Brilliant bluebell walks
Blooming ‘eck! Bluebells are about to start popping up in their thousands across Kent. Here’s some of the best bluebells walks, plus our pick of nearby pubs for a cheeky pitstop.
We’re so lucky to have the most incredible number of bluebell landscapes here in Kent, so we’ve drawn up this list as a prompt really – as those blue beauties don’t last long. Go and enjoy the view of these carpets of colour while you can – and if you think there is a horrific omission, a crime against nature no less, let me know by adding a comment so everyone can benefit from your suggestion!
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. hevercastle.co.uk
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. Or one of our personal faves, The Leicester Arms Hotel in near by village, Penshurst.
Hole Park, near 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. holepark.com
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 Himilayan Gardens, Sevenoaks
The Walk: The Bluebell Festival is on Weds 19 – Sun 23 Apr, and involves a fabulous celebration of bluebells, including an Art Exhibition and bluebell-inspired crafts available to purchase. But if you don’t make that this weekend then visit this fab family-friendly garden any time soon as the Bluebell Walks will still be in full bloom and the tea room / ice cream huts at this place are stylishly done and serve tasty treats. It’s one of my new favourite places to hang out with the family – and dogs are welcome too! riverhillgardens.co.uk
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 if you’re really lucky with the weather…)
Mariners Hill, near 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 – they’re building a brand new one 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. Nab one of the comfortable sofas perched next to crackling open fires or prop yourself up at the striking exposed-beam bar.
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 Bluebell and wildflower walks followed by a cream tea. nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden
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 in the summer. There’s a great garden space in which to off-load the Mudlets. And it won our Muddy Award for Best Boutique Stay, should you fancy a mini break away.
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. visitkent.co.uk
Eat after: Try the Woolpack, Warehorne, a pretty part-weatherboarded 16th century dining pub now under same ownership as the Five Bells at Brabourne and the Globe in Rye; interesting revamped interior with beams, inglenook fire and lots of quirky touches, local ales and well liked food including daily specials, children and dogs welcome, five stylish bedrooms too should you fancy a stay.
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.