The National Trust has unveiled some of its most colourful places and stories in Kent ahead of its Great British Walk 2014. A seven week walking festival, the Great British Walk encourages everyone to explore the outdoors and discover vibrant National Trust’s spaces on foot. A vast and varied selection of walks is available, from those chosen by the public to handpicked walks from National Trust experts.
Running from 8 September to 24 October, this year’s Great British Walk has uncovered some of the region’s most colourful vistas, stories, characters and objects to see on a walk. Take a stroll through an incredible landscape of colour this autumn, and don’t miss the top colourful choices in Kent, many of which can only be seen during the walking festival:
Knole – in the last surviving deer park in Kent, Knole’s guided walks provide the perfect chance to see the golden hue of the wild deer, glimpse sunlight through the autumnal reds and browns of the ancient oak trees and spot mottled greys of fungi in the undergrowth. Inside, one of the most ostentatious showrooms glows soft silver – the King’s room is home to a rare set of solid silver furniture probably from the court of Louis XIV of France. Only two of the sets survive, the other belongs to the Queen and is kept at Windsor Castle.
Sissinghurst Castle – the home of Vita Sackville-West, Sissinghurst Castle is built of dusty pink bricks which look the most romantic from a distance. Take an estate walk for the best views of the tower and to experience the changing colours of the lakes, woodland and farmland. Climb to the top of the tower to see far reaching views across the Kentish Weald and the rosy bricks up close, or visit the exhibition in the oast house to learn more about the colourful characters of Vita and her husband Harold.
White Cliffs of Dover – the best place in the region for those who love shades of blue – cobalt, navy, turquoise and indigo shades of the sea and sky mingle together, set off by the white of the cliffs themselves. Special guided walks from the visitor centre to South Foreland Lighthouse run on 19 September and 10 October (no booking required), otherwise pick up a map and explore the blues on your own
Chartwell – take the circular estate walk through the woodland to see the best view of the house and its bright red bricks. The family home of Sir Winston Churchill, Chartwell was where the great man himself could relax and enjoy his favourite hobbies, including painting. The studio in the garden is literally full of colour, including Churchill’s own palette still covered in paint, his artworks, easel and other materials on display. The multi-coloured artworks stand out against the oak floors and furnishings.
Ightham Mote – follow one of three way-marked routes around the estate to take in peaceful woodland, ancient springs and stunning views over the Kentish countryside. Those looking to go further afield can even download walks to nearby Oldbury Hill and Old Soar Manor. Inside, visit the new chapel and look up at the original 16th-century ceiling to see regal emblems associated with the union of Henry VIII and Catherine of Aragon – the red and white Tudor rose and yellow castles of Castile. On the 1 October don’t miss the opening of the painted cabinet in the chapel corridor –ornately decorated on the outside, the cabinet is a shocking bright red inside
Of the land the Trust looks after in Kent, 389 hectares is always open to the public, 1,421 hectares are within Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty and nearly 8 kilometres are coastline cared for by the Trust.
Share pictures of your colourful walks and experiences with the National Trust this year on Twitter, Instagram and Facebook using #GBwalk. For more information on National Trust seasonal strolls and downloadable walks visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/greatbritishwalk