7 autumn walks in Kent to delight the senses

View of the house and old castle ruins in autumn at Scotney Castle, Kent

View of the house and old castle ruins in autumn at Scotney Castle in Kent - Credit: ©National Trust Images / Jo Hatcher

Autumn is the perfect season to head outside for a sensory walk. See leaves turn a fiery orange, crunch them underfoot and inhale the crisp air tinged with the smokey smell of a distant bonfire.

For people with complex disabilities and those wanting to take a break and reconnect with nature, a sensory walk can help reduce anxiety and stress while keeping you active. 

Hemsted Forest

Hemsted Forest

Coarse bark, soft mushrooms, and the alluring earthy scent of woodlands are just some of the sensory highlights to be found at Hemsted Forest. And with a variety of tracks, both hard-stone surfaced, and less accessible paths, a meander around this forest is perfect for wheelchair users and those looking for something a little wilder. 

Where: Biddenden, Cranbrook TN17 3PB

When: Always open

Hadlow easy access trail

Hadlow Castle, Hadlow, Kent

Hadlow Tower is also called May's Folly locally. - Credit: Barry Marsh / Flickr (Public Domain)

Created by Explore Kent, this easy access trail will take you on a 1.2-mile circular walk around the Hadlow Tower and the fields and pond next to it. Take in the beautiful Gothic Revival tower while sitting by the pond, listening to all the sounds of nature and keeping your eyes peeled for wildlife. 

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Where: Hadlow Castle, High St, Hadlow, Tonbridge TN11 0EG

When: Always open

Chartwell

The house at Chartwell, Kent

The house at Chartwell, Kent - Credit: ©National Trust Images / Chris Jonas

Chartwell was Churchill's escape from the tough world of politics, and this National Trust property continues to provide a much-needed place to escape from the hustle and bustle of everyday life for many. This Autumn, from Saturday 16th October - Sunday 31st October between 10am and 4pm, there is the option to explore the Wartime Gardens trail for £2. Discover how the Gardiners kept everything ticking over during the war and have a go at gardening yourself too.

Other highlights include the beautiful 170-year-old Cryptomeria Japonica (Japanese Cedar) that grows above the Golden Orfe ponds and a large range of beech trees that can be found on the nearby Toys Hill.

Where: Mapleton Road, Westerham, Kent, TN16 1PS

When: Open daily, 10 am - 5.30 pm 

Blean Wildart Trail

Blean Woods-29

Kent Wildlife Trust’s Blean Wildart Trail is adorned with beautiful and sustainable wooden sculptures made from local materials along an all-access trail in Thornden Wood. This walk is all about touch. Feel the different textures from crisp leaves to velvety fungi and, of course, the carvings that will capture imaginations and provide a much-needed spot of sensory relaxation.

 Where: New Rd, Herne Bay CT6 7NZ

When: Always open

Scotney Castle 

The autumn at Scotney Castle, Kent. The medieval moated Old Scotney Castle lies in a peaceful wooded

The autumn at Scotney Castle, Kent. The medieval moated Old Scotney Castle lies in a peaceful wooded valley. A Victorian mansion also sits within the estate. - Credit: ©National Trust Images / John Miller

Scotney Castle's romantic ruins and expansive parkland is the perfect place for spotting autumn colour as the foliage come ablaze in all different shades of auburn. Collect your favourite leaves and explore the shape and delicate veins that run across them; bring paper and crayons for rubbings of the leaves and bark.

Head Gardener Natan Cointet says: “The beech avenue at Kilndown is breath-taking and can be visited by following our red marked estate walking route. My pick of the crop, though, has to be Liquidambar styraciflua tree, down by the boathouse in the garden, which makes a stunning photo opportunity.” 

Where: Lamberhurst, Tunbridge Wells TN3 8JN

When: Open daily, 10am to 5pm

Shorne Woods Country Park

Wooden sculptures and Autumn foliage can be found at Shorne Country Park in Shorne, Kent as part of the Kent Downs AONB

Wooden sculptures and plenty of Autumn colour can be found at Shorne Country Park in Shorne, Kent - Credit: ClemRutter / Wikimedia (CC BY-SA 4.0)

There is so much to see at Shorne Woods Country Park, from woodlands and meadows to beautifully crafted sculptures and a large pond full of fish. A great activity for kids and anyone looking for a sensory memento is to make a shaker. To do this, gather different objects from the walk like sticks, pebbles, leaves and anything that might make an interesting sound and put them in a glass jam jar; while adding items, you can discover how the sound changes.

Where: Brewers Rd, Shorne, Gravesend DA12 3HX

When: Open daily, 9am - dusk or 9pm (depending which comes first)

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens 

A view of the Elizabethan gatehouse tower from the autumnal gardens at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, K

A view of the Elizabethan gatehouse tower from the autumnal gardens at Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Kent - Credit: ©National Trust Images /James Dobson

Vita Sackville-West's famous garden is a safe haven full of sights, sounds, smells and textures that will tickle the senses throughout autumn. But perhaps the most magnificent thing to explore is the eye-catching and vibrant palette of fiery reds and golden yellows of the woodlands around the estate. 

Where: Biddenden Rd, Cranbrook TN17 2AB

When: Open daily, 11am - 5.30pm

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