There is something special about walking at dawn, especially when you find yourself in surroundings that are as beautiful as Sissinghurst Castle Estate which opens its gates for visitors from dawn till dusk. It was a crisp Sunday morning when we found ourselves on the 450 acres estate, less than two hours drive away from London. It was a rather spontaneous decision to stop and visit the estate on our way back home.
We had already marvelled at the beauty of Kent with its bluebell covered woodlands before we decided to make the most of an incredibly beautiful morning and go for a walk around Sissinghurst castle.
The gate to the estate was just about to open when we were greeted by a family of sheep on a frost covered meadow.
Sissinghurst Castle Estate is located in the picturesque Weald of Kent. Once a Saxon pig farm, a prison in the 1700s, home to the women’s land army and a family home, it became a National Trust property in 1967.
The Elizabethan tower (above left) was originally built as an observation point for hunting, however, the main attraction of Sissinghurst castle is the world renowned Sissinghurst garden, created by the English diplomat and author Sir Harold Nicolson and his wife, the English poet, novelist, and garden designer, Vita Sackville-West during the time they lived there. The garden itself was not open at such early hours so we only managed to get a little glimpse of it (above right).
Perched over the edge of the moat is a lovely little building called the gazebo which was built by Nigel Nicolson as a memoir to his father Sir Harold Nicolson. Nigel used it as a writing room during the summer months where he wrote his famous book ‘Portrait of a Marriage’ in which he describes the open marriage of his parents. It was turned into a four-part British mini series in 1990.
After a short and peaceful stroll along the moat and through green open space we reached the two lakes of the estate.
Mist still covered one of the lakes.
The constantly changing light, reflected in the mist, created an almost mystical and very peaceful atmosphere – something that can only be experienced shortly after sunrise.
Passing the two lakes and a little stream we entered some woodland covered with bluebells that are so typical of this time of the year.
Even with the garden still closed it was an absolute pleasure to visit the estate.
The views of the classic Weald countryside, the ground and garden must have been magnificent from this bird’s eye view.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden Biddenden Rd, Cranbrook, Kent TN17 2AB