at Matfield, The Three Chimneys at Biddenden, The Bull at Benenden and the fabulous new The Small Holding in Kilndown. For a special occasion, try the Michelin-starred West House in Biddenden.
PROTECTING THE LANDSCAPE
Emma White (front row, third from left) from the High Weald AONB Partnership tells us about their important work.
“The High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is a breathtaking medieval landscape covering parts of Kent, Sussex and Surrey, covering 1,641km². Like the rest of the High Weald, the Kentish part of the landscape is characterised by medieval farmsteads, abundant ancient woodland, gill streams, sunken routeways, irregularly shaped small fields and rolling hills.
Our Partnership leads on a wide range of activities to help conserve this precious landscape, working with landowners, communities and partners such as The Woodland Trust, Forestry Commission, RSPB, Environment Agency and DEFRA.
Whether it’s running practical training courses to help farmers create and manage new species-rich habitats, helping landowners and community groups access funding for conservation projects, advising local authorities on planning applications or working with primary schools through our High Weald Heroes education programme – no two days are the same!
Getting out into the countryside for a walk is the best way to experience the We are Andrew and Kate and we own Heath Stores, the village shop in Horsmonden. Heath Stores was built in the 1680s as a draper’s shop and has changed uses a number of times.
When we took over in 2011 the shop was quite tired so we refitted it and have seen huge growth since then. It’s now a fusion between a farm shop and a convenience store.
Our aim is to have everything you need and a lot of things you didn’t know you needed! We have an extensive range of local foods, fruit and vegetables, as well as artisan products and a Fairtrade range, not to mention our own Heath Stores Ham – still cooked on the premises to a recipe that we know goes back to at least the 1950s.
Our deli is very popular and we are able to make bespoke hampers, which are especially popular at Christmas. There is area; you can visit our website for lots of easy, short routes to try. You can also download resources such as nature spotter sheets to get the whole family involved.
If you are a landowner with more than one acre we offer a free advisory visit.
We bring historic maps of your property to show its development over time, help you identify its historic and wildlife features and suggest ways to look after these features.”
Visit www.highweald.org an outreach Post Office that visits three times a week and we provide a delivery service too.
We have won numerous awards, including industry awards for Community Retailer of the Year. We won the Rural Oscar in 2015 in the Countryside Alliance awards as the Daily Telegraph British Village Shop of the Year. Last year we were Best Independent Retailer in Kent Life’s Food and Drink Awards.
Horsmonden is a traditional village community; there are a lot of social activities and people look out for each other. It is very much a gateway to the Weald and from parts of the parish there are wonderful views across to the Greensand Ridge and also to Goudhurst and Brenchley.
Taking the dogs for a walk through Scotney Castle estate is lovely. We love doing a round walk that starts and finishes at Kilndown as afterwards you can have a fabulous meal at the new restaurant there, The Small Holding. Bedgebury is another great place to visit. We can hire bikes and tackle the red run, or just enjoy a quiet walk in the woods. And the best beer festival, we think, is at the Halfway House in Brenchley on Bank Holidays in May and August.
ABOVE: The High Weald AONB Partnership team outside their headquarters in Kilndown