Bedgebury National Pinetum walk

Arboretum with Pines and vistas. Longer approach walk through ancient woodland.

Length 3 to 8 km (2 to 5 miles)
Toughness 1 / 10 - some trails are wheelchair accessible with gentle inclines, no styles, longer trails are uneven

Bedgebury National Pinetum is an arboretum (botanical garden for trees) housing the national conifer collection, including rare and endangered species. Its about 1 square km, but set in a much larger area of ancient woodland. There is a visitor centre and cafe overlooking a pretty lake. There are several walking trails through the Pinetum, and longer running trails through the surrounding forest.

The core attraction for walkers is an area about 1km by 1km with matures pines and vistas to appreciate them. Sadly, there are very few informational panels explaining the significance of the trees. Surrounding this is Bedgebury Forest, a much larger ancient area of ancient woodland

There is a visitor centre and cafe with outside tables overlooking a pretty lake.

There is also bike hire, mountain biking routes, and orienteering trails through the surrounding forest, and "Go Ape", a children's walkway through the trees.

Admission is free, but parking is £14. Go Ape and bike hire are extra.

The suggested walk is a short walk from the car park looping around the pinetum - do be diverted from it and do your own thing. The Bedgebury Pinetum website (and the visitor centre by the lakeside cafe) have leaflets with suggested short walks. The suggested walk is 'hidden secrets of the pinetum' - the longest. These trails are waymarked, but the signs are a little intermittent. The whole area is only 1km x 1km, so you shouldn't get too lost. There are some sculptures dotted around.

If coming from Flimwell or the A21 lay-by, the approach path first comes to 'Go Ape'. Continue past it, on into the Pinetum itself, continue north and slightly west to the visitor centre building by the lake to pick up leaflets.

to do : walk check Flimwell route, improve main walk GPS

  • There is an ok, out-and-back walk from a lay-by on the A21, south of the pinetum, plus 4km return.
  • There is a longer, ok, out-and-back walk (plus 6km) from Flimwell, about 2.5km to the south, over a good wide trail for bus travellers. The "A21" lay-by route joins it.
  • There is a longer, very pleasant out-and-back walk (plus 5km) from a forest car park, about 2.5km to the west, again over a good trail

Catch a train from London Charing Cross (or London Bridge) to Wadhurst (about 45 mins). Transfer to a #254 bus (hourly, Mon-Sat, about 20 mins) to Flimwell. Get off at the A21 crossroads, from where its a 3km walk. There are 2 trains an hour, but the bus is only hourly. Last bus in 2021 was at 1745. With connections, about 1.5 to 2 hours. There is nothing by the Flimwell bus stop, or by Wadhurst station to await your bus or train. Use Google maps public transport directions to search for Flimwell TN5 7QH

By car, the Pinetum's car park is at TN17 2SJ, just off the A21 (the London - M25 - Hastings road)

Or, you can park for free and walk-in.

  • There are a few places on an A21 lay-by at TN5 7PP
  • You can park in Flimwell, near TN5 7QH,
  • The longest route in but nicest, in a remote forest car park at the end of Park Lane, which starts near TN18 5AN.

Bedgebury was a country estate. The Pinetum was established in the 1850's, as an ornamental park, and Lady Mildred's Drive was laid as a carriage route to view the trees. It fell into neglect in the early 1900's until 1924 when it was purchased by Kew Gardens and the Forestry Commission as the London air at Kew was too polluted for pines, and the Pinetum as it is today was established. Now run by the Forestry Commission, it lost 25% of its trees in the Great Storm of 1987. The country house (of which the Pinetum was the grounds) eventually became a school which is now closed.

The surrounding forest is ancient woodland, but there is heather indicating it may have previously been managed heathland, and evidence of dammed streams, perhaps for iron smelting with water powered bellows, which peaked in Henry VIII's time - the once major industry went into decline with the import of Swedish iron ore, and later, died with the introduction of coke (coal) for smelting during the industrial revolution


Scotney Castle (NT), Sissinghurst Gardens (NT) and Bewl Water (large lake/reservoir with visitor centre, cafe etc.)

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By Car

Start Flimwell crossroads, TN5 7QH Map Directions


National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Traveline (bus times): 0871 200 22 33 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234


Apr-24 Andrew

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