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Britain at its best: discovering the beautiful High Weald area

Britain at its best: discovering the High Weald, a glorious area with stunning gardens, beautiful castles and noisy steam trains

  • Tom Chesshyre explores the East Kent / East Sussex section of the High Weald – 560 square meters of wooded land
  • He recommends traveling on one of the steam trains between Tenterden and Bodiam to see the countryside itself.
  • For a long hike, Bedgebury National Pinetum is the perfect spot – 320 wooded acres await

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Strolling among pots of agapanthus, lily pads and beds of herbs on a sunny day in Sissinghurst, with the tower of the 16th-century mansion peering into a blue sky, feels like a kind of garden utopia.

This East Kent / East Sussex section of the High Weald (560 square miles of wooded land spanning Surrey, West, and East Sussex and Kent) is blessed with a wealth of nature.

A dozen miles from Sissinghurst, at Great Dixter’s historic home, another beautiful garden awaits you. Dahlias, roses and hydrangeas sprout among fig trees, thistles, pines and, in a corner, thickets of bamboo and bananas.

Sissinghurst, with the tower of the 16th-century mansion looming against a blue sky, feels like some kind of garden utopia, says Tom.

Sissinghurst, with the tower of the 16th-century mansion looming against a blue sky, feels like some kind of garden utopia, says Tom.

A dozen miles from Sissinghurst, at Great Dixter's historic home, another beautiful garden awaits you.

A dozen miles from Sissinghurst, at Great Dixter's historic home, another beautiful garden awaits you.

A dozen miles from Sissinghurst, at Great Dixter’s historic home, another beautiful garden awaits you.

Then take a ride on one of the noisy steam trains for ten miles between Tenterden in Kent and Bodiam in East Sussex to see the countryside itself.

This is the Kent and East Sussex Railway, with trains rattling happily through hop hills and vineyards, arriving at the dreamy National Trust run Bodiam Castle. Turrets, moats and a tangled (realistic) story are waiting to be discovered.

So how about a drink? The wineries don’t fall short on the ground in these parts. Chapel Down, England’s leading winemaker, is located south of picturesque Tenterden.

Take a ride on one of the noisy steam trains for ten miles between Tenterden in Kent and Bodiam in East Sussex to see the countryside proper

Take a ride on one of the noisy steam trains for ten miles between Tenterden in Kent and Bodiam in East Sussex to see the countryside proper

Take a ride on one of the noisy steam trains for ten miles between Tenterden in Kent and Bodiam in East Sussex to see the countryside proper

Turrets, moats and a tangled (realistic) story await to be discovered at Bodiam Castle.

Turrets, moats and a tangled (realistic) story await to be discovered at Bodiam Castle.

Turrets, moats and a tangled (realistic) story await to be discovered at Bodiam Castle.

Meanwhile, the Hush Heath Estate sits a few miles northeast of Sissinghurst and is home to some top-notch brilliant whites.

For a long walk one morning, Bedgebury National Pinetum is the perfect place: 320 acres filled with more than 10,000 trees considered the best collection of pines on the planet.

Nature takes center stage again. This corner of the High Weald offers great pleasures in abundance.

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