With 500 acres of beautiful gardens, woodland, lakeside walks, and bird hides, there’s plenty to explore at Coombe Abbey Park.
The park was designed and landscaped by Capability Brown and really does offer something for everyone.
There are some designated trails in the park that take in the different areas from the deer park to the woodland and lakeside.
The paths are accessible for all and great for little boots to explore.
This is about a 1.5 mile, circular walk that starts from the visitor centre and is fully accessible. We head north, crossing the bridge over the lake and then turn right towards the Coombe Abbey Hotel.
We first come to the formal gardens of Coombe Abbey. It was in 1862 that the 2nd Earl of Craven enlisted the help of William Andrews Nestfield to redesign the gardens that were immediately surrounding the house. Having previously worked at Kew, Nestfield revived his formal French style of gardening at Coombe – digging the moat, building the cascade and the terraced walls that you can see today. He also planted the Parterre – which although looks like one, isn’t a maze. It’s an elaborate design using different coloured gravel infill which was designed to be viewed from the house.
It was the head gardener of the time, William Miller, who was responsible for the planting of the elaborate flower beds and exotic trees which include the giant redwoods (the tallest of which is 37m tall).
Here you can also see the start of Coombe Pool, one of the longest lakes ever designed by Lancelot ‘Capability’ Brown. It’s over 1.5 miles in length.
It was in 1771 that Brown swept away the formal gardens surrounding the house and dammed the Smite stream forming the lake which was intended to resemble a wide endless river, in his naturalist landscape style he planted clumps of trees creating carriage rides and vistas across the estate.
When you’ve finished exploring the formal gardens, we follow the path up towards the top pool. This is where we find the decoy!
In 1845 the Skelton family, famed at the time for both their construction and running of duck decoys, were commissioned to to construct the duck decoy that can be seen here today (and is one of only 2 in the county). Decoys are originally from Denmark and the word comes from the Dutch ‘eendekooi’ which translates as duck cage. Using a decoy man and his dog (to resemble a fox), the ducks, thinking the dog was a predator, would be lured into the decoy until they could be scared into a net at the bottom end and captured. Back in the day, at Coombe 1500 ducks were taken from the decoy in a year and 106 in just one day. The species captured were often Mallards and Teal which would fetch up to 1 shilling each at market.
Looping back around from here, you’ll also come across the zip line, Go Ape and axe throwing if you’re looking for something more adventurous to do next! Otherwise, we follow the path back towards the lake, over the bridge and back to the visitor centre where we started.
Nearest Train (or tube) Station(s):
Coventry (5.8 mile)