YOUR GUIDE TO THE LOCAL COUNTRYSIDE: WATER WALKS
SEVENOAKS WILDLIFE RESERVE
Combine walking with nature and pay a visit to Sevenoaks Wildlife Reserve. The 73 hectare site comprises five lakes and a mixed habitat of ponds, seasonal flooded pools, reedbed and woodlands. A great site for birdwatching, while there keep an eye out for all kinds of species, including garden warblers and tufted ducks. There’s also a fascinating visitor centre which houses displays illustrating the prehistory and history of the site, the creation of the reserve, its habitats and the wildlife that they support.
THE RIVER ROTHER
For a real taste of the Wealden countryside, embark on a walk beginning in Tenterden, and follow the River Rother all the way to Bodiam Castle. Travel through fields, woodland and vineyards before finding the river path. On the way you’ll see the Kent & East Sussex railway and might even spot a steam train in action. If you’re in need of a little respite, the Lime Wharf Café close to Northiam station is a great place to grab a coffee or bite to eat and rest your weary legs. And, from here you can get a boat to Bodiam Castle too.
Just two miles outside of Lamberhurst, lies Bewl Water – the largest stretch of open water in the South East. The 800 acre site is set in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and is popular with families, sports enthusiasts and holidaymakers alike. From short strolls to longer excursions, walking here doesn’t feel like a chore as all around you’re surrounded by stunning views of the reservoir. Those who are feeling really energetic can walk the whole way round – it’s 12.5 miles and takes approximately six hours – but there are also water taxis to save the day if you get tired! www.bewlwater.co.uk
LEYBOURNE LAKES COUNTRY PARK
Developed from former gravel workings, Leybourne Lakes Country Park is dominated by a series of lakes and flower rich grasslands that offer both quiet recreation for visitors and a valued sanctuary for a variety of wildlife. The 230 acre country park has spectacular views across its many lakes and out to the North Downs and plenty of walking routes including the 1.5 mile ocean circular walk.
Once a private landscaped garden, Dunorlan Park is now a much-loved public park of around 78 acres, with a six acre lake where you can hire boats and watch the world go by. The meandering paths around the grounds make it an easy place for walkers of all abilities, and it’s also a popular dog walking spot. If you fancy something a little faster paced, the Tunbridge Wells Park Run also takes place at Dunorlan on Saturday mornings.