Stuck inside after succumbing to the worst bout of flu in my life, I was worried that I’d miss out on some Autumnal adventures this year. I had planned to go to Bedgebury Pinetum sooner, but I’d already stretched my limits by going back to work too soon, so I had to put my trip on hold until this weekend. Luckily, there were still plenty of pretty leaves around by the time I got out there!
Bedgebury Pinetum is a hidden gem, so hidden in fact, I had no idea it existed until recently. My mother had mentioned wanting to go there, and at first I was a little dubious – how she described it made it sound like it was really far away, and I’m always nervous about driving in unknown places. Still, I looked it up on Google Maps, and was surprised to find it was only a 40 minute drive from home, and most of the route was very familiar to me. The pinetum is located in Goudhurst, Kent and is relatively easy to get to by car, apart from the very last stretch where you have to drive slowly down a narrow lane, trying not to crash into oncoming cars. That part takes less than a minute, and the rest of the journey is quite pleasant and simple.
As soon as we arrived, we knew we were going to love this place. Once you’ve paid to enter (a very reasonable £12 per car) it’s a short walk uphill, then you can follow a path to several different places. Within Bedgebury Pinetum is Go Ape, which offers treetop adventures that are far too active for me, but great for those who want to test their bravery!
We arrived at lunch time and headed straight to the on-site cafe. It was a really cool, cabin-esque building with large windows to showcase the beautiful views across one of the lakes. We both ordered the Welsh Rarebit which was delicious – a little pricey at over £5, but it really was delicious. So much so that I tried to recreate it today for my lunch.
After eating, we headed off amongst the trees. We didn’t have a map, so we didn’t know which way was best to go, but eager to explore, we just kept walking. Apart from the beautiful trees, the first thing that struck us was how well-kept and well-designed the pinetum was. The trails were mostly flat and some parts had wooden walkways, meaning that people with prams or wheelchairs could get around quite easily. We saw several young families and disabled people on our walk, and it was nice to think that they weren’t being excluded.
Around every corner we fell in love with Bedgebury more and more. The huge array of trees meant never-ending variety – my camera has never been so busy! Reds, oranges, yellows and purples burst through the green, all contrasting spectacularly with the bright blue sky. Despite being Autumn, the weather was wonderful for our visit. It was almost too hot for a jacket, but I kept mine on so I didn’t have to faff around each time I wanted to get in amongst the leaves to get a good shot.
The trail we went on took us to several beautiful parts of the park. We found pretty lakes with ducks and waterlilies, massive tree stumps with excited children clambering on them, and areas shaded by some of the tallest trees I have ever seen.
As we curved back around, I felt a little sad to be heading back. This place really is the most beautiful place I’ve been to so far, and I feel so lucky that it’s so close to home. For a leaf lover like myself, Bedgebury Pinetum is paradise!
Bedgebury also tickles another one of my many fancies. I love animals, so seeing all the ducks swimming around, and catching fleeting glimpses of unusual sounding birds had me really excited. I didn’t see any squirrels or rabbits, but just having the possibility gave me a buzz. Also, there were so many cute dogs! I must have encountered at least thirty dogs on my way around. I even got to stroke a few. I’m not a dog owner myself, but if I did have a canine companion, I’d definitely bring him or her along to Bedgebury for a long walk every now and then.
Speaking of adorable creatures, there was one moment in particular that had my mother and I giggling. Nearing the end of the trail, I stepped behind my mother and spotted a little green bug on her hood. It was some kind of grasshopper and it was incredibly tame. I encouraged it to crawl onto my hand, which it did gladly. It then hopped back onto my mother. I tried to get it back again, and then it jumped away. I wonder what other creepy crawlies we could have discovered if we’d looked a little closer.
Finally, as the sun was starting to get to that point in the sky where is blinds you, we got to the end of the trail. We were already talking about making a return journey to Bedgebury. It truly was magical – I have never seen so many vibrant colours all around me. Sure, I’ve seen Autumn leaves before, but with so many trees in close proximity, it was like being wrapped in a blanket of colour!
I thoroughly recommend Bedgebury Pinetum. It may be a little out of the way for a lot of people, but if you find yourself in Kent or East Sussex and you have a car make sure you don’t miss this spectacular place. The admission fee is definitely worth paying for all of the wonderful sights you’ll see here. The walking routes vary in length and difficulty, so there’s something to suit everyone, especially if you get a thrill out of seeing pretty trees! Come in the Autumn to witness these amazing colours for yourself. I guarantee you’ll fall in love with it as much as I did.