National Trust attractions open for business this winter

PUBLISHED: 15:54 24 November 2011 | UPDATED: 16:21 20 February 2013

Matthew Tyler-Jones, regional visitor experience manager at the National Trust, explains what we can look forward to this winter

Originally published in Surrey Life magazine November 2009

This month, Matthew Tyler-Jones, regional visitor experience manager at the National Trust, explains what we can look forward to this winter

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It is a common misconception that as the leaves start to fall, so we at the National Trust go into some kind of hibernation until the spring. But the truth is that we remain as busy as ever during the colder months and we certainly dont shut up shop completely.

While many of our houses do close their doors so the conservation teams can prepare for winter, there is still plenty to see and do around the county.

At Clandon Park, near Guildford, for instance, the gift shop and restaurant remain open on selected days during the week. Also, anyone interested in the process of shutting the house for winter can come and spy on our teams hard work during three special Putting the House to Bed days on November 8, 15 and 22. Theyre free of charge, once normal admission has been paid, and theres no need to book.

Down the road at Hatchlands Park, the shop and restaurant will open specially for two festive evening concerts on December 5 and 6 (tickets cost 16 and must be pre-booked on 0844 249 1895), and the wider estate remains open all year round for brisk winter walks.

Claremont Landscape Garden in Esher is another great place to enjoy the great outdoors, and is open every day in November and December, except Mondays and Christmas Day. The tea room also serves hot drinks and snacks every day, except Mondays and Tuesdays, until December 20.

Seasonal strolls
There are plenty of options for walking at Polesden Lacey, near Dorking, too, with both the wider estate and gardens available for those wanting to get out of the house. Polesden Laceys gift shop, restaurant and farm shop are also open all year round for excellent quality seasonal fare and a superb choice of Christmas cards and gifts (garden, restaurant and farm shop closed December 24 and 25; gift shop closed December 24 to 26). Visitors can also watch the team prepare the house for winter during two Putting the House to Bed days on November 11 and 12 (tickets cost 12 and must be pre-booked on 01372 452048).

Also, dont forget that the National Trust looks after plenty of countryside areas in Surrey that never close to the public, whatever the season. The spectacular Winkworth Arboretum in Godalming comes into its own during the autumn, displaying stunning seasonal colours, quickly followed by intriguing views of skeletal branches against wintery skies. The tea room serves some of the best chocolate brownies in the area and is open all week from October 5 to November 15 and then again from December 26 to January 3. Leith Hill and Box Hill, with their far-reaching views, also remain favourites of many visitors when other attractions close for the winter. In addition, walkers can enjoy snacks and drinks at the servery on Box Hill all year round (except December 25) and watch out for our special Christmas sandwiches in December!

Finally, for those of us who love to don coats, scarves and boots and get right into the heart of the countryside even during the winter, there are few places in Surrey lovelier than Ranmore Common, Denbies Hillside and the Devils Punch Bowl near Hindhead the latter having the added bonus of offering the only National Trust tea room to serve a full English breakfast!

We hope that lots of people will be lured away from their centrally-heated houses and the commercial excess of the run-up to Christmas to come and spend some time with nature this month.

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