My original intention had been to walk up The Ride, the long wide tree-lined grassy avenue leading to the castle, then round the bottom end of the lake and back through the woods but it didn't quite work out like that. I'd only got a quarter of the way up The Ride when I saw a woman further up, coming towards me with four off-lead dogs - I didn't want them running about round Sophie and Poppie, who were on the lead, so I veered off to the left and took a path through the woods. I'd never been in the woods on that side of The Ride before and I hadn't gone very far when I came to a clearing with a long red brick wall and a sign pointing the way to the Old English Garden. This was something completely new to me and as gardens usually mean photos I just had to check it out.
Following the path took me through an arched gateway in the wall and I was pleasantly surprised by what I found on the other side. High well-trimmed hedges enclosed an area where many different brightly coloured flowers and plants grew rampant on each side of a gravel path, and an archway through another wall at the end took me to a lawned area edged with bushes and flowering shrubs and with a gazebo at one end. Beyond the gazebo a low stone wall topped with a fancy iron railing separated the lawns from another smaller area where four gardeners were tending to the plants; it was a really pretty area but I could only manage one photo before someone got in my way.
By the time I'd finished wandering round the gardens I hadn't got long left before I needed to get back to the van. I didn't want to risk it being locked in the field, although the stewards were still there in their tent, so it was time to head back. There was only one thing wrong though - where I came out of the garden wasn't where I went in, and the path I followed took me miles from where I wanted to be. I found my way back to The Ride eventually though and with one quick shot of the lake I headed back to the van and got there only a couple of minutes after noon.
After saying goodbye to the stewards I set off for home and as I left Elvaston Castle behind patches of blue began appearing through the clouds followed by brief shafts of sunshine; the further west I went the nicer it became and by the time I'd reached the outskirts of Stoke-On-Trent it was just as nice as the previous two days. I was back home within two hours and as I downloaded my photos onto the computer I said a silent 'thanks' to the unknown woman with the four dogs I'd seen earlier - if it hadn't been for them I wouldn't have veered away from my intended walk and I wouldn't have discovered the lovely Old English Garden. And now I know about it I'll certainly be paying another visit next time I'm there.