There’s a whole lotto grotto at Painshill Park.
In London? Well, sort of. You’ll find this crystalline cave in Surrey, just within the boundaries of the M25, which means we’re claiming it for our own. So there. [Photo: @buckyrocks]
This gorgeous landscape garden dates way back to 1738, and was the life’s work of Charles Hamilton, a well-to-do member of the Irish aristocracy. After touring around Europe and liking what he saw, he was inspired to fill his own plot of land with eccentric follies, Renaissance architecture and, yes, this rather lovely grotto.
Centered around a beautiful lake, the property features bridges, valleys, a Gothic Tower, an amphitheatre, statues, and whatever else struck Hamilton’s fancy at the time.
There are several miles of trails (much but not all of it on an ‘accessible’ route) which will take you around the various sites. You might also recognise some of the features from the Black Mirror episode Hang the DJ on Netflix (fortunately one of the more romantic instalments in the series…)
Guests are welcome to enjoy a picnic and generally take their time exploring the grounds, so it’s perfect for a sunny weekend visit. (Also, the Crystal Grotto itself is only open at weekends!)
All in all, it’s a rather fine spot to take in some fresh air, so head along this autumn.
Location: Portsmouth Road, Cobham, KT11 1JE. See it on Google Maps. Cobham & Stoke D’Abernon station (38 minutes from Waterloo) is two miles away, from there get a taxi or Chatterbus.
Opening hours: seven days a week, 10am – 6pm, with last entry at 4.30pm. The Crystal Grotto is open weekends only, 11am – 3pm.
Entry: £8 for adults, £4.5o for children, under-5s go free.
More information: on their website.