Beach bell tents in Bedgebury Forest

The globe’s largest pinetum is a southern-Kent jewel of the High Weald AONB.

95% (80 reviews)
95% (80 reviews)

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Beach bell tents in Bedgebury Forest guide

Overview

Just southeast of Tunbridge Wells, in Kent’s southern folds, this forest takes in one of the most important conifer-tree collections in the world. Within bird-rich Bedgebury National Pinetum’s 350 acres—a Grade II listed landscape—glinting lakes sit among 12,000 trees with sweeping valley views, including 400-year-old English oak trees and towering California redwoods. As autumn takes hold, the forest turns a beautiful rusty red. Explore the walking, running, mountain biking, and cycling trails, head out on horseback, or tackle the kid-friendly treetop rope course before retreating to a nearby riverside campsite, a stylish glamping yurt, or a bell tent farmstay.

Where to go

High Weald AONB

White-chalk cliffs, medieval villages, ancient forests, snaking valleys, and windswept heathlands are just some of the many charms of the High Weald AONB, England’s fourth-biggest. This area extends for almost 580 square miles across Kent, Sussex, and Surrey, offering outstanding hiking, cycling, mountain biking, and horse riding opportunities. Pitch up at a low-key farm, a riverside park, or a beach-view caravan camp—otherwise, hunt down glamping yurts, safari tents, and shepherds’ huts in the hills.

Kent Downs AONB

From fragrant lavender fields to precariously perched escarpments, this swathe of back-to-nature Kent is all about dramatic views, and makes up one of the southeast’s major wildlife conservation spaces. Its 340 square miles of delightfully varied landscapes stretch from Dover’s white sea cliffs all the way to the Surrey border. The 164-mile-long North Downs Way is a highlight among its endlessly rewarding rambling paths.

The Kent Coast

Stretching from just north of lovely Rye (in East Sussex) to bohemian Margate, then west past Whitstable almost to London, Kent’s dazzling coastline is a favourite warm-weather playground—book well ahead! Hikers can tackle part of the long-distance England Coast Path where water sports abound, from sea kayaking around Ramsgate to tidal-pool swimming in Margate. Make a beeline for the wonderfully scenic Kent coastal campsites.

South Downs

While exploring the High Weald, don’t miss its spectacularly scenic neighbour, the 615-square-mile South Downs National Park, whose 1,864 miles of walking trails sweep across green-clad hills to chalk-dusted cliffs overlooking the English Channel. Hike along the South Downs Way, go paragliding, horse riding, or mountain-biking, and spot wildlife such as otters, owls, and skylarks.

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