Stowe House in Stowe gardens near Milton Keynes viewed from distance
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Stowe House and gardens are a healthy day out

Do you struggle to get to the gym or stick to your diet? Are you too busy to do the right things for your health? And do you even enjoy doing the things that are supposed to make you fit?

If you answer yes, then try a day out at any of the historic houses and gardens run by the National Trust. Today, I visited Stowe House and Gardens to meet my daily step goals and enjoy a host of other natural benefits from exploring places on foot and outdoors.

Visiting historical sites is a trick I have learnt that combines what I want to do with what I need to do to create a life that I enjoy and is also good for me.

By visiting Stowe House, I had a fantastic day out exploring a famous house and its beautiful gardens. I also learned a lot of history and achieved many fitness milestones for the day. This goes to show that investing in your health is fun when you turn it into sightseeing 🙂

It was an opportunity to live life at the same time as hunting and gathering, which allowed me to invest in my overall health, including:

  • vision
  • metabolism
  • bones
  • knowledge
  • skin
  • posture

I use daily life as my workout routine and diet plan to prepare for long-term adventures such as holidays. In my series on our Weymouth holiday, you will find more detail on building a happy healthy lifestyle incorporating hunting and gathering like this into regular daily life.

Fitness stats

Map of the Stowe estate

You can see from the map of the Stowe estate that the gardens are big and it offers an excellent amount of space to walk around and explore.

In terms of overall statistics, I

  • walked 15,000 steps, 10.5km (6.5 miles),
  • stood for a good 4-5 hours, but likely more.

All that plus I really enjoyed myself.

The house

The house inside was fantastic if you are into history, and the guided 45-minute tour was excellent.

I am really glad I joined the tour, as I learned so much. The house is really well restored and constantly being improved, but there is not so much detail around explaining everything that has happened and the particular stories and reference points. So, the tour and the YouTube videos at the bottom of this post really filled in those gaps.

I knew from documentaries that the Dukes of Buckingham have twice been the richest people in England and have often wielded significant monetary and political weight. The tour explained in much more detail the intricate connections to many of the prime ministers of the day and how this enabled the wealth required to build such a splendid house.

Here are a few of the photos I took. What I cannot get across is the feeling of the place. The grandeur and atmosphere.

It’s always fun to hear how such amazing history is on my doorstep, and I was walking through it. It’s just like other nearby historical places, including:

  • Bletchley Park where I learnt about the work my grandad did supporting Alan Turing,
  • Woburn Manor I visited a couple of weeks ago and explored the walk around the safari park and the deer reserve,
  • Woburn Abbey, which I explored yesterday in fact as its so close and so pretty. 

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The health benefits

Modern Western life can be bad for our health if we forget how humans lived before. We tend to forget the benefits of regular gentle activities. Getting out regularly is so important for health, so now I will explain a few of the benefits I gained from my day out.

The complete list of benefits, however, is much greater as we are a species designed to be active and to get out and explore the world on a regular basis.

Days out are, therefore, one opportunity among many to get some activity that promotes the hunter and gatherer within all of us.

Improving Vision with Sightseeing

While exploring the house and grounds, I worked hard on my vision, which I have been investing in and working on for several years now. This was a sightseeing day during which I completed many thousand steps, did a lot of standing and gazing, and implemented a lot of active focus in the Endmyopia approach I am following. 

Much of what I do is designed to be part of normal life and not distinct and separate activities, like going to the gym. Sightseeing in daily life like this has become an integral way for me to slowly extend the distance and clarity at which I can see while doing things I enjoy like taking walks and visiting places I am interested in.

Today, I feasted my eyes on all that was around me, particularly the intricate details hidden in the ceilings throughout the house. I had the pleasure of meditating on the intricate details I could see, which normally are blurred out, but today, I could really take them in. As I have become more skilled in supporting and improving my eyes I could see and feel the nourishment they were getting from all this beauty and at the end of the day I could feel that they were tired and needed recuperation.

Improving metabolism with a mini-fast

Not eating for much of the day challenged my metabolism because I had not brought any food. I had left it in the car, hoping to pop back for it. This is a common challenge I face which I overcome by ensuring I always have plenty of water. OUr bodies require water much more than they require food so I prioritise water needs over food. This helps reset my metabolism by creating a demand for local energy and nutrients instead of those relying purely onfood that I eat. This resetting of nutrient demand from my cells keeps the related metabolic processes working and thus maintained. It seems so simple but this reflects how daily life used to be for us. Reading about medieval diets and lifestyles reminded me how different lifestyles used to be and how nature would balance times of plenty with times of less.

To keep me going, I indulged as I passed the pantry at the entrance, which had ice cream and drinks that gave me sustenance. I am trying to mind the pennies, so this is my way of indulging and being in the spirit of getting out while staying within budget. 

Developing resistance to the sun’s rays

I am writing this article enjoying the sun on my skin sitting in a copse in the grounds of the house, surrounded by the chirping of birds and baying of lambs. It is a lovely, idyllic scene. 

We all know that our skin needs natural light to produce tvitamin D which is essential for strong bones among many other functions within the body. 

What we often forget is that regular exposure to the sun throughout the year benefits us in so many ways. As the days get longer and spring turns to summer, the natural protection our skin develops against the sun’s rays becomes indispensable. We forget that centuries ago, we did not have the sun creams we have today, and we spent our days out tending fields or hunting or whatever, so our bodies have natural defences that we can develop. 

So every year I make sure that I develop a sun habit to build up my natural protection and enhance it with sun cream when necessary. Having a bald head I am more prone than most to sunburn so not only must I plan ahead and prepare I can also vouch for how important it is to develop your natural defences. 

Just in… Distraction aids weight loss!!!

Another trick I inherited that helps no end keep my weight in check is distraction. No one seems to mention it, but it could be the single biggest reason I keep the weight off. I am a serious binge eater, and I polished off all sorts last night before I went to bed. To give you an idea I went to bed to stop myself eating!!!

I am so used to doing this I only recently realised how serious my problem ha become and it is because I live this active lifestyle that I keep the weight off. If I stop being so active then it quickly piles on. 

Distractions like a sightseeing trip offer no end of help when it comes to balancing the effects of my binges. 

The ornate gold leaf throughout the house decor is amazing

Pointing this out may help you see how natural the trick of distraction can become as a method to support and guide your life. This means that I will have earned the binge I am looking forward to when I get back to the car.

During this time of distraction, my body has been asked to go without for quite a while, this period of training will help to preserve and maintain the mechanisms we all have that help our bodies make the best use of our resources. 

In plain English, this is why getting out and living like this is good for our health. It makes our bodies work properly by using them the way nature intended. By doing that, we apply the pressures to ourselves that our bodies expect, and so they respond appropriately. 

So, at first, this seems complicated, but in reality, it is quite simple. If we live well as humans, we will be able to live well for a long time. 

So draining!

Never before have I seen a drain inside a lake. Not something that I’m used to seeing in a path or street with a manhole cover or at the edge of a road as a storm drain. This one was right there in the middle of the lake like a drain for a bath but not at the bottom, It was acting like the one you get on a sink to stop it over flowing.

I have never seen a drain inside a lake before!!!

Future plans

Since I can come back to explore the grounds for free until my membership expires I was using today as a recce for future sightseeing trips. 

One thing I have been looking out for is places to sit and write or just hang out. Mainly, I want a place to come and write articles like this instead of being stuck at home. Also, I want a place to bring the kids. It’s perfect for getting them outside with enough rest areas that they will enjoy it. 

No play parks, though, but that’s fine with me.  

A good writing retreat

The good news is that I found lots of seats around the grounds, some with shade, some in the sun, and many other variations. So there does seem to be plenty, and it looks like a good place to write. I really enjoyed the blossom around the gardens, which are in full bloom right now. ?These are another sight-seeing treasure. 

I also found several waterfalls. They were not big waterfalls, but they were beautiful enough and made the soothing sound that waterfalls make. It had the tranquillity of a spa and the freedom of nature.

Near the end of the day, I found the Chinese house and the gardens surrounding it, which are wonderful. Walking through them feels like a maze, and I have to decide which route to take. The use of the land is very different from the vast open fields and vistas of the rest of the grounds. Here, it feels more like a spar or a retreat with undulating paths surrounded by rocks and mounds to climb. 

The gardens behind the Chinese house also had the best mobile coverage other than inside the house itself. The monuments at the front will be good for shade during the heat of the day. They have seating in and have walls facing the sun, and big stone roofs 

On my way back, I walked to the house and found the cafe closed. The main toilets next to the car park were still open at 5 p.m and by then, I needed them. , which. Unfortunately these toilets are around half a mile from the house itself. Checking the map, these appear to be the only toilets on the site. 

Costs

I have so many interests and only so much money so I try to keep costs down so that I can do as much as possible with the money I have. My plan is to come back many more times to store because it is only 15 or so miles from where I live so it would be a shame not to take advantage of free entry.

In terms of wider costs, the grounds were free because I have a national trust membership, but the house is run by a separate charity, which offered £2 off the £9.50 charge. 

Apparently, I can join a historic houses membership to make it all free if I want to come regularly. 

Dinner, breaking my fast

Now for my well-earned reward. Dinner!!!

Part of keeping the costs down I prefer to bring. picnic. I picked these hog roasts up during the week and kept them in the freezer to defrost the day before. The pears and carrot below along with some biscuits kept me full at a fraction of the price I would normally have to pay for a meal out. I like sausage rolls because they keep well and any mess made when eating them is easy to clear up.

4 hogroast sausage rolls reduce from £2.25 to 57p

The pears can be messy but they add water as well as natural nutrients and carrot also keep well and make little mess.

Costs add up quickly so this is my way of stretching my budget to afford more days out than I otherwise could.

Pears and carrot

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Stowe on Youtube

This is a lovely video showing the best bits of Stowe. The nice thing for me is that it really is more beautiful in person. This video is stunning, with great camera work showing Stowe at its best, but seeing it today, up close and personal, was so much more.

What I really appreciated was the wealth of background resources on the YouTube site that I could watch while exploring the house to add to what I had learned from the tour. It really did make the visit that much more special.

Further references

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