Sharing Heritage & Nature: the great outdoors!

Floral gardens, waters, castle ruins and forests all hold secrets about our local heritage…

© National Trust/John Millar - Children enjoying the nature of Arlington Court in Devon last year.

With over 224 Natural Nature Reserves and 33 Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty in England alone, there is an abundance of natural heritage to be explored. This year Heritage Open Days are celebrating this under the common theme, Heritage and Nature. With so many local organisers offering events to share their ‘natural habitat’, we have put together a list of highlights to show you the great outdoors this September! 

Cockermouth Castle

Explore these castle ruins and formal gardens, set just north of the Lake District, in a wonderful guided tour. The Normans built the first castle in the 12th century, and it played a significant role in both the Wars of the Roses and Civil War, before being dismantled by Cromwell’s parliament. Not normally open to the public, this is a rare chance to explore the heritage of these castle gardens. 

Pewsey Downs

A striking feature of the Wiltshire countryside, the heritage tour of Pewsey Downs leads through the wonders of the West Country. Marvel at the iconic ‘Alton Barnes White Horse’ chalked into the hillside, learn about Natural England’s work in managing these sites and enjoy superb views of Salisbury Plain, Silbury and Knapp Hills.  

Esrick Duck Decoy

Discover the important history of Victorian Duck Decoys in the heart of a nature reserve. Natural England’s preservation and restoration of this site has involved working with present owners, Escrick Park Estate, local community groups and volunteers.  Excitingly, you can meet Ruby- a Nova Scotia dog Tolling Retriever and watch as she re-enacts scenes for the first time in 200 years!

The Secret Forest

Rather magically named and situated in the Forest of Dean, this 180 million year old forest allows you to explore nature near the Welsh/English border this autumn. The winding paths will lead you through rare plants, shimmering leaves and a replica Iron Age village situated inside the forest itself.

Kett’s Heights

Considered one of Norwich’s best kept secrets, the steps through the woodland area leads to the top of a hill offering panoramic views of the city. A fascinating guided tour will delve into Kett’s Heights history, explore sites from the medieval ruined chapel and tell the story of Kett’s rebellion of the 1500s. 

Image credit to Michael Button- The panoramic view over Norwich from Kett’s Heights, reached through a history-filled woodland walk.

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