Tuesday 21 July 2020

Bedgebury, Goudhurst, Kent - An Amazing Day Out for all the Family

Bedgebury Header

Back in April 2017, we visited Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest as we were going to try out the Go Ape course. Despite having lived only 30 minutes away for a good few years it was our first visit there and we were impressed. We all had an amazing day at the Forestry Commission site that is a 200-acre Pinetum and 2000-acre forest. I'd heard many times before that it is a great place for families to visit but I wasn't in a hurry to drive over and pay for parking as we ourselves live in 220 acres of glorious East Sussex countryside. 

It wasn't until a couple of weeks ago when we were due to head to Go Ape again that we made our next trip to Bedgebury, and it still is as glorious as ever. We need to go back as a family and take a picnic to spend a number of hours there walking the trails without the distraction of doing Go Ape and being tried afterwards!

I love that the Forestry Commission describe Bedgebury as a 'world of trees' and you can check out their website before you travel if you want to know more about all the tree species you'll see once there. If you like to be outside there is so much to do at Bedgebury and it is open 8am - 7pm daily at the moment -

Walking Trails

Again head to the website to download maps for various trails across the massive site. There are gentle strolls, nordic walking trails, seasonal trails, challenging health walks and calorie mapped trails. Normally you can pick up maps in the Visitor Centre too, but right now, due to Covid-19 it is closed. They are working on reopening it soon though and you can find lots of information on the website.

There are four orienteering trails for all abilities, they are professionally designed and affiliated to the British Orienteering Federation. The four different routes are suitable for children, beginners, intermediate and advanced.

Dogs are welcome at Bedgebury, but of course, you must follow the forest rules.

Bike Riding

Bedgebury is a really popular place for biking, either for sport or leisure. Nearly every second car has a bike rack in the car park. There are cycle trails for everyone, from beginners and families looking for a fun day out, to adrenalin junkies looking for a challenge. With 10km of family cycle track and over 13km of single-track, there's lots to explore around the 2000 acre forest.

There is lots of information on the website about the bike trails available and you can find out the difficulty and steepness of the trail on there.

If you don't have your own bikes or need more, or trailers etc then there is an onsite bike specialist to help you. Quench Cycles are based by the Visitor Centre in Bedgebury and will be happy to help you. Prices start from £20 for an hour for an adult bike.

Image, thanks to Bedgebury

Play Trail and Equipment

The picture with all the people are from our visit in 2017, when we visited recently all the play equipment was closed due to the pandemic. I now see that some areas opened up on 23rd July and that is great as the kids love to be able to climb and play out.

There is so much play equipment across the massive site and even a dedicated play trail of just over one mile, that has eleven different pieces of equipment, such as a giant rope swing, shipwreck and ants best climbing frame.


There is a nice cafe by the lake with lots of outdoor seating and benches, it is open from 8.30am.  I spent £9.35 on a coffee, coke and 3 ice creams and this felt quite a reasonable price. Currently, it is running on a take out basis but you can still get a good variety of hot and cold food, drinks, sweets and ice creams. You are welcome to use any of the outdoor seating for your own picnics too, which I thought was really fair. 

At the back of the cafe, there are toilets and a water refill station. When we visited there was good consideration of the Covid-19 arrangements with distancing being encouraged and sanitiser available.  We found the facilities clean and well-stocked.

There were plenty of dog bowls around with water if you've bought your dog with you. To be honest, it was a bit of a dog owners paradise and my Miss M was in her element chatting away to the owners as she petted their dogs. 

In normal times, the information office is staffed by some very friendly people and there is plenty of literature you can pick up if you want more information on Bedgebury. My girls also really loved all the little gifts and it was nice that they could pick things up for £1 or £1.50 and not have to spend too much. Right now the shop and information office is closed. 


It is £13 for parking the car for the whole day on a school holiday or weekend and £10 at other times. At first, I thought this sounded a lot but it really isn't when you see the beauty that is Bedgebury. It really is a great place, very calm and peaceful and of course so big that if you wanted to escape all other people, you could.

There is an early bird fee of £3 for those who visit between 8am and 11am which is really good value if you are an early riser, or perhaps want to explore in the Summer before the sun gets too hot. You can also enter for up to 20 minutes without charge to drop someone off to collect them.

Minibuses and coaches are welcome but the cost is increased, at £30 for a minibus and £50 for a coach. Cars with a trailer are also double the cost of a regular car.

Go Ape Bedgebury

We've visited before back in 2017 when my children were younger and they did the Treetop Adventure for children, I wrote about it here and then we visited recently for the girls to try out the bigger and more adventurous TreeTop Challenge in this time of social distancing. They had an amazing time and so did my friend Amalia who accompanied them up into the trees. You can read our full write up and see a short video over here

Go Ape is open 7 days a week generally and must be booked in advance on the Go Ape website and it costs from £18 for a child on the Treetop Adventure and from £26 for a child on the Treetop Challenge.

Useful information

Address:  Lady Oak Lane, Goudhurst, Kent. TN17 2SJ

Telephone: 01580 879820

Email: bedgebury@forestryengland.uk

Opening Hours:  8am - 7pm except for Christmas Day

Dogs:  Welcome on a lead

Accessibility: View the guide over here

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