Brilliant bluebell walks – with pub pitstops!
Blooming ‘eck! Bluebells are popping up in their thousands across Kent. Here’s where to find the best of them, plus our pick of nearby pubs for a cheeky pitstop.
Spring is in the air, and isn’t it gorgeous! We’re so lucky to have the most incredible number of bluebell woods in our area, so there are loads of options to get your fix of the little blue fellas. Here are 14 of the best hotspots to visit now.
The Walk: Hever Castle (named best family day out at the UK Heritage Awards) is opening up a new part of estate and will include a gorgeous Bluebell walk for first time this year. The gates to Park Wood, part of the Hever Castle estate will be open for visitors for the first time. The gates to Park Wood will remain open throughout the bluebell season.
Eat After: Hever itself offers a decent selection of eateries from light bites and fine dining – but if you want to head to a local pub there’s King Henry VIII just opposite Hever itself, or a 2 minute drive away is The Wheatsheaf at Bough Beech.
Hole Park, nr Cranbrook
The Walk: Hole Park is a super pretty, privately owned 15-acre garden set within 200 acres of gorgeous parkland. In late April and early May the woodland is carpeted in a sea of deliciously scented bluebells, and in the garden there are other spring joys in flower, including magnolia, camellia, wisteria, wild garlic and tulips (for flower fans). Drink in the colour and the scent, and gaze at glorious views over the Kentish Weald.
Eat after: There’s a few good pubs dotted around the Benenden and Rolvenden area, but you can’t go wrong with The Three Chimneys if you’re after a pub with food that’s as awesome as its setting. It’s a 15 minute drive from Hole Park and a popular dining pub with wonderful pockets of outside space – like a spacious beer garden with rural views or a sun-trap terrace.
Riverhill Himalayan Gardens, Sevenoaks
The Walk: The Bluebell Festival is on at Riverhill Weds 20 April – Mon 2 May, and involves a fabulous bluebell-inspired craft fair with a wonderful selection of handmade cards, quilting, jewellery, original art works and much more. Visit this fab family-friendly garden to admire the bluebells and stretch your legs with a scenic walk. A great place to hang out with the family – and dogs are welcome too!
Eat after: The George and Dragon, Chipstead – just head back to the A21 and follow it around Sevenoaks to Chipstead to this great gastropub, complete with cute little beer garden.
Mariners Hill, nr Edenbridge
The Walk: With panoramic views of the Weald, Mariners Hill near Edenbridge is a fantastic spot to enjoy a good walk or just admire the surrounding countryside. Enjoy short circular strolls or join the Greensand Way, which runs along the hill’s northern boundary. Beautiful Hever Castle or Chartwell (home of Sir Winston Churchill) are close by if you’re having one of your culture vulture days – or you just want to take the mudlets to a great outdoor play area – we love the Tudor Towers adventure playground at Hever.
Eat after: Head over to The Wheatsheaf at Bough Beech an age-old watering hole (dates back to the 14th century – fact fans) offering modern British dishes. With the gorgeous combination of Georgian high ceilings and Tudor beams the dining space evokes a by-gone era. Plus a large garden, make sure you book ahead.
Sissinghurst Castle Garden, Sissinghurst
The Walk: Did you know over half the entire world’s population of bluebells blossom on UK shores? Making Britain’s beautiful blue spring a quintessential part of our native landscape. And over half of the 150 acre woodlands at Sissinghurst Castle Garden are packed with a wonderful carpet, and the air filled with that fresh and heady scent at this time of year. Enjoy the bluebells and don’t forget your takeaway hot drinks and snacks from the Granary Restaurant.
Eat after: If it’s more than a tea you’re after head to The Milk House only 5 minutes drive away back into Sissinghurst. This stylish pub, right in the middle of the picturesque village, serves excellent food, including wood-fired pizzas and an outside bar. It’s great garden space is the perfect place to off-load the Mudlets.
Hamstreet Woods, nr Ashford
The Walk: The ancient woodland around the village of Hamstreet is another SSSI (Site of Special Scientific Interest, but you knew that this time, right?). In spring, carpets of bluebells and wood anemones bloom, and wildlife abounds. There are various marked trails (of up to 5 km) or, if you fancy a longer stroll, pick up the Saxon Shore Way or the Greensand Way, which both run through here. 16th-century house and cottage gardens, Smallhythe Place is also a short drive away which has beautiful pockets of bluebells and new spring bulbs.
Eat after: Try the Woolpack, Warehorne, a pretty part-weatherboarded 16th century dining pub now under same ownership as the team behind Rocksalt Restaurant, The Wife of Bath in Wye and The Duke William in Ickham. Enjoy the lovely garden for now with their local ales and popular food. Make sure to head back to see their revamped interior with beams, an inglenook fire and lots of quirky touches. Children and dogs welcome, five stylish bedrooms too should you fancy a stay.
Ightham Mote, nr Sevenoaks
The Walk: Whether your furry friend wants a gentle walk through sheltered woodland or a more strenuous climb with fantastic views, they have some great way-marked routes on Ightham’s 500-acre estate. Plenty of treats and drinks to be had in the Mote Cafe. The bluebells in Scathes Wood on the Ightham Mote estate are a sight not to be missed. Not only do they provide a delightful splash of colour, but they’re also an important early source of nectar for bees, butterflies and other insects.
Eat after: A short drive away Plaxtol has a decent country pub in the Papermaker’s Arms.
Emmetts Garden, Ide Hill
The Walk: Every spring the floors of the woodland at Emmetts are transformed into a spectacular carpet of blue as the English native bluebells come into bloom. A great place to take the family for a stroll and a visit to the beautiful gardens followed by a picnic or trip to the cafe.
Alternatively, you can always park at nearby Toys Hill with it’s own National Trust car park and enjoy one of the walks from there. Toys Hill links up with the Emmetts Garden woodland, so you won’t miss out on any of the bluebells.
Eat after: Visit the Cock Inn. A pretty village pub, with outdoor seating overlooking the Ide Hill village green offering traditional pub food, home made pies and cask ales.
Scotney Castle, Lamberhurst
The Walk: As the weather warms up and the days become longer, the bluebells start to appear all around Scotney Castle, from the drive to the formal garden to the outer reaches of the estate. With over 780 acres to explore and dog friendly scenic walks Scotney is definitely one to visit this Spring.
Eat after: A Muddy favourite, The Vineyard at Lamberhurst Down is the perfect place to rest up and refuel after a bracing walk at Scotney. Set just off the village green, there’s something for all the family on the menu. We recommend the Artisan wood-fired sourdough pizzas and excellent wine selection, yum!
Trosley Country Park
The Walk: Enjoy exploring Trosley Park’s 170 acres of beautiful woodland and chalk downland. With spectacular views over the North Downs, a café that serves delicious homemade food, and a woodland play area for kids, the park is the perfect place to admire the bluebells and have a great day out.
Eat after: 3mins down the road is Bowley’s At The Plough, a real foodie punch. Expect expect Michelin-esque food with exquisite attention to detail, all wrap up in an incredibly laid-back feel to the pub. Whether you are after a relaxing coffee and cake, or an amazing five course tasting menu with delicious wine, The Plough is well worth a visit.
Bedgebury Pinetum, nr Goudhurst
The Walk: The National Pinetum is home to a world-leading collection of conifers and provides a beautiful setting for peaceful walks and picnics. Not only will you spot gorgeous bluebells but you are spoilt for choice with activities to keep those Mudlets occupied!
Eat after: If you are in need of a chilled drink and a bite to eat to recover from your strenuous day, then only a short drive away from Bedgebury is The Great House in Hawkhurst. Well-known for serving a top notch roast and Wood Fired Sourdough Pizza in the Mediterranean style stone terrace, it’s the ideal place to enjoy summer evenings.