With its pristine countryside and picture-perfect villages, the beautiful Weald of Kent is a walker’s delight and so special that it’s designated an AONB
National Trust and Manu Palomeque
I n terms of maps and boundaries, the Weald of Kent is roughly the countryside from Tunbridge Wells to Lympne.
Once forming part of a huge ancient forest that crossed Kent, Sussex and
Surrey, the area has the historic country towns of Cranbrook and Tenterden at its heart, surrounded by chocolate box villages including Goudhurst, Hawkhurst, Wittersham, Woodchurch, Headcorn, Smarden, Sissinghurst, Pluckley and Bethersden. Best known for its pristine countryside and bountiful fruit production, it was also the home of the ancient iron industry and had a thriving woollen industry centred around Cranbrook.
These days the Weald is protected as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is enjoyed by tourists, walkers, cyclists and nature lovers. With a slower pace of life and a deep connection to its agricultural roots, the Weald of Kent is quintessential Darling Buds of May country.
It’s an area rich in visitor attractions too, with walkers particularly well catered for. Take a stroll through the forest or ride bikes at Bedgebury, walk around Bewl Water’s reservoir or combine a walk with history at the National Trust’s local properties.
Sissinghurst Castle was famously the home of writer and gardener Vita Sackville-West and still boasts one of the best gardens in the country, while Smallhythe Place near Tenterden was the home of Victorian actress Ellen Terry and houses her wonderful collection.
And stunning Scotney Castle in Lamberhurst is a real treat, with two historic homes to explore among impressive gardens and grounds.
Serious walkers can take on the entire High Weald Landscape Trail but at
145km, most will go for a shorter section. The 19-mile ‘red section’ leads the trail between Matfield and Rolvenden, taking in many of our pretty Wealden villages. Most have remained almost unchanged for hundreds of years and are best explored on foot.
Goudhurst is one of the prettiest and most desirable villages in the Weald and St Mary’s Church is a landmark that can be seen from miles around, sitting as it does at the highest point. Its tower is open to the public most weekend afternoons between Easter and mid-July and offers one of
Garden volunteers at Scotney Castle