In association with Southeastern, our friends over at Escapism are serving up a must-read guide dubbed 'Hidden Gems of the South East'. From action and adventure activities right through to spots of natural beauty, via history, culture, family fun, and food and drink - it's a showcase for the 75 best kept secrets that this corner of England has to offer. #SEhiddengems
As soon as we step off the train and onto the platform at Wadhurst Station, it’s the fresh smell of the woodland all around that hits us first. Then, after the train pulls away, it’s the tranquility.
It’s hard to comprehend that we were surrounded by the crowds, the noise and the thick and heavy air of London just over an hour ago. This place feels like a world away from all that.
Why haven't we done this before? It’s a question we’ll be asking ourselves regularly over the course of the day.
We all lead such busy lives these days, and for those who live in somewhere like London, it’s easy to go for long periods feeling almost entirely removed from nature. That’s why the concept of microadventures is so popular at the moment. Coined in a recent book by Alastair Humphreys, it’s the method of getting out where we can and when we can to reconnect ourselves and get a quick burst of that spirit of adventure.
"The Bull Inn of Ticehurst, a beautiful auld-England-type place, comes along at just the right time..."
With these kind of mini expeditions, as Alastair Humphreys would tell you himself, the best thing to do is to set a task and have an objective. This could be getting to the highest point in your county, finding your way to the sea or simply seeking out a beautiful spot that you’ve heard good things about. On this occasion, we've set ourselves the objective of circumnavigating the whole of Bewl Water, the largest body of water in the South East of England.
After getting off the train at Wadhurst Station, we spend the day between thick greenery and shimmering water as we follow the trail along the reservoir’s edge, occasionally dipping inland with its little creeks or crossing through woodland and meadowland. If you want to spot any wildlife then this is one of those places where there's no patience required, because a whole host of birds are constantly chattering from the branches, swooping over the water or floating gently on it.
The Bull Inn of Ticehurst, a beautiful auld-England-type place, comes along at just the right time, and we’ve covered enough miles to feel we’ve earned a pint and the one after it as well. Then, with one last push uphill we’re back at the station at Wadhurst ready to return to the city, satisfied that we’ve managed to fit so much into a single day, and all with enough time to get back and relax with our feet up in the evening.
Do It Yourself
We took the train from London Charing Cross to Wadhurst and walked from the station into the village then down to the reservoir. It's a big hike altogether but one that most people with reasonable fitness can achieve. For a shorter trip you can walk along the reservoir and then backtrack rather than looping right around.
This summer Southeastern is running an offer where customers can buy Off-Peak Day Return train tickets from London to 13 selected destinations for a fixed price of £15, £20 or £25. The offer runs until the 24th of August 2018.For a full list of terms and conditions, visit southeasternrailway.co.uk/summer.