Father’s Day fun in Kentish sun

The ruins of the fourteenth-century moated Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Kent, set amidst beautiful g

The ruins of the fourteenth-century moated Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst, Kent, set amidst beautiful gardens. - Credit: ©NTPL/John Miller

Enjoy a day out with Dad getting up close to nature in the National Trust’s many acres of park and woodland in Kent

Father’s Day falls this year on 21 June and one dad who will be taking full advantage of his special day is National Trust senior ranger Ross Wingfield.

When he is not working at Scotney Castle near Lamberhurst, Ross spends time with his two young children, Seth, four and Tabitha, two, teaching them the joys of getting up close to nature.

According to Ross, ask his children what they like doing best and they will answer, “watching cartoons!” But open the door and they’ll soon be drawn outside, looking for adventures in the back garden, such as building a fort, making mud pies, climbing trees and digging for treasure.

Ross, his wife and children try to get outdoors as often as possible, even if it is just to the local park to play on the swings.

“When we feel like getting ‘outdoorsy’ we’ll go camping or to Camber Sands and play in the dunes. We all really like the beach because it’s different to everyday places and has a real feeling of space. We also enjoy exploring the local woods and taking the dog for a walk along the river.”

Ross’ enthusiasm for fresh air and nature is crucial in his daily job. After a short walk into work from his home in Lamberhurst, his remit includes caring for a wide range of habitats and landscapes.

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That includes 770 acres of parkland, woodland, streams and rivers and the wildlife that calls the estate home. He also has two smaller properties to look after, Sprivers and Nap Woods.

Ross says: “I spent so much time playing out in the garden and woods when I was young that it’s still the first place I think of going if I need to relax or think. I want my little ones to feel the same way; I don’t want them to miss out on discovering nature. I take great pleasure in knowing that there’s a whole world out there to explore and that I’ve helped give them the tools to understand and enjoy it.”

This summer, Ross is keen to help Seth and Tabitha tick off some of the National Trust’s ‘50 Things To Do Before You’re 11 3/4’. He’s a big supporter of the campaign. “It’s great to see how many kids pick up a ‘50 Things’ sheets and say to their parents, ‘can we build a den, fly a kite or roll down a hill?’ You can see their eyes light up.

“As for us, star gazing is something we’ll do more of this summer, but we’ll also go bug hunting and pick fruit whenever we can. I always try and get the kids to hold a wiggly worm or spider if I find one!

“And something every dad should do with his family at least once is go camping in the wild. There’s no better way to understand the outdoors than to stay in it, and nowadays that doesn’t have to mean getting really cold and damp!

“Knowing about wildlife and how it interacts helps us see how everything is related to what we do and how we live on this planet. If children don’t have access to the countryside to learn what it’s all about, how can they understand its importance?”

Find out more

To discover more about Father’s Day events taking place at Scotney Castle and across Kent and the South East, please visit the National Trust’s website at www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast.

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