My first ever visit to a pinetum – yes, I’ve seen some as part of larger gardens, but I was a bit skeptical whether a conifer forest can really be that much fun. I am happy to report now that I was quite so wrong: this pinetum was beautiful: there was so much to see in fifty shades of green and pops of pinks and reds here are there. And as the area is quite spread out it also becomes a nice walk in terms of length also.
The destination of our family day out was Bedgebury National Pinetum near Tunbridge Wells in Kent, South-East England. This area has been set aside to conserve many endangered species, and at the same time it also allows people to enjoy the collections and experience the feeling of being surrounded by the nature.
Bedgebury Pinetum is open almost every day and it’s free to enter, except for a parking fee. In summertime the area also hosts concerts and have theatre performances, so one could bring a picnic and enjoy a little walk first, thus combining culture and nature on the same trip.
There is a lovely trail that goes around the pinetum area, as well as family bike paths, the very popular Go Ape treetop adventure line and a family trail. The latter proved to be a huge success for our family: it’s a two-kilometre long trail with many different play areas scattered along it – and the surrounding forest is just perfect for buildings dens (which can be spotted pretty much everywhere).
If you want to introduce your children to walks and hiking this is the place to start – ours kept running around for hours, climbing trees, playing hide and seek, occasionally stopping to read tree name labels or observe a family of ducks swimming across a pond.
One, two, three – they all go up the tree!