Bedgebury Pinetum

A family have fun on a raised timber walkway at Bedgebury Pinetum, Kent

Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest isn’t just a beautiful collection of trees; the Forestry Commission has worked hard to develop it into a woodland adventure world, and one of the largest and most popular family-orientated outdoor destinations in southeast England.

Home to fifteen miles of trails, adventure play areas, a unique collection of pine trees from around the world, and the tallest tree in Kent, Bedgebury has plenty to keep even the most active family busy. Much of the site is accessible, and the visitor centre can provide you with maps and directions to the various activities. The trails (suitable for both cycle and walking) are well surfaced and fun to explore: the tranquil Pinetum Trail is mostly level with plenty of rest stops; the Forest Trail has fairly easy access but rougher paths; while the Family Cycle Trail is the most adventurous route, but it’s still reasonably accessible, if somewhat hilly. There is also an adventurous MTB trail. Kids are well served with a Play Trail and a pirate-themed play area where efforts have been made to make some of the equipment accessible to children of all abilities. Unfortunately the play equipment stands in a giant sand pit, rendering it virtually unusable by children who are unable to leave their wheelchair, but elsewhere a raised walkway through the trees allows them to explore with the other kids. In addition, other, more accessible, play equipment can be found along the trail.

Also on offer is archery for all abilities, Go Ape and Tree Top Junior, a high-wire forest trail, which takes you on a three-hour treetop adventure via Tarzan swings and ziplines. It’s not for the fainthearted, although participants are securely wired the whole time. Call ahead to book and discuss any requirements you have – the Go Ape guideline for accessibility is: “if you can climb a rope ladder you should be fine”, so if this is you, then give it a go. On arrival, you’ll find the disabled parking bays on asphalt near the visitor centre, which is home to a RADAR key-accessible toilet and level-entry shower. There is a bike shop here too, which rents out adapted bicycles and there is also a wheelchair available to borrow: to reserve, call 01580 879820.

Food & drink: Bedgebury is an amazing place to picnic, and there’s enough space to ensure that everyone can find a scenic spot. If you’d prefer not to bring your own food, try Bedgebury Café, which serves generously filled baguettes, jacket potatoes and lovely cakes.