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Ah, Kent. The garden of England.
We're really spoilt for choice when it comes to incredible National Trust days out in Kent. Magical castles, otherworldly park and woodland and beautifully landscaped grounds abound in the garden county.
Pack a picnic and head down to the enchanting manor houses and castles listed below. Many of these National Trust properties have children's quizzes and outdoor treasure hunts available at reception, and several have outdoor natural play installations. All the properties listed have gardens and some have extensive estates including working farms and bluebell woodlands where you can enjoy the beautiful scenery on bikes and scooters, with dogs in tow.
A visit to a National Trust property is an ideal family outdoor excursion and the heady mix of history and abundant nature is sure to fire-up young imaginations and kids' passion for the outdoors.
A 14th-century moated castle with 170 acres of parkland and woodland to explore as a family. With picnic areas in the woods, a tea-room with kids' menu, a wilderness camp and natural play area in the garden, Scotney Castle is a perfect destination for a child-orientated day-trip in an incredibly picturesque setting.
Where is it? Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells, Kent, TN3 8JB
How long does it take to get there from London? 1 hour 20 minutes drive
Is it buggy friendly? Yes
Is it dog-friendly? Yes, though not allowed into the castle itself you are free to explore acres of parkland with your dog.
Is it bike and scooter-friendly? Bikes and scooters not allowed in the garden, but fine to explore rest of the estate grounds.
Are there toilets? Yes, in the courtyard toilet block by the visitor reception.
Are there baby-changing facilities and disabled toilets? Yes - baby-changing facilities are in the disabled toilets.
Is there parking? Limited parking (130 yards). Best to get in there early!
What outdoor amenities are there? Walled garden, parkland and woodland, Badger and Pepper outdoor play area in a formal garden, picnic benches.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden
A 450-acre estate featuring a tower with incredible panoramic views and a working farm. Once home to Vita Sackville-West and her husband, the couple transformed the gardens into a multicolour world-renowned floral wonderland.
Where is it? Biddenden Road, near Cranbrook, Kent, TN17 2AB
How long does it take to get there from London? Around 2 hours.
Is it buggy friendly? No pushchairs in the formal garden but you can rent a baby back-carrier from reception.
Is it dog-friendly? Dogs on leads are welcome on the estate but not in the formal garden.
Is it bike and scooter-friendly? There is a picturesque bike trail from Staplehurst Station to Sissinghurst Place. At reception, you will be shown where to store your bikes. Scooters unlikely to be allowed on-site.
Are there toilets? Yes, at the ticket office and in the cafe.
Are there baby-changing facilities and disabled toilets? Yes.
Is there parking? Yes.
What outdoor amenities are there? Gardens, estate walks, working farm, orchard, woodland, lakes.
Ightham Mote is a 14th-century moated manor house and counts medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and wealthy Victorians among past owners. With a Grade 1 listed dog kennel, gardens, orchard, lakes, woodland trails and a renowned ancient bluebell woodland, there's more than enough to keep the family entertained over several trips!
Where is it? Mote Road, Ivy Hatch, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN15 0NT
How long does it take to get there from London? About an hour and a half by car.
Is it buggy friendly? There is a buggy-friendly route and the map detailing this route can be found at reception. Buggies not allowed in the house but baby-carriers available from the conservatory. You can leave your buggy in the buggy park on-site while you explore the house.
Is it dog-friendly? Assistance dogs only in house and garden, but dogs welcome in wider estate and woodland.
Is it bike and scooter-friendly? Bike racks are near reception. Bikes and scooters not allowed on site.
Are there toilets? Yes, by the cafe and by the shop.
Are there baby-changing facilities and disabled toilets?
Is there parking? Yes, there's a carpark on-site.
What outdoor amenities are there? Natural play area, woodland, estate walks, farmland.
Once home to the Victorian actress Ellen Terry, Smallhythe Place holds her theatre collection and is still home to a working theatre. Young thespians will be enthralled by the theatrical treasures on show in the house and the collection of lavish costumes Terry wore during her time at London's Lyceum Theatre. Outdoor attractions include the rose garden, orchard and nuttery.
Where is it? Smallhythe, Tenterden, Kent, TN30 7NG
How long does it take to get there from London? Around 2 hours by road.
Is it buggy friendly? Buggy-accessible garden.
Is it dog-friendly? Dogs on leads are welcome in the garden.
Is it bike and scooter-friendly? No.
Are there toilets? Yes, in the garden by the tea-room
Are there baby-changing facilities and disabled toilets? No baby-changing facilities.
Is there parking? Free parking near house and extra parking in nearby church carpark.
What outdoor amenities are there? Garden, picnic tables
Chartwell House was once Winston Churchill's family residence and was already part of the National Trust collection 18 years before Churchill's death. Churchill's family found the costs of managing such a large estate too high to manage by themselves so the National Trust took it over on the condition that Churchill and his wife be allowed to live there as long as they wanted.
Where is it? Mapleton Road, Westerham, Kent, TN16 1PS
How long does it take to get there from London? No time at all, less than half an hour by car.
Is it buggy friendly? Slings available for use inside the house and garden. Unsuitable terrain for buggies in the garden with narrow paths and lots of slopes. Fine for the wider estate.
Is it dog-friendly? Dogs on short leads are allowed into the gardens and are allowed off-lead in the wider estate.
Is it bike and scooter-friendly? No.
Are there toilets? Yes, the main toilet block is behind the shop, and there are more in the garden.
Are there baby-changing facilities and disabled toilets? Yes, baby-changing facilities available in the accessible toilets at the Visitor Centre and in the disabled toilets in the garden.
Is there parking? Yes, there is a carpark on-site.
What outdoor amenities are there? Two-storey treehouse, wild play area, swings, woodland trails, garden playhouse, gardens, lakes.
Situated in a medieval deer park, Knole was originally built as an archbishop's palace. It is currently the family home of the Sackville family and their magnificent 600-year-old estate covers acres of enchanting parkland, where wild deer still roam freely.
Where is it? Sevenoaks, Kent, TN15 0RP (Sat Nav TN13 1HX)
How long does it take to get there from London? 1 hour 30 mins by car
Is it buggy friendly? Slings available for touring the house. Some rough and sloping terrain in the garden could make taking a buggy around tricky.
Is it dog-friendly? Dogs on leads welcome in the park and courtyards. Assistance dogs allowed everywhere on the property.
Is it bike and scooter-friendly? Bikes and scooters welcome in the 1000-acre Knole parkland.
Are there toilets? Main toilet block located in the Green Court and conservation studio.
Are there baby-changing facilities and disabled toilets? Baby-changing facilities in the disabled toilet in the Porter's Lodge at the main house entrance. Accessible toilets also in the conservation studio.
Is there parking? Yes, carpark on site although it can get very busy. Additional parking in Sevenoaks.
What outdoor amenities are there? Picnic areas, extensive parkland, orangery, courtyards, gardens.
The name Emmett comes from the local word for ant and alludes to the great anthills once dotted all around the estate. Emmetts Garden is one of the highest points in Kent and visitors will marvel at the expansive views across the North Downs.
Where is it? Ide Hill, Sevenoaks, Kent, TN14 6BA
How long does it take to get there from London? Approximately 1 hour 20 minutes by car.
Is it buggy friendly? Yes
Is it dog-friendly? Dogs on short leads allowed in the gardens
Is it bike and scooter-friendly? No
Are there toilets? Main toilet block next to the tea room.
Are there baby-changing facilities and disabled toilets? Accessible toilets located in the visitor welcome centre. Baby-changing facilities are also available.
Is there parking? Free parking on-site
What outdoor amenities are there? Wild play area, picnic area, outdoor seating at the cafe, wildflower meadow, woodland walks, bluebell banks, gardens and trails.
Eleanor lives in Brighton with her three year old daughter. They are always on the lookout for new experiences and environments to explore and exciting new activities to do together. One of their favourite ways to spend an afternoon is the cinema, you will always find them queueing for popcorn the minute a new kids’ film is released! They love getting the train to London in search of new activities and great places to eat. Eleanor is also training as a complementary therapist in her (limited!) spare time and is very interested in the practice of mindfulness.