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National Trust sites and things to do across Kent and East Sussex this summer holidays

Looking for ways to keep everyone entertained during the summer holidays? You don’t have to go far to enjoy a change of scene, and experience new adventures in nature, thanks to the National Trust.

Explore wild woods perfect for hide and seek or building dens; discover bridges over rivers and play Pooh Sticks, follow geocaching trails in search of hidden treasure or try tree swings, butterfly trails and photography challenges.

Take a look at what the National Trust has on offer this summer Picture: Arnhel de Serra/National Trust
Take a look at what the National Trust has on offer this summer Picture: Arnhel de Serra/National Trust

With acres of space to run and play, the National Trust has the perfect locations to have a go at some of its 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ activities, from hunting for bugs to going for a barefoot walk, rolling down hills or flying a kite. Here's what you could be getting up to on your staycation...

Chartwell, Westerham

Good for: Natural play areas, photography

All the family can have fun at the former home of Sir Winston Churchill, with woodland filled with natural play areas. You can also take on the photography challenge, or meet the bantam hens who live in Chickenham Palace in the Walled Garden. What are you waiting for? Grab your shoes and start your summer adventure.

Visits must be booked in advance via the website - you will be turned away if you arrive without a booking. The garden, shop and café are open, though the cafe is serving takeaway only. Details here.

There's plenty of open space to let off steam at Chartwell. Picture: Chris Lacey/National Trust
There's plenty of open space to let off steam at Chartwell. Picture: Chris Lacey/National Trust

Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst

Good for: Letting little imaginations run wild

With a ruined fairytale castle and a moat covered in lily pads, Scotney Castle is like something out of a children’s story. Make your own adventure among the plants and trees. There’s also a quarry garden with steps down into the magical sunken space.

Visits must be booked in advance via the website - you will be turned away if you arrive without a booking. The garden, estate, tea-room and kiosk are open, takeaway only. Details at the website here.

Scotney Castle gardens. Picture: John Millar/National Trust
Scotney Castle gardens. Picture: John Millar/National Trust

Emmetts Garden, Ide Hill, Sevenoaks

Good for: Messy play

Make the most of the sunshine and explosion of colour on an outing to Emmetts Garden where young visitors can go wild in the play area, reach new heights on the swings and enjoy the newly-added mud kitchen.

Visits need to be booked in advance via the website. The café is not open. Details here.

Ightham Mote, Borough Green

Step back in time in the grounds of this 700-year old manor house. There’s a moat to spot fish in, plenty of room to explore and make adventures in. Look out for the trail around the garden and different suggestions for 50 Things to do Before You’re 11 ¾ activities.

Facilities & Admission:Visits must be booked in advance via the website - you will be turned away if you arrive without a booking. The garden and café are open (takeaway only). Find out more here.

And just over the border...

Bodiam Castle, East Sussex

Best for photography

Spend some family time against an iconic backdrop and then capture the moment to keep. Spot the special messages around the grounds with tips on the best places to take a photo of the castle. There are also spotter sheets to guide you on your nature journey.

Visits must be booked in advance via the website - you will be turned away if you arrive without a booking. The grounds and Castle Café are open daily (takeaway only). The Wharf Tea Room is open at weekends. For details click here.

A family in the gardens at Scotney Castle. Picture: John MIllar/National Trust
A family in the gardens at Scotney Castle. Picture: John MIllar/National Trust

Bateman’s, East Sussex

Best for: Hide and seek, nature spotting

Some of the best-known children’s books - including The Jungle Book - were written at Batemans, inspired by the house and the landscape around. As Rudyard Kipling’s family home, the garden has a river running through it, hedges to hide behind and plenty of space to run around. Pick up a spotter sheets to see which creatures you can discover while you enjoy the secluded haven.

Visits must be booked in advance via the website. The gardens, estate and café are open, but are takeaway only. Details here.

Once you’re done exploring at your favourite National Trust spot, you can seek out the perfect spot to settle down for a picnic.

With all of the trust's sites at the moment, you’ll need to book admission in advance, but there’s plenty of mid-week availability. Every visit helps support the trust’s work as a charity to look after special places for the nation.

If you’re unable to visit, the website also has activities to try at home, from craft ideas to nature spotter guides, tips for creating a treasure map and colouring sheets. Click here to see what's on offer.

For more days out ideas across Kent click here.

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