Cost To Ride: £10 per car.
Bedgebury Forest is the ultimate trail centre experience in the South East; a 13km single track loop, 10km family cycle trail, a wooden visitor centre complete with a bike shop, coffee shop, shower block and classrooms. This leg of the site opened in 2006 - previously Bedgebury was just a pineteum, which sits the other side of the lake from the visitor centre. A little known fact is that Centre Parcs were sniffing around the territory prior to Bedgebury's huge overhaul, which now also houses GoApe and extensive children's play parks.
Visiting on a dry Saturday in June highlighted just how popular the cycling is at Bedgebury. It was good to see the variety of people who had come to escape town life in favour of the tranquility of cycling Bedgebury's trails: The full-on XC rider to the new-to-the experience family were present - a testament to the site's broad appeal.
First up; the singletrack. You can find this by following the blue family trail from the car park over the first hill, where it crosses over. The red banners stand either side of an enticing ribbon of trail disappearing into the woodland. It cannot be ignored.
With each visit something has been improved on this loop - big credit can go to the club for this. Regular maintenance and improvements take place and as a result beautifully manicured sections flow a treat, surfaces are good and some cunningly placed obstacles are included to keep you on your toes.
We may lack big gradients in the south east, but the singletrack makes good use of what there is, right from the first down section 'Dad's Army' - you can keep your speed through the berms as it meanders its way down the hill, ensuring big grins on exit. Nice one.
It would be great to see some table top jumps in the mix, perhaps this is something that will still take place further down the line. Some may sniff at the lack of natural terrain, including roots, but we guess this is a bi-product of having to create trails to handle high volumes of traffic.
The family trail utilises the forests fire roads, providing a wide, safe (no roads to negotiate here) environment for the family to enjoy a ride. There are some fairly gruelling hills involved, but hopefully these will help burn off some of the kids excess energy and add to the sense of accomplishment once completing the loop. There is also some lovely scenery to be enjoyed, complete with an ideal lake-side stop-off point part way.
The aforementioned singletrack crosses at multiple points, perfect for if you are wanting to sample a section of the trail without committing to the whole thing.
Bedgebury manages to appeal to the family and seasoned rider nicely, and with the option to stop for a coffee and cake by the lake afterwards, what's not to like? Go forth and enjoy.
Bedgebury Forest is signposted off the A21 on the B2079 (Lady Oak Lane), approximately 12 miles southeast of Tunbridge Wells and 16 miles northwest of Hastings.