Win­ter walks

Kent Life - - National Trust - WORDS: Emma Ward PHO­TOS:

Coun­ter­act all that fes­tive over-in­dul­gence with a win­ter walk through Na­tional Trust-owned Kentish coun­try­side

Na­tional Trust Im­ages

The 389 hectares of Na­tional Trust-owned Kentish coun­try­side re­main open to the pub­lic all year round, of­fer­ing the per­fect lo­ca­tion for a win­ter walk. Here are four of our favourites to try.

CHARTWELL

Chartwell in Wester­ham is set in glo­ri­ous coun­try­side that of­fers sev­eral choices for a win­tery ram­ble. One pop­u­lar route takes walk­ers up Mariners Hill to ad­mire stun­ning views over the Chartwell es­tate and nearby Bough Beech reser­voir. Benches dot­ted along the route al­low con­ve­nient rest breaks.

Dive into the woods, fol­low the bri­dle­way and emerge at Chartwell again, ready for tea and cake in the res­tau­rant. Or you can book in for Christ­mas lunch in the Lady Soames Room be­tween 4 and 21 De­cem­ber

(Tue to Fri, 12 noon and 1.30pm).

Just call 01732 861161 ahead of your visit. Or en­joy a spe­cial fes­tive brunch on 26, 27 De­cem­ber or 1 Jan­uary 2019 be­tween 11am and 2.30pm.

IGHTHAM MOTE

Two guided walks take place on Box­ing Day and New Year’s Day at Ightham Mote in Ivy Hatch. Both start at 10am and end with the chance to en­joy a ba­con sand­wich in the café be­fore head­ing home. £10 per per­son (in­cludes walk and re­fresh­ments), book­able in ad­vance on 01732 811314.

The wider es­tate at Ightham Mote is open for self-guided walks all year round and the café serves hot drinks, snacks and meals daily (ex­cept 24 and 25 Dec).

EM­METTS GAR­DEN

At Em­metts Gar­den in Wester­ham a fun fam­ily trail is run­ning ev­ery day be­tween 24 Nov and 6 Jan (ex­cept 24 and 25 Dec). Hunt for presents un­der­neath the fes­tively

dec­o­rated trees to win a prize, at just £1 per trail. Em­metts Gar­den is a haven of tran­quil­lity all year round but es­pe­cially in win­ter, where the bare branches of the trees frame far-reach­ing views and the beau­ti­ful hill­top gar­den starts to re­veal the first signs of the spring growth to come.

For a more am­bi­tious walk, down­load the direc­tions for the five-mile Weardale Cir­cu­lar route that takes you to Toys Hill and down the val­ley to­wards Chartwell. Or fol­low ei­ther of the east or west Octavia Hill cen­te­nary trails, named after the Na­tional Trust’s founder.

SCOT­NEY CAS­TLE

For cu­ri­ous chil­dren look­ing for some­thing a bit dif­fer­ent to do, come to Scot­ney Cas­tle, where a spe­cial Noah’s Ark trail awaits.

Run­ning ev­ery day in De­cem­ber, the trail takes vis­i­tors around the gar­den to hunt for an­i­mals hid­den in the un­der­growth.

Then drop into the man­sion to see the beau­ti­ful Vic­to­rian Noah’s Ark on dis­play that in­spired the trail and en­ter­tained gen­er­a­tions of chil­dren at Scot­ney Cas­tle. Trail costs £2 per per­son.

More in­trepid ex­plor­ers can en­joy a longer hike around the sur­round­ing es­tate at Scot­ney Cas­tle, which takes in a va­ri­ety of coun­try­side habi­tats in­clud­ing hop fields, wood­lands and park­land. You can down­load a route map from the Na­tional Trust web­site and don’t for­get to visit the tea room af­ter­wards for a warm pick-me-up.

Make sure you take a map or GPS de­vice on your win­tery walk and dress to suit the weather con­di­tions. Wear stout win­ter footwear to guard against slip­ping on frozen patches and do pack a drink and some small snacks.

FIND OUT MORE

More in­for­ma­tion about trail-marked routes and guided walks in Kent, as well as open­ing times for Na­tional Trust cafes, restau­rants and tea rooms is avail­able at: www.na­tion­al­trust. org.uk/kent

Photo: Na­tional Trust

ABOVE: Chartwell in win­ter

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