Other Attractions: Exploring the Ightham Mote Estate
Ightham Mote is more than just a manor home. Venture out the front door, and you’ll find plenty more to discover, from colorful gardens to gentle cascades. With over 546 acres, there’s always something new to see and explore at the estate.
Venturing Outside Ightham Mote: What to See and Explore
With steep valleys and stunning plateau hilltops, the estate’s landscape is a feast for the eyes. Woodlands sit atop the hills, while the steep valleys give the manor a reclusive feel. There’s plenty to see on your trip to the estate. In fact, you could make an entire afternoon of exploring the manor grounds.
Woodlands and Farmland
The woods are a living, breathing part of the Ightham Estate, with something new to see each time you visit. From butterflies to wildflowers, badgers and deer, a walk through the woodlands is an adventure all its own.
Campion, bluebells and rosebay willowherb carpet the forest floor, where beech, oak and sweet chestnut trees grow.
Coppicing is used to manage the woodland, where trees are cut down periodically to allow more light in. The trees regrow in time, but the added light allows wildflowers to grow and butterflies to flourish. Wood from the cut trees is used for buildings, fencing, hop poles and even fuel.
Approximately 350 of the estate’s 546 acres is farmland. At one time, the land was used to support the manor. Today, the farmland is being worked by a tenant farmer.
The estate’s public footpaths follow both new and ancient routes, allowing you to explore the beauty of the Kent countryside.
There are several waymarked routes on the estate:
A great beginner trail that starts at the top of the drive and follows a downhill path. The trail takes you in a circular route along the Scathes Wood, where you’re sure to see wildflowers in the spring and summer, including campion and bluebells. Be on the lookout for woodpeckers and pheasants, too.
The path spans 1.4 miles (2.25kms), and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
The Red Walk
Another circular, gentle route on relatively level ground. The northern section of the trail borders on the Scathes Woods, while the eastern region takes you just past the Mote Café, car park and garden area.
On your journey, be on the lookout for woodpeckers, kestrels and long tailed tits. Wildflowers grow in abundance here, which are a sight all their own in the spring and summer.
The Red Walk spans 1.2 miles (2kms) and takes approximately 30 minutes to complete.
The Green Walk
A physically challenging path, the Green Walk is not suitable for small children and buggies. If you’re up for the challenge, the sights are well worth the effort.
The path takes you past the hoppers huts, where families from London would stay during hop picking season in September. Stroll past the stream in Dinas Dene and stay awhile to enjoy the peaceful sounds of the water.
Stop at Wilmot cottage, which was formally a smithy and an Inn. Oast houses can also be found on the path, which were used for dying hops to flavor beer.
You’re sure to see plenty of wildlife, too, including buzzards and blackcap.
The trail spans 2.5 miles (4kms) and takes about one hour to complete.
While the woodland and footpaths offer something special to visitors, the gardens are the star of the show. Nestled in the foot of the valley, the manor’s gardens span 14 acres with stunning water features all throughout.
The North Lawn
Offering breathtaking views of the home, the north lawn features a cascade from the 18th century and terraced walks along each side.
On the western edge of the north lawn is an herbaceous border that separates the garden from the orchard. From July all the way through late fall, the border offers a stunning display of flowers.
A secluded, paved garden is hidden behind high walls, where fountains and pools create a relaxing, tranquil place to rest. The cherub fountain takes center stage amidst a sea of colorful foliage.
The cutting garden was once home to Victorian sunken glass houses. A high hedge surrounds the garden, which provides the home with fresh flowers as well as fresh fruits and vegetables for the café.
The Formal Garden & The Pleasure Grounds
The site of the formal garden has undergone many changes throughout history. It was formerly an Italianate garden, but was then transformed to a rose garden. Today, the garden features formal bedding displays that are changed twice per year by the gardening team. Situated along the north end of the garden, the pleasure grounds feature a lake, stream, trees and informal lawns.The “lost garden” can also be found at the south lake, but is only accessible to those on guided tours.