magnificent places to visit in Kent

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Kent is home to some of England’s most famous gardens, most notably Sissinghurst, which was laid out by Vita Sackville-West and Harold Nicolson in the 1930s. Laid out as a series of ‘rooms’ it has become an icon of garden design, with different areas sprawling around the 16th-century castle. Stroll through the rose garden, admire the white garden and climb the tower for a bird’s-eye view before delving into the exhibition on Sackville-West’s life and work. Then check into the Milk House on Main Street, a charming four bedroom former coaching inn with a welcoming bar and restaurant.
Doubles from £90 B&B;


Bewl water reservoir.

Bewl Water, the largest reservoir in the Southeast, is surrounded by 2,000 acres of parkland criss-crossed by 12 miles of biking and hiking trails ranging from gentle stroller-friendly strolls to more challenging hikes. In the warmer months, the Aqua Park offers a splashy hour of fun with slides, slides, and scrambling via inflatable boats (wetsuits and buoyancy aids included), and there are stand-up paddleboards and a TriSwim center with wild swimming lessons available. Young children will love the well-equipped adventure playground and the Waterfront Café is a fantastic place to take a breather with tea and cake and a wonderful view over the water. Alternatively, visit White Hart in Wadhurst, which has received an AA Rosette for its elegantly presented dishes, featuring hand-picked locally sourced crab and South Downs pork and steaks.

Pashley Manor Gardens

Tulips in Pashley.

Tulips in Pashley.

Related: Greek revival: the 90-year story of Sissinghurst’s new Aegean-inspired garden

Pashley is an idyllic example of a classic English country garden and family owned garden, open April 1st to September 30th, with 11 acres of spectacular herbaceous borders, pristine lawns, rose paths, a vegetable garden and a Grade I listed wisteria-encased house as a backdrop . The Tulip Festival in April sees nearly 50,000 tulips bloom in the beds, while Rose Week, usually in June, and Dahlia Days in late summer provide an opportunity to experience the gardens at their most spectacular. As well as the shrubs and flowers, the garden is dotted with sculptural works, most of which are for sale, with a display of botanical paintings in the Garden Room Café and gift shop. Then settle down for lunch (or the night) at the charming, quirky Bell in Ticehurst, a former coaching inn dating back to 1560 with an excellent restaurant and 11 rooms and lodges that exude rustic chic.
Doubles from £135 B&B, thebellinn; pashley

Scottish Castle



Picturesquely picturesque, the highlight of the Scotney estate is the ruined 14th-century castle, surrounded by a moat and the centerpiece of the spectacular gardens. As carefully designed as Sissinghurst, Scotney combines walled and quarry gardens with hidden walkways, a wooded glade and a heather-thatched ice house, while the Victorian mansion is also open to visitors and offers a fascinating glimpse into country life in the mid to late 19th century Century. Beyond the gardens, the property extends over 780 acres of parkland, criss-crossed by walking trails. a great place to bring the dog – or kids who need to let off steam as some of the trails are buggy friendly. Pause for lunch or tea and cakes at the Coach House and delve into the antique shop or well-stocked plant shop.

Bedgebury Pinetum

A fantastic place for a family outing, Bedgebury Pinetum is home to one of the world’s largest collections of pines and conifers with more than 12,000 trees in the rolling Kent countryside which is crisscrossed with walking, cycling and mountain biking trails catering for all levels and age groups. Children will love the opportunity to spot the Gruffalo and his friends hiding among the trees, and for younger children there is an outdoor play trail in addition to a Go Ape course. There are bikes for hire and an on-site cafe offers a wide range of homemade cakes and savory lunches; Alternatively, visit the historic Star and Eagle in nearby Goudhurst, an atmospheric 14th-century pub that serves hearty British classics and has 10 cozy rooms.
Doubles from £140 B&B,;

Bidden Vineyard

Vines at Biddenden.

Vines at Biddenden.

The oldest commercial winery in Kent, Biddenden has been producing sparkling and still wines since the early 1970s, long before English wine was in vogue, alongside cider and apple and pear pressed juices. A tour of the vineyard is a great way to gain insight into the winemaking process, and the on-site shop offers a wide range of bottles to take home. Compare vintages with a stop at nearby Chapel Down Vineyard (, which makes its own spirits alongside still and sparkling wines. End the day with dinner at The Bull ( in the nearby village of Benenden. Originally built as a private home in 1608, this cosy, historic pub features inglenook fireplaces and carved beams, and is furnished with antiques and soft lighting.

Farm shop Hartley

Girl admires black and white rabbit.

Girl admires black and white rabbit.

Hartley’s is a fifth-generation working farm in the small village of Winsley, offering produce from their own and nearby farms, as well as a gift shop and cafe. Meat from the pasture, free-range poultry and organic vegetables come directly from the farm, while bread, cakes, tarts and pies are made in the farm’s own bakery. For lunch, settle into the lively Barn Café, where the wood-fired oven delivers crispy pizzas, or get homemade gelato from The Cabin, with tables in the flower garden. Children can let off steam in the play area and meet the farm’s ducks, rabbits and chickens, and there is live music on Friday nights.

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