High Weald AONB Tourist Information

Oast Houses at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

Oast Houses at Sissinghurst Castle Gardens

The High Weald is a gentle ancient landscape of wooded hills, sandstone outcrops, pretty farmsteads and old routeways and droveways. This special South East Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty covers a vast 1461 square kilometres across parts of Kent, Sussex and Surrey.

The High Weald is the fourth largest of England’s AONBs and a rural area dotted with over 100 quintessentially English villages. Popular centres in the Kent High Weald include Tunbridge Wells and Tenterden on the border, Crowborough and Cranbrook.

One of the 7 Wonders of the Weald - The Kent & East Sussex Railway at Tenterden

One of the 7 Wonders of the Weald – The Kent & East Sussex Railway at Tenterden

Wealden Landscape

The Weald’s interconnected woodland reveals evidence of ancient settlement and management. At the time of Domesday around 1086, the Weald was the most wooded natural region in England. Today it contains 50 Sites of Special Scientific Interest and over 100 Scheduled Ancient Monuments. Popular walking trails in the area include the Weald Way, the High Weald Landscape Trail and the Saxon Shore Way.

Things to do & see

The National Trust cares for 9 parks and gardens across the High Weald including one of the 7 Wonders of the Weald – Scotney Castle country house and romantic garden with 14th century moated castle. They also care for Bewl Water, a vast inland area of water popular for a range of outdoor activities. Beautiful Bedgebury Forest features 22km of cycle routes.

Scotney with 14th century moated castle

Scotney with 14th century moated castle

The High Weald is where you will find some of the most famous Sussex and Kent Gardens, Vineyards and parkland landscapes including Sheffield Park with landscapes designed by ‘Capability Brown’, Wakehurst Place with its botanical garden and on the Weald boundary near Cranbrook famous Sissinghurst Castle Gardens with its Elizabethan tower centrepiece.

Enchanting attractions feature the High Weald’s three steam railways including another of the 7 Wonders, the Kent and East Sussex Railway with main town station at Tenterden. Sample some of the finest Kent wines on a vineyard tour – Biddenden Vineyard in the heart of the Kent High Weald offer free guided tours across their 23 acre vineyard which produces award-winning wines as well as the famous Biddenden cider and apple and pear juices.

The High Weald pushes all the way down to the Sussex coast at Rye, incorporating ancient villages like Winchelsea. Central Sussex highlights include the enchanting Bluebell Railway and Ashdown Forest with its famous links to Winnie the Pooh.

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens with Elizabethan tower

Sissinghurst Castle Gardens with Elizabethan tower

Where to stay

There are many great places to stay across the High Weald. In Kent you’ll find a wonderful choice of converted oast houses and rural campsites.

Luxury and affordable B&Bs and inns with restaurants and rooms are plentiful in popular Wealden gateway centres such as Tenterden, Cranbrook and Crowborough or stay in a Georgian hotel or guest house in historic spa town Tunbridge Wells. From holiday barns to medieval farmhouses and award-winning, Grade Listed B&BS – find them all in the High Weald. Browse accommodation choice below and book online.

Michelle is an experienced travel writer with iknow and has travelled extensively across the UK, Spain, Portugal and the USA. When she’s not busy writing for iknow she enjoys spending time touring museums and art galleries and seeking out the best independent shops in Manchester and Leeds.