads at Stowe. I suppose because there are sheep and other livestock in the adjacent fields. When we take him for walks in our local park or along the Redway we allow him his freedom, which he loves, running back and forth, sniffing the trees and cocking his leg against every tree and shrub! But this time we kept him firmly on his lead.
He runs back and forth, never in a straight line, but certainly getting plenty of exercise in the process. Up to the top of the hill and then round to the left where we stopped to sit on a bench near some trees. Great views down towards the lakes and to take some more photographs. We walked on and into the main part of the gardens and then round back towards Bell Gate again and to walk back towards the visitor's centre and back to the carpark and eventually drive home to Milton Keynes.