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Good housekeeping: The National Trust's first ever Walking Festival

PUBLISHED: 11:33 29 September 2011 | UPDATED: 20:04 20 February 2013

Good housekeeping: The National Trust's first ever Walking Festival

Good housekeeping: The National Trust's first ever Walking Festival

After a summer of fun and games, we often feel at a bit of a loose end once October has come in with its cooler weather and darker evenings. But with imagination and research, the adventures needn't stop just because winter is around the corner

After a summer of fun and games, we often feel at a bit of a loose end once October has come in with its cooler weather and darker evenings. But with a bit of imagination and research, the adventures neednt stop just because winter is around the corner


Now is the time to get outdoors to admire the autumn colours in the trees while taking part in the National Trusts first ever Walking Festival. Or perhaps take in a little autumn housekeeping, mansion-house style.


The National Trust looks after dozens of houses around the country, all of which contain many intricate and delicate artefacts that need careful cleaning and maintaining. At this time of year the National Trust house teams must prepare for winter and the closure of many of the mansions, cottages and houses for the colder months.


For the public, autumn shows the houses at their most intriguing, as visitors get a rare chance to see behind the scenes and find out more about the private spaces and specialist conservation techniques that are normally kept hidden from view. For example, staff at Quebec House in Westerham are holding special conservation days over three Thursdays in October (6, 13 and 20 October) to demonstrate how some of the precious objects in their care are looked after and cleaned.


Ightham Mote, also near Sevenoaks in Ivy Hatch, is inviting visitors to take a peek into many of the usually closed drawers and cupboards to be found around the fascinating medieval manor house on 20 October, before it shuts for the winter. Who could possibly resist such an opportunity!


As the nights start to draw in, these same National Trust houses can take on the excitingly spooky feel of Halloween. Brave-hearted visitors might enjoy Ightham Motes ghost and gourmet evenings on 22 and 29 October; each including a spooky candlelit tour of the house and a tasty warming supper. Similar creepiness awaits you at Sir Winston Churchills Westerham home, Chartwell, which turns strangely eerie after dark. Visitors are invited to join an evening lantern tour on 21 October, followed by dinner to revive any uneasy spirits. Visit the National Trusts website for details on booking.


And while many of the main houses and formal gardens close for the end of season this month, the National Trusts vast countryside and wider estates remain open for visitors to keep fit and healthy while walking in some of Kents most beautiful surroundings.


This October half term, the organisation launches its first ever Walking Festival a programme of outdoor events including guided ranger walks, self-guided routes and Halloween trails.Downloadable walks and waymarked trails have been created in association with the Walking Festival, including routes along the dramatic coastline of the White Cliffs of Dover and the ancient woodland of the Kentish Weald. Each of these walks will be available to download from the website all year round, along with details of other walks and outdoor events across the country.


For anyone wishing to get a head start on that perennial New Year resolution to get fit, this might well be the perfect place to start, ahead of all that Christmas excess we know is on the way.


Spick & span


This month, the National Trust teams are cleaning the fine furniture, ceramics and statues as their houses and gardens prepare to close for winter. If this has inspired you to have an autumn clean of your own this month, see below for some top conservation tips.


High humidity levels can encourage mould to develop on precious objects, so keep indoor temperatures as low as possible to reduce the impact, which can cause irreversible and unsightly damage


Covering external statues and intricate stonework will help prevent saturation and frost damage in the colder months


Valuable wallpaper and irreplaceable photos, prints, maps and other wall hangings should be positioned carefully to minimise light exposure. Make sure they are framed carefully to keep moisture and insect pests at bay


Books can get rather dusty, but they should be cleaned very carefully, preferably with a natural bristle brush. Repairs to important books should be carried out by a professional


For more information on how the National Trust cares for its properties and collections, or to find out what else is happening over the coming months, visit: kent.greatbritishlife.co.uk and go to Links.




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