Published: 00:02, 06 December 2017
| Updated: 09:13, 06 December 2017
If you’re looking for a bracing country walk, close to water – and with plenty of watering holes nearby – Bewl Water may have one which ticks all the boxes.
With hundreds of acres of rolling countryside around the reservoir to explore, the South’s largest stretch of inland open water near Lamberhurst is the perfect place for a brisk winter’s walk.
Created in 1973 and supplying Medway, Thanet and Hastings, it has a hive of activity on and off the water to look out for.
Walkers can step out on the challenging 12.5-mile round walk, or try some more leisurely and scenic short walks.
And if you get tired just call for the water taxi service which will give you a lift back across the reservoir from one of three jetties around the shore.
The track is shared with horse riders and cyclists, with bikes available to hire from the Bewl Water cycle shop, and there is a short road section. There are also numerous public footpaths and bridleways.
Estate manager Howard Mackenzie said: “The area is a nature lover’s paradise with a mixture of water fowl – including grebes, herons and cormorants – along with hedgerow and field species of bird.
“The fields and woods surrounding the water are teeming with wildlife too, with deer often spotted in the quieter areas.”
Nearby, look out for Bayham Abbey ruins, and Scotney Castle with its formal gardens.
Refreshments are available onsite throughout the winter, with the Waterfront Café open from 10am to 5pm Wednesday to Friday and from 7.15am to 5pm at weekends. The Boat House Bistro is also open at weekends.
For full details of what you can see and do at Bewl Water throughout the winter, visit bewlwater.co.uk.
To hire a bike, you can pre-book 24 hours in advance on 01892 890000.
There are a number of walks you can try on the 450-acre Weald estate, but this is suitable for most people and takes about 90 minutes.
Start at the car park and follow the path which takes you to the left of the castle, along the medieval moat and round to the right at the gazebo, before heading down the hill towards the lake.
At the bottom of the field, go through the gate and turn left around the lower lake; cross the second bridge, and continue right along the ride through the traditional coppice woodland.
At the waymarker you have two options. For the shorter route, turn right and continue up the hill, across Park Field and back towards the car park. For the longer route, bear left then right and continue until you reach the edge of the woodland.
Turn right down a narrow path and continue over Park Field, left across the parkland, taking in the views, and cross the drive to enter Bull and Birches Woods. Follow the path before turning onto the public footpath up the field. At the top turn right, pass through the second double gate then bear diagonally left across the orchard. Cross the track and join the bridleway, until you reach a waymarker.
Turn right into the field and follow the margin until you come to a metal gate where you bear right on to the lane and head to the next gate on your right. Go through it onto the path, taking in the views before continuing over the stream back to the castle. For more ideas go to nationaltrust.org.uk/sissinghurst-castle-garden
The showrooms may be closed but there is still plenty to see and do at the National Trust estate near Sevenoaks.
Guided winter walks are held every Thursday, Saturday and Sunday in the run-up to Christmas, between 2pm and 2.45pm.
Walkers can learn about the history of the ancient parkland, its wild deer and other inhabitants with the walks team – and you can bring your own wildlife, as dogs on leads are welcome.
The walks are free, with donations welcomed. Just meet outside the visitor centre and wrap up warmly. There are also waymarked walks in the park for a self-guided stroll.
You can download a leaflet from the website or follow the colour coded signs that start in front of the house.
Choose from the 5km Wheels Walk, which follows surfaced tracks and is suitable for wheelchairs and buggies; the 4.5km Woodland Ramble, which is suitable for families; or the 5km Seven Oaks Walk, which follows the perimeter of the park with some breathtaking views across the countryside. The Brewhouse Café is open for a post-walk treat.
For details visit nationaltrust.org.uk/knole
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