Why you should explore Kent’s National Trust sites this summer
PUBLISHED: 11:58 11 August 2020
It’s summer and the world is starting to open back up again after the restrictions brought about by Covid-19 | Words: Emma Ward - Photos: National Trust
After such a long time spent at home, we’re all looking forward to a summer full of fun, while remaining mindful of our responsibilities towards each other and our beautiful surroundings.
So dig out your walking shoes, pack up a picnic and head out into the glorious Kent countryside.
Discover somewhere new
Kent is full of hidden gems and secret spots off the beaten track that enable social distancing in truly inspiring surroundings.
One Tree Hill near Sevenoaks offers wide-reaching views across the county and was one of the first areas of countryside preserved for the National Trust more than 100 years ago.
Or wander round the charming Chiddingstone Village near Edenbridge, one of England’s few remaining Tudor villages.
Delve into local history
Did you know that Kent is home to the Neolithic stone megaliths that form Coldrum Longbarrow near West Malling, built an astonishing 1,000 years before Stonehenge?
Or that you can see the remains of an Iron Age fort at Oldbury Hill near Ightham Mote?
Cobham Woods is also home to a fascinating restored 18th-century mausoleum set in tranquil woodland pasture. While the mausoleum itself still remains closed to the public, there is still plenty of beautiful countryside around it to explore.
This simple summertime pleasure is once again made possible by the reopening of many countryside areas, parks and wider estates.
The key thing here is to pack light; don’t bring too much with you that you will need to carry back home again, and above all, do not leave anything behind when you leave. Choose a spot to eat your picnic that is away from any delicate plants that could be crushed underfoot, or too close to grazing herds or wildlife that might become disturbed by your proximity.
Litter and discarded picnic items not only cause a blight to the countryside, but also put wildlife at risk of becoming tangled up in discarded packaging, or mistaking it for food and causing internal injuries.
If in doubt, follow the points laid out in the Countryside Code from Natural England.
Leave no trace
A key part of the Countryside Code is to leave no sign behind that you have ever been in the vicinity, which means removing all litter and belongings and leaving all flora and fauna exactly as you find them.
Stay aware of your surroundings and maintain social distance from anyone who is not in your household or agreed social group. Pay attention to any signage and special arrangements for parking or access.
Finally, the National Trust does not allow barbecues or campfires to be lit anywhere on its land in Kent, including in the countryside and at the beach.
It only takes a small spark from a single barbecue to ignite the surrounding grass or foliage and fires and cause significant damage, especially in the dry conditions that have followed very little rainfall in April and May this year.
Find out more
While selected parks, gardens and more than 200 coast and countryside car parks are now open, capacity at National Trust-owned places has been reduced to allow fewer people in at one time and keep visitors, staff and volunteers safe.
Some places require you to book your visit in advance and some car parks will close to new arrivals once they are full to control numbers.
To find out more, visit: nationaltrust.org.uk/features/how-to-book-your-visit-and-what-to-expect