Six months ago, my wife and I decided to take a huge leap and set-up a new type of bike hire business for the countryside – CountryBike. The idea was simple; by using Internet enabled locks, we could make bike hire more accessible to more locations and more people in the countryside. We are now in 9 amazing venues across the stunning Kent and East Sussex countryside.
We often cycle the routes our bikes are hosted on ourselves. With the sun shining on the May Bank Holiday we set off as a family to explore a section of the wonderful Tudor Cycle Trail; a mainly off-road route between Penshurst Place & Gardens and Tonbridge Castle.
Starting at the Porcupine Pantry café in Penshurst Place (host to some of our bikes) we tracked the route along a quiet private road with small serene fishing lakes on the left. The lane on that day was alive with strollers, runners and cyclists all heading out to explore the countryside.
We soon got to ‘The’ hill up to Well Place. It is steep but short and once conquered you feel like you’re on top of the world. Views of Tonbridge in the distance unveil themselves and wooded areas skirt the periphery of your view as if Capability Brown sculpted the landscape.
Descending the other side you cross the Medway River for the first time. The path soon transports you into a completely different landscape. Dappled light comes through the tunnel-like canopy with water either side of the path.
At the end of the straight mile a right turn leads to all change again, as you emerge into far reaching vistas over the lush grassland, which is the Medway flood plain.
After a while, the path rises suddenly to mount the flood dam where you can see the twisting masts of moored boats. Here we joined a quiet lane that connects the off-road part of the route through to Haysden Country Park and off-road again.
Arriving at the park, we stopped at the wonderful café. We love the Wellington boot planters, great homemade ice-lollies and hearty sausage baguette sandwiches. Once fed, it was time to head out around Barden Lake. Ducks and swans, dragonflies and other wildlife – nothing beats the sight of water on a hot day!
It was now time for our return journey…although you can carry on all the way to Tonbridge via the playing fields and on to the castle (one of England’s finest examples of a Motte-and-Bailey).
The return was just as stunning, opening up a different perspective on the views that we enjoyed on the way out. As we descended into Penshurst again, we got our first glimpse of the majestic Penshurst Place, appearing as if nestled in the trees.
We decided to have ice creams at the Porcupine Pantry café, where we reflected on what a stunning, diverse, family friendly day out this was. It won’t be long before we are back!
If you would like to learn more about CountryBike bicycle hire check out their website.
If you would like to try the Tudor Cycle Trail for yourself download your guide here.