BEFORE we close the doors until February half-term the team are busy preparing to welcome the last, but certainly important visitors.

With presents wrapped under the tree, a chair carefully positioned by the grand fireplace in the Great Hall and garland hung down the banister of the staircase, it can only mean one thing… that children need to listen to see if they can hear the footsteps of Father Christmas on the floor above.

The Great Barn is set with hay bales and blankets, ready to welcome visitors of all ages to hear the traditional story of ‘The Night Before Christmas’ before making their way to the Great Hall for festive fun and to meet the man himself.

Finish off your seasonal visit by filling your lungs full of fresh cold air and enjoy a trail in the sleeping gardens. Booking is essential for this event. Please visit eastriddlesden/

It’s easy to find reasons not to get outside over winter – so challenge yourself to find beauty at a time of year when nature could easily be overlooked. Plant life is sleeping, recharging the batteries for the explosion of colour that ignites the landscape in late spring.

Wrap up, get outside and breathe in the air that can at times burn your lungs. The outline of trees create a stark contrast against the landscape, shapes and forms are clear and frost can transform even the most simplest of things into something magical.

Add snow and the guessing game of what lies beneath begins. The blackened stone of East Riddlesden Hall creates drama, while old walls clothed with ivy bring a rich green to an otherwise simple colour palate.

The fields and meadows still pull many a walker in – perhaps it’s the simple bareness or the fact the river is truly exposed at this time of year making wildlife more visible. Pull on those wellington boots, embrace the mud, the wet, the wind and enjoy being at one with the elements.

While the hall is closed the fields and meadows are still accessible for the community to enjoy.

In February we are looking to work with the local community to plant a willow tunnel, which once established will offer any visitor the chance to participate in creating a legacy for years to come.

Half-term will provide the perfect opportunity for families to come together and work closely with nature. Dress for the weather, wrap up warm, pull on those wellies and get your hands dirty! Please look at our website for further details.

Finally from the National Trust team at East Riddlesden Hall, we would like to thank all of you who have visited and volunteered.

The conservation work that goes on behind the scenes could not happen without your contributions. The sale of scones and tea means that stitches in historic tapestry can be repaired. Floors can be waxed thanks to memberships. Leaks can be fixed from purchases in the shop.

Please come and visit us in 2017 and enjoy playing your part in the history of this former agricultural estate.