Groombridge Place

One of the things I enjoy about living in Tunbridge Wells is the amazing amount of places to go on family days out in the beautiful surrounding villages and countryside. We are truly blessed to have such a super selection of things to do on our doorstep and I really enjoy taking friends and family to some of our favourite places when they come to visit.

If you are planning to visit Tunbridge Wells with your family, check out my seven suggestions for things to do:

#1 Groombridge Place

Groombridge Place and its stunning Enchanted Forest is somewhere I have no hesitation in recommending for a family day out. Jane Austen’s Pride and Prejudice was filmed there and we love discovering new parts of the grounds each time we go.

There are often different themed events taking place throughout the year and children are bound to enjoy discovering Crusoe’s World which used original props from the ‘Crusoe’ television series when it was constructed. It is formed of two tree houses which are linked together by a bridge and is a really unique ‘playground’ in the forest for children of all ages.

Look out for little fairy houses dotted around the forest, as well as some teepees and traditional gypsy caravans along the way. The woods are truly magical and the gardens are gorgeous too! Other activities include archery, giant tree swings and zip wires, a canal boat ride and visiting the birds of prey during the warmer months.

#2 Bewl Water

Bewl Water is such a wonderful way of discovering the great outdoors with the family. Stretching across 800 acres and surrounding a lovely lake, we have visited several times, hiring bikes on one occasion and sailing across the lake on another visit on one of the rowing boats which we rented for the morning.

The path which surrounds the lake is 12.5 miles and can take approximately six hours to complete by foot. There is also an option of getting the water-taxi back to shore half-way through the route if it’s getting a bit challenging.

The playgrounds at Bewl are excellent too, with a static pirate ship, several different slides and plenty to keep the children occupied. Fishing and water-sports are all on the agenda. There are some different options for eating too, at the Boathouse Bistro, the Waterfront Restaurant & Café or taking along a picnic.

Bewl Water, near Lamberhurst

Bewl Water, near Lamberhurst

Entry is only £2 per car, meaning you can always treat yourselves to a BBQ (during the summer months) or meal at one of my favourite child friendly pubs, The Vineyard, in Lamberhurst….

#3 Spa Valley Railway

A day out on the Spa Valley Railway is an excellent way of discovering the local countryside, stepping back in time and keeping the children entertained. Taking passengers from Tunbridge Wells West, High Rocks, Groombridge and Eridge, the Spa Valley Railway offers different ‘experience days’ including a Days out with children's favourite characters of the moment, Afternoon Tea (with a child-friendly menu), meeting Peppa Pig and Santa Specials at Christmas.

It’s a terrific trip on the regular days too, especially when combined with a visit to Groombridge Place (see above) or a trek around the High Rocks. This steam and diesel railway is run by volunteers and I can see why it’s popular among both locals and visitors to Tunbridge Wells.

#4 Bedgebury Pinetum

We are lucky to have a place like Bedgebury so close by. The Pinetum is a centre for international conservation and hosts the most complete collection of conifers on one site anywhere in the world.  There are many different paths for visitors to follow and it’s a wonderful place for a family adventure in the great outdoors.

Bedgebury Pinetum, Goudhurst

Photo: Bedgebury Pinetum by David Hodgkinson

Our initial visit was simply to do the Stick Man Trail which starts off just outside the Information Centre, but we soon realised there was so much more to this place! Based on the much loved Julian Donaldson book, the ‘Stick Man’ trail guides visitors through different activities to do along the way.

The trail itself is fantastic with some educational and fun activities along the way and many other things to do including Gruffalo Orienteering, adventures with Go Ape and lunch at the recently renovated restaurant.

There are various different sections to the playground for children of all ages along with bike hire too.  There’s so much to do at this awesome attraction and for just £10 entry fee per car, it’s a budget family friendly day out too.

#5 Hever Castle

Known for being the home of Anne Boleyn when she was a child, Hever Castle is set on stunning grounds and has so many things for families to do.

Hever Castle

Photo: Hever Castle

The castle is beautifully maintained and my four year old loves seeing the suits of armour scattered around, as well as the different outfits which children used to wear from bygone years. If you are near Tunbridge Wells at Christmas then a visit to Hever Castle is a must — the rooms are adorned with Christmas decorations and there’s something magical about this place.

The Adventure Playground has a Tower-Maze with each of King Henry VIII’s wives leading people to different spots plus plenty of swings and slides. It’s just a few minutes walk from the Military Museum which is one of my four year old’s favourites too. The water maize is really popular especially during the warmer weather and the Italian Garden is a tranquil and beautiful area to observe for both young and old. The café has a child-friendly menu and the gift shop has some terrific toys and gifts too.

#6 Poohsticks Bridge

Pooh Corner in Hartfield is the starting point for visitors hoping to discover Poohsticks Bridge in the Ashdown Forest. The wonderful Winnie-The-Pooh stories from A.A Milne are set in this picturesque area which the author moved to in 1924.

Pooh Corner was featured in the books as the shop where Christopher Robin visited and it’s now ‘Piglit’s’ tearoom and shop selling marvellous memorabilia from the Winnie-the-Pooh stories.

Ashdown Forest aka 100 aker wood

Photo: 100 Aker Wood aka Ashdown Forest by David Hodgkinson

You can also pick up a ‘Pooh Country Expotition’ with a map showing some of Pooh’s favourite places. Everyone gets a sticker for visiting all five locations at the end.

Hartfield is just a twenty minute drive from Royal Tunbridge Wells or alternatively visitors can catch the 291 bus to reach it.

A guide can be purchased at Pooh Corner with directions to the car park and starting point for the walk to Poohsticks Bridge.  The walk through the forest towards the bridge is buggy friendly and it takes around twenty minutes to reach. Remember to pick up some sticks along the way to play a game of Poohsticks when you reach the bridge!

#7 Hawkhurst Fish Farm

Hawkhurst Fish Farm may sound like an unlikely place for a family day out but there’s more to it than meets the eye. Based in a beautifully rural location on the border of Kent and East Sussex, The Fish Farm has three ponds suitable for adults and children’s fishing and a charming ‘Waterside’ café serving some really reasonably priced food.

Another attraction at the Fish Farm is Slap ’n Dash Ceramics Studio where adults and children can choose, paint and decorate a ceramic piece to put their own stamp on it.

Decoupage is available too, and is a great option if you need to take your piece of art home with you that day. There’s an immense variety of different designs to use, giving visitors the opportunity to make something that’s truly unique.

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Clare Lush is a local who loves to share the delights of Tunbridge Wells. What are your favourite holiday memories of Tunbridge Wells?