On our recent bank holiday National Trust bonanza (who knew there were so many National Trust properties in Kent?!) we squeezed in an extra trip to Scotney Castle. South-east of Lamberhurst in Kent, Scotney Castle is home to not just one but two houses, including the lovely moated castle itself and has some very pretty gardens. In late May when we visited the gardens were particularly spectacular as all the Rhododendrons and Azaleas were in flower, creating huge splashes of colour across the landscape.
The main house at Scotney Castle was built in the early 19th century to replace Old Scotney Castle. The more romantic and to me the more appealing of the two buildings, Old Scotney Castle is the remains of a 14th century moated medaival manor house believed to originally have belonged to the Scoteni family from whom it takes its name. Whilst fairly compact, the castle and its location, surrounded by a dreamy moat and backed by a hillside of rhododendrons and beautiful gardens, is hard to beat. Take time to wander around the moat-side paths for views from every angle and there are plenty of ducks and geese for little ones to spot on the lawns by the castle ruins.
The grounds themselves are very lovely but will take a bit of effort if you are pushing a pushchair. Downhill is fine although one of those wrist straps might come in handy but it’s the way back up that is more taxing. Fortunately, with so many lovely features of the garden to appreciate you have every excuse to take it slow! Also, it’s worth ditching the pushchair for a few minutes to explore the quarry garden or better still, bring baby in a sling or backpack.
There is not as much to do in the way of the more obvious children’s entertainment at Scotney Castle and the formal gardens themselves will appeal perhaps more to the adults in the group. Having said that, the castle is pretty exciting and children will be fascinated by the ice house which is still very much demonstrating its powers as a fridge! On the wider estate there is plenty for junior visitors to do. Those bagging items on their ’50 things to do before you are 11 3/4 list‘ might like to borrow the gps devices from the National Trust to hunt down the two geocache locations on the estate and with 770 acres to explore they can run wild. There is a pushchair friendly kids activity trail through the estate, picnicking is possible wherever you choose and den building is actively encouraged.
As with any National Trust property there is a good cafe at Scotney Castle. It was very busy when we visited – both entry to the castle and the cafe entailed fairly long queues but it is worth knowing that the shop also sells ice-creams so if it’s a scorching hot day and you fancy skipping the main cafe wait then head to the shop instead. I can recommend the local ice-cream mini-tubs! Admission to the whole estate for non-members costs £13 for adults and £6.50 for children but you can wander around the gardens and visit Old Scotney Castle for less – £8.20 for adults, £4.10 for a child. Of course if you already have National Trust Memberships (and in this area of the world with so many properties it is well worth considering) then you get in free.
For more information on visiting Scotney Castle, please visit the National Trust Scotney Castle website.