They say you don’t know what you’ve got ‘til it’s gone… I now really value and appreciate those little things that we usually take for granted, particularly because of the pandemic that is affecting the world at the current time. I honestly didn’t realise how much I have missed jumping into the car and jaunting off for a wonderful day out on a whim. I think the last four months have just been an emotional whirlwind with all that’s been going on and we have just been forced to gracefully accept that places of interest, visitor attractions, gardens, restaurants and pubs were all going to be closed until further notice.
It’s probably common knowledge that the National Trust re-opened their gardens a little while ago but I was a little too apprehensive to visit immediately. If I’m honest I’ve been avoiding supermarkets and anywhere else that people are likely to be frequenting, like the plague (no pun intended) and only last week was brave enough to visit a local garden centre. How glad am I that I bit the bullet, especially as it led to an enjoyable afternoon of gardening and planting – I think the garden was pretty thankful too. Subsequently with shops and pubs now opening up again, it felt like the time was right to consider visiting one of our much loved National Trust treasures again.
Our usual haunt is Chartwell but we decided we should be a little bit more adventurous and venture a little further afield. Looking at the National Trust website for gardens that are dog friendly we made the decision to visit Scotney Castle in Kent, as we have never been there before. Scotney Castle is situated in the pretty village of Lamberhurst, close to Tunbridge Wells.
We are members of the National Trust and usually a visit can be made on the spur of the moment, however to ensure social distancing it is now necessary to book a timed slot. Unsurprisingly many time slots were already booked but 11.30am – 12.00 pm today (Thursday) was available and although the weather forecast for the day was actually pretty bleak, I felt so eager to actually go out somewhere that I wouldn’t have cared too much had it been hailing!
In the National Trust handbook, Scotney castle is described beautifully as follows:
The medieval moated Old Scotney Castle lies in a peaceful wooded valley. In the 19th century its owner, Edward Hussey III, set about building a new house, partially demolishing the old castle to create a romantic folly, the centrepiece of his picturesque landscape. From the terraces of the new house, sweeps of rhododendrons and azaleas cascade down the slope in summer, followed by highlights of autumn leaf colour, mirrored in the moat. In the house three generations have made their mark, adding possessions and character to the homely Victorian mansion which enjoys far-reaching views out across the estate.
You can find out more about Scotney Castle and the facilities available on the National Trust website.
I was happy to note on arrival that a one way system has been put in place to enable all the visitors to walk around the garden avoiding social contact with others – actually this was particularly helpful for us as we hadn’t visit before so at least we had a route to follow! We were accompanied by our two springers, who needed to be kept on leads, and we really enjoyed strolling around the grounds at our leisure. It was really simple to follow the route and there were a couple of options where you could go a little off track if you wished to.
It honestly was so lovely to actually be out somewhere, I can’t believe how much I had missed enjoying a day out, I guess we just go with the flow don’t we and obey the rules for the ‘new normal.’ I am really trying hard to improve my photography skills and there were some stunning flowers, plants and scenery to capture with my phone. I am still learning so please be kind!
There were certain areas that aren’t open yet, such as the walled garden, the house and the castle. A map is available showing the closed sections. Personally for me it was disappointing that the walled garden wasn’t open – I absolutely adore a walled garden, don’t you? However I am certain that the National Trust have made that decision for good reason. Several people were queuing outside the gift shop so we didn’t venture in, choosing instead to sit on a lovely old stone bench with a bottle of delicious Sicilian lemonade. I didn’t see the Tea Room, this may have been inside the shop building but as a cautious adventurer I was not in too much of a hurry to sit inside.
Importantly I felt so safe whilst there and for a couple of hours we were able to appreciate and acknowledge our love of nature, almost forgetting the pandemic that is currently sweeping the nation.
What you need to know:
- You can find out more about Scotney Castle on the National Trust website
- You need to pre-book your ticket before 3pm on the day that you intend to visit.
- Scotney Castle is located in Lamberhurst, fairly near to Tunbridge Wells, Kent and accessed and signposted from the A21.
- Sandwiches and refreshments are available for purchase during your visit.
- There are toilets available for your use.
- Dogs are welcome but they do have to be kept on a lead whilst walking around the estate.
- There are speed bumps along the main drive leading to the car park.