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Take a winter walk at a local National Trust property
6:00am Friday 20th December 2013 in Leisure News
MANY of the county’s National Trust gardens and countryside spaces are open in mid-winter, offering the perfect opportunity for walks in picture-postcard landscapes.
So, wrap up warm and experience some outdoor delights, from avenues of frost-covered topiary, and borders packed with sensational scent and colour, to ice-rimmed lakes and breath-taking vistas.
This former 13th-century priory sits on the banks of the famous River Test chalk stream, in acres of garden, woods and parkland. Enjoy the estate at your own pace and choose from several estate walks, including one that encompasses the woodlands, river and village. Pick up a trail sheet at Mottisfont’s Visitor Reception.
There are children’s trails too, which take kids into all sorts of garden nooks and crannies. Mottisfont’s special Christmas trail (with fun tasks to complete) is available until January 5.
From Boxing Day, you can also explore 1,600 acres of newly opened Hinton Ampner estate, with dog-friendly walks through glorious woodland beech avenues, and stunning views over the South Downs. This is also an excellent starting point for other routes such as the Wayfarer’s Walk.
If the ancient trees in Hinton Ampner’s historic parkland could talk, they would tell of Civil War battles, war time evacuees, and ghostly hauntings. The trees span all the centuries of inhabited life at Hinton, and a downloadable 45 minute trail (available online) delves into some of their amazing stories.
Discover trees that have been there since Tudor times, hug the huge gnarled oak that overlooked the battlefield of the Battle of Cheriton in 1644, and find out why the Victorians filled some of the parkland’s oaks with concrete, still seen today.
Although it’s chilly out there, new life is stirring in these gardens in winter, so there’s plenty to see and enjoy. Keep an eye out for some floral gems, such as delicate yellow winter aconites and pink vibernum, reminding us of the delights of spring to come. Look up into the trees to witness a traditional sight – great clusters of mistletoe decked with pearl-like berries. Winter is also a great time to indulge the olfactory senses, and visitors to The Vyne can enjoy delicious fragrance from flowering daphne and mahonia.
Two guided walks on January 4 take visitors back in time. Choose from the longer Steps Through Time walk that explores aspects of The Vyne’s history, and a shorter family walk that delves into the world of animal tracks.
Booking is essential from 01256 883858. Normal admission applies, plus a £2 donation.
The Vyne’s downloadable nature discovery trail encourages children to look for and identify plants and outdoor ‘residents’, including swans, hens and fish.
Circular walking routes at The Vyne take in woods, meadows, and the impressive lake; don’t forget to nip into the cosy bird hide to check out some of the lake’s winter visitors.
For a winter challenge, set out on an adventure with The Vyne’s free geocaching course, and discover hidden treasure using a handheld GSP device.
Find out more online at nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast.