Mapperton, the home of the Earl and Countess of Sandwich, lies in a glorious landscape two miles east of Beaminster in Dorset AONB.

Its garden, hidden in a steep-sided valley below the house, is its main attraction. It is simply stunning especially in autumn when the trees turn bright yellow and red.

The fifteen acres of gardens is a combination of three styles at the hands of three different owners.

The banks, terraces and fish ponds date from the Elizabethan period but in the 1920s a wealthy widow, Ethel Labouchère, created an Arts and Crafts garden in the Italianate style.

The current owners have done a lot to improve the planting on all three levels of the garden.

Thanks to their perseverance, Mapperton is seen as one of the most important and distinctive gardens in the country.

Mapperton Gardens and the Coach House Café are open to visitors in high season. The Jacobean manor house is open for limited periods during the summer.

Images by Cool Places Britain

The tumbling hills and unspoiled nature of Dorset surrounds this beautiful estate, making it an excellent starting point for a countryside ramble.

Start with a lunch in the Coach House Café!

This venue on the estate serves hot and cold drinks, delicious cakes and cream teas, toasties, sandwiches and light lunches. Ticket purchase is not required for visits to the café.

Then start walking.

In 2000 the Beaminster Ramblers created five Beaminster Hills Circular Walks as their millennium project.

Walk four, a 7,5-mile circular, takes you up hill through fields to Mapperton, through woodland paths to Toller Whelme and on to the ridge above Langdon Farm.

From here, there are glorious views to the west, taking in Pilsdon Pen and Lamberts Castle in the distance and Beaminster and Gerrards Hill in the foreground.

Cool Places to Explore: Beaminster | Pilsdon Pen | West Bay | Hive Beach | Forde Abbey House & Gardens | Colmers Hill | Golden Cap | Hell Lane.

Cool Places to Eat: Brassica | Trading Post Café | Lord Poulett Arms | The Ollerod.