Spooky trails and ghostly tales with the National Trust

National Trust - little girl with pumpkin SUS-140922-150314001
National Trust - little girl with pumpkin SUS-140922-150314001

It’s that time of year when bonfires are burning, chills run down your spine and things go bump in the night – it must be Hallowe’en!

The atmospheric houses and large gardens of the National Trust are perfect locations for little horrors (as well as adults) over autumn half-term, with a variety of seasonal activities and Hallowe’en trails full of secrets and surprises.

Our places offer a feast for the senses at this time of the year. The woods are full of fallen leaves and twigs that crunch underfoot, the air smells of damp earth and wood smoke and our tea-rooms are tempting retreats with offers of warming soups, hearty casseroles and home-made cakes.

Kids can continue to take part in the 50 things to do before you’re 11¾ as many of the activities are perfect for autumn, such as building a den and collecting conkers. Visit www.nationaltrust.org.uk/50things for more information.

For an autumn treat in West Sussex this half-term, have a look at the highlights below, or check our website for further ideas and details - www.nationaltrust.org.uk/southeast

Petworth House and Park

Wild Ghost Chase family trail

Hector our friendly house ghost is lost in the Pleasure Grounds. This Hallowe’en, join the portraits of Petworth to piece together clues and discover where he might be. Find Hector before sunset and help him return to the house, where he looks after the secrets of Petworth’s Past.

27 October to 2 November, 10.30am – 4pm, £3. For more information, call 01798 342207

Witch craft?

You have been enrolled in the Petworth Sorcerer Academy to learn about all things enchanting. Come to our spellbinding sessions to craft magical creatures, create powerful potions and conjure spooky spells with your newly decorated wand. Collect your sorcerer’s certificate when you complete all magical tasks.

29 to 31 October, 11am - 12.30pm & 2 - 3.30pm, £5, book on 01798 342207

Three witches charity ball

A delightfully dark and decadent country house ball in the sensational state rooms of Petworth House. Summon fiendish friends and don dramatic costumes for an unforgettable evening of dining and dancing, inspired by the macabre and histrionic Macbeth and the Witches engraving, hanging in the Square Dining Room.

Festivities begin in the Chapel Courtyard, with a surprise display of flamboyance. A traditional ball supper then follows, alongside cabaret in the Carved Room and dancing ’til the witching hour to the sassy sounds of the Brighton-based Swing Ninjas.

Saturday 1 November, 7pm, carriages at midnight.

Tickets are £85 per person, to book please call 01798 342207


Spooky Nymans

Follow Willow the Wizard’s footsteps through the nooks and crannies of Nymans’ large garden, to help him make his spell. Watch out for hidden creatures as you creep round.

25 October to 2 November, 10.30am - 3.30pm, normal admission plus £2 per trail. Call 01444 405250 for more information.

Uppark House and Garden

Halloween at Uppark

There’s additional kids’ fun over half-term with Uppark’s scary Hallowe’en trails. Younger children can take the route around the gardens, whilst older children are invited to unravel Uppark’s mysterious murder mystery, which takes place in the tunnel beneath the house!

26 October – 2 November, 11am-5pm (closed Fri & Sat), normal admission charge plus £2.

Woolbeding Gardens

Hallowe’en trail of terror

Come prepared to be spooked as you follow a trail through the haunted Woolbeding Gardens. This creepy place is where spirits and ghouls gather, so test your bravery on this night before All Hallows’. The gardens make a spectacular setting for this Hallowe’en trail of terror, so bring your family and friends! Come in fancy dress for a really scary experience.

Parking signposted from Woolbeding Bridge off the A272 near Midhurst.

30 October, 5 – 7pm, adults £3, children £2, call 01730 716304 for more information.

Report and picture contributed by the National Trust.