SEASONAL STROLLS

THE NATIONAL TRUST REVEALS ITS TOP FIVE AUTUMN COLOUR WALKS IN KENT AND EAST SUSSEX

At this time of year, there is a palette of incredible colour waiting to be found across breath-taking landscapes in Kent and East Sussex. Discover woodlands of golden leaves, bronze skylines and plentiful harvests along these top five walks across the counties.

With hundreds of walks available to download from the National Trust’s website, there are plenty of opportunities to get outdoors and connect with nature. From bracing hikes over windswept coastlines to gentle woodland walks with a view, there are trails to suit all tastes.

All over the country, the National Trust is encouraging everyone to explore and share their experiences of the many special places the conservation charity looks after. Choose from their top five most colourful walks in Kent and East Sussex to inspire you this autumn:

1. Kipling countryside walk at Bateman’s

Distance: 2.5 miles (4 km)
Difficulty: Easy
Autumn is the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness at the family home of Rudyard Kipling. The harvest will be well and truly underway, with damsons and plums from the orchard informing delicious tearoom treats.
Venture out onto the wider estate on the Kipling countryside walk. The trail loops through woodland, past rivers and across meadows, taking in the highlights of autumn in the East Sussex countryside. It’s easy to see why the landscape so inspired fairy tales and fantasy – keep an eye for pixies hidden in crunchy fallen leaves. The Wild Garden is the focus of autumn colour, with ornamental trees and shrubs such as Liquidamber styraciflua and Fraxinus excelsior in their finest throes.

Head gardener, Len Bernamont, says:
“The Amelanchiers and Azaleas are among my favourites in autumn. For those who like to reap the rewards of a plentiful harvest, the bumper crops of blackberries on the estate walks are a juicy treat.” Download the walk

2. Parkland trail at Scotney Castle

Distance: 2 miles (3.2 km)
Difficulty: Moderate

The jubilant colours framing the magnificent medieval ruin take on new tones over the fall. Take an outsider’s view from the parkland trail, which loops around the estate.

Keep an eye to your left as you head downhill, for gaps in the golden tree canopies opening up views of the bridge by the moat. Catch a glimpse of Liquidambar styracifl ua, down by the boathouse, for a stunning photo opportunity.
Hardy walking souls can choose to turn right into Kilndown Wood before looping back up to Scotney’s house.

Paul Micklewright, Garden and Estate Manager at Scotney Castle, says: “The beech avenue at Kilndown is breath-taking, and can be visited by following our red marked estate walking route.”

A detour into Scotney’s gardens at the end of the parkland trail will take you past yellow tulip trees, and spindle-fruited Celastrus Arbieulatus over the doorway onto the bowling green lawn at the old castle. The 100-year-old purple cut-leaved Japanese Maples, below the Bastion, are an autumn staple that people return for year after year.
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3. Ightham Mote’s circular walk to Wilmot Hill

Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Difficulty: Moderate

Walk the periphery of Ightham Mote’s 580 acre estate, taking in dense, ancient woodland and breath-taking views as you go.
The trail sits in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, and it’s not hard to see why. Come autumn, far-reaching views across the Kent countryside mix an artist’s palette of red, yellow and gold.
Looping back to the fourteenth centurymanor, a turn in the garden unveils more autumnal treats. Cercidiphyllum japonicum (toffee apple tree) near the North Lake unleashes an intoxicating smell of burnt sugar from late September to early October. Tulip tree, maples and euonymus shrubs also play their part in a spectacular riot of autumn colour.
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4. Octavia Hill centenary trail east at Emmetts Garden

Distance: 4 miles (6.4 km)
Difficulty: Easy

The Kentish countryside surrounding Emmetts Garden is a fiery mix of nature, history and heritage. Home of National Trust founder Octavia Hill, a stone seat on the approach to Ide Hill village commemorates a life dedicated to social reform and the outdoors.

In autumn, crunchy leaves cushion the ground along the trail in the woodland of Toys Hill and Scords Wood. In Toys Hill hamlet, a stunning viewpoint by the well looks over an autumnal Wealden wonderland.
The route passes by exotic Emmetts, famed for its vibrant autumn colour. Visit the South Garden to see progress in the long-running project to restore Frederick Lubbock’s ‘garden gallery’. It is home to an impressive collection of hardy trees and shrubs in red, pink and orange.

Head Gardener Matt Scott says: “Our exotic tree collection comes into its own in autumn. The bright red of the Winged Spindle (Euonymus alatus) and golden leaves on the Japanese maple (Acer pamatum) are a true wonder to see. Ripe, vibrant berries are abundant too, including the regal purple berries on the Prickly heath (Gaultheria mucronata) and siren-read of the Tree Cotoneaster (Cotoneaster frigidus) fruit.”
Those looking for something a little different from their autumn display will be enchanted by the many varied fungi species dotted around the grounds. Download the walk

5. Sissinghurst Castle Garden estate walk

Distance: 3 miles (4.8 km)
Difficulty: Easy

This gentle trail takes in the highlights of Sissinghurst Castle Garden’s 450-acre wider estate. Nestled in the heart of the Weald, see the landscape that inspired Vita Sackville-West’s world-class garden.

Pass wildlife in abundance from cows in the fields to smaller critters hiding in the woodlands. The trees knit a canopy of yellows, browns and reds, casting an autumnal glow along the route.

Leave time to loop through the gardens, where a vibrant palette of fiery reds and golden yellows creates a spectacular autumn scene. The cottage garden is a particular delight, whilst the trees in the orchard hang low with seasonal fruits.
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