Top National Trust Walks for All
27th April 2023
Find out about people from the past, discover remarkable art and collections and brush up on your knowledge of architecture and gardens with a range of wildlife to discover at some of our top National Trust destinations in Kent. Plan a day out with your family and friends and combine it with a walk around these sites. The recommended walking routes below are all under 5 miles with some that include easy access trails suitable for all.
The well-tended grounds of Chartwell can be seen along this peaceful 5 mile walk. This walk leads uphill to dramatic views over rolling hills, historic houses and farms. The semi mature-woodland is carpeted with bluebells in spring and rhododendrons in summer. The house and gardens of Chartwell exude the spirit, tastes and interests of their illustrious former owners, Sir Winston and Lady Churchill. The gardens include a grass terrace with fine views, an enormous fish pond and a walled garden which has recently been restored. Sir Winston Churchill was so attached to his home here that he said: “I love the place – a day away from Chartwell is a day wasted.” The Chartwell estate can be explored further by taking the National Trust Weardale circular walk which links Chartwell to the beautiful Emmetts Garden.
Experience the history and wildlife of Knole Park; Kent’s only remaining deer park, which has remained substantially unchanged since medieval times. It is a gentle 3 mile walk offering something for everyone that leads you through woodland and across open grassland. Immerse yourself in the vast estate and follow in the footsteps of tourists who have visited Knole’s showrooms for 400 years. Originally built as an archbishop’s palace, Knole passed through royalty to the Sackville family, who still live here today. Take in the scale and magnificence of this 600 year old estate by exploring the grand courtyards and tranquil Orangery or wander the winding paths in the parkland, still populated by wild deer.
Hidden away in a secluded Kent valley, is this perfectly preserved medieval moated manor house. Emerging from the natural landscape almost 700 years ago, Ightham Mote is built from Kentish ragstone and great Wealden oaks. In the tranquil gardens there are streams and lakes fed by natural springs, an orchard, flower borders and a cutting garden. The wider estate offers walks with secret glades and countryside views. There are three waymarked routes around the Ightham Mote estate – the red walk (1.2 miles) and green walk (2.5 miles) take you along footpaths, woodland and country lanes, while the wheelchair route runs for 1.4 miles around the woods at the north-eastern corner of the estate. All are equally charming, and full of wildlife, with pheasant an almost constant presence on the arable farmland interspersed with waterways and wooded areas.
The White Cliffs of Dover
You’ll start the 4 mile South Foreland Lighthouse walk at the entrance to the White Cliffs visitor centre. Housing a wonderful cafe and information hub, this clearly marked route along the edge of the North Downs is a great walk whatever the time of year. These high chalk cliffs look out onto the English Channel, giving far-reaching views towards the French coast. You’ll get a great view of the cliffs and also see the chalk grassland that’s home to so many unusual plants and insects like the chalkhill blue butterfly and the pyramidal orchid.
This 4 mile walk celebrates the life of Octavia Hill (1838–1912) founder of the National Trust in 1895, she was a social reformer, philanthropist, artist and writer. A remarkable woman, her vision has led to her being a major influence on our lives today. Starting at Toys Hill, you’ll walk to the picturesque village of Ide Hill and her commemorative seat, passing Emmetts Garden on the way back. Toy’s Hill is more than 200 acres (81 hectares) of woodland. The area is designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest due to its abundant wildlife, and much of it is recognised as a Grade I site of national importance for nature conservation. It is a marvellous place to enjoy a peaceful, relaxing walk, admire fine views over the Weald of Kent and to discover the wildlife it supports.