Halloween haunts in Kent
PUBLISHED: 15:02 10 October 2015 | UPDATED: 15:03 10 October 2015
©National Trust Images/John Millar
Visit the National Trust to experience some spooky goings-on at its Kent mansions and gardens over the half-term break
October’s misty mornings, frost-covered cobwebs and cold nip in the air are all perfect accompaniments to the arrival of Hallowe’en and the half-term break.
The National Trust provides an ideal backdrop for some deliciously spooky visits at this time of year, from imposing mansion houses with long-held secrets and ghostly goings-on to the gardens that are home to quietly rustling leaves, bare branches twisted into creepy shapes and dark, forbidding corners just waiting to be explored.
Then there is the iconic Kent coastline with its fascinating history of smugglers and shipwrecks, lonely lighthouses and looming cliffs that plunge into the dark sea below.
To help visitors make the most of their days out in Kent this month, the National Trust has prepared a programme of fearsome events to spook the senses and scare even the bravest families who dare to come along.
Events range from ghoulish garden trails and pumpkin crafts to ghostly gatherings and wicked wildlife fun. There will also be plenty of chances for families to tick off some autumnal activities on their list of 50 things to do before you’re 11 and 3/4, such as stargazing and night walks.
Emmetts Garden in Westerham is gearing up to provide plenty of Hallowe’en fun and games. A pumpkin-themed garden trail runs daily between 24 October and 1 November. Participants must find the pumpkins dotted around the garden to help complete a spell and win a prize at the end.
Children can also enjoy the last of the autumn sunshine and let imaginations run wild in the new wild play area, located next to the old stables. Then there are the magnificent seasonal colours to enjoy in the trees and shrubs around the garden, providing a final burst of colour before winter sets in.
Visitors might be excused for thinking that nothing spooky could ever happen at the charming, 16th-century cottage at Smallhythe Place in Tenterden, which was once the home of Victorian actress, Ellen Terry.
However, the events team there has been busy planning a haunted trail around the pretty grounds that takes place after dark for maximum fright value. The trail takes place on Hallowe’en night itself, with sessions starting at 6.30pm and 7.30pm. For £5 per person, visitors can take part in scary stories and other themed activities. Book a place in advance on 01580 762334.
Finally, Dover’s South Foreland Lighthouse is joining in the fun with a special half-term trail to show visitors what it was like to be a lighthouse keeper and look out over the stormy seas to guide ships safely past the hidden rocks.
The area has a long history of smugglers risking their vessels and their lives to bring contraband goods in and out of the country.
Trail participants will be invited to solve clues to help a troubled ship in the bay and stop it from meeting an untimely, unpleasant doom. The trail costs £1 per person and runs from 26 October to 1 November.
Nearby Fan Bay Deep Shelter will also be open throughout half term for pre-booked tours.
The complex network of Second World War tunnels housed up to 185 soldiers and their officers, giving bomb-proof accommodation in a strategic location for Britain’s coastal defences.
To take part in a tour, visitors must be aged 12 years or older and in good health. Pre-booked tickets are available, or you can book tickets on the day at the Visitor Centre at Dover (please note that no tickets are available for purchase at the tunnel entrance).
FIND OUT MORE
For booking instructions and further information about Hallowe’en events, half-term fun and autumnal attractions in Kent, please visit the National Trust website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast.