Cycling in Tunbridge Wells
by Lynda Grigsby
Ten Things To Do For Free in Tunbridge Wells
Some of the best things in Tunbridge Wells are free!
A holiday break in Tunbridge Wells can be had on a budget. There are many things to do without splashing the cash. Whatever keeps your family occupied, we’ll show you where to find the free things in Tunbridge Wells.
Explore the Pantiles in Royal Tunbridge Wells
Follow in Georgian Footsteps along the Pantiles and historic heart of the town.
Our informative leaflet describes two walking routes around the town– the shorter route is approximately one hour, ideal if your time is limited and the longer route is two hours.
The Grove was given as a gift to the inhabitants of Tunbridge Wells. This quiet park complete with swings, slide and roundabout is tucked away from the busy town and is an ideal place for children to play and adults to relax on one of the many park benches.
Don’t miss the Church of King Charles the Martyr with its superb ceiling. Can you find the moustached angel or the seat that Princess Victoria occupied when she attended the Church services during her visits to the town?
Other buildings of note include Thackeray’s House, now a restaurant, where the novelist lodged in 1860. Saint Helena cottage was built on the Common between 1828 and 1838; the caves beneath the cottage, (not open to visit) were used as air raid shelters during World War II.
Step into the past at Tunbridge Wells Museum and Art Gallery
The Museum & Art Gallery houses several collections including an impressive costume collection dating from 1700s and the largest assortment of Tunbridge Ware to be seen anywhere!
The Tunbridge Ware pieces were created by local family businesses in Tunbridge Wells and became popular souvenirs with visitors to the town. The extensive range of items produced included tiny pin cushions, snuff boxes, writing desks, tea chests and musical instruments including a large organ.
Frequent temporary exhibitions take place in the Art Gallery focusing on a particular aspect of life in Tunbridge Wells. These exhibitions enable the Museum to showcase some of the many artefacts that they hold which are not usually on display.
The regular free family events include monthly drop in arts and crafts activities on Friday and Saturday in the Art Gallery.
Not all the Museum events take place indoors! During the summer months the High Weald Walks, Mini Beast Safaris and Bug Hunts are a series of walks through the green areas in and around Royal Tunbridge Wells.
The walks are lead by renowned natural history expert Dr Ian Beavis and they are an exciting way to learn about our countryside, bugs and plants.
All these events are free but places are limited. For more information and to book please contact the museum.
Art comes alive in Tunbridge Wells! If you want to stimulate your visual senses there are numerous galleries in the town for you to visit.
Whatever your reason for stepping over the threshold, you'll find the galleries in Tunbridge Wells are home to a range of artworks in every media from paintings, drawings and watercolours to prints, photographs and sculpture.
Take a tour of the galleries in Tunbridge Wells by following our suggested route. For inspiration see our Galleries page.
Tall Tales and Unexpected Gems Near Tunbridge Wells
Stop and take a quiet moment of reflection as you explore the historic churches of the Weald spanning over a thousand years of history, not to mention the free artwork inside.
At All Saints’ in Brenchley enjoy the views from the churchyard which were a favourite of war poet Siegfried Sassoon.
The stained glass windows of the Church were designed and made by prominent figures in the Arts and Crafts Movement, including William Morris, Edward Burne - Jones and Robert Anning Bell.
St Mary’s churchyard in Goudhurst is located on the site of the Battle of Goudhurst. An infamous band of smugglers known as 'the Hawkhurst Gang' menaced the countryside around Goudhurst.
In 1747 the villagers helped by local soldiers fought and defeated the smugglers. According to legend the headstone in the graveyard with the skull and crossbones is a pirate's grave!
St Peter’s in Pembury is the location for the strange tale of Ann West, a member of the congregation in the eighteenth century. Ann had a terrifying dream that she had been buried alive whilst in a trance.
Scared that this dream might actually come true she arranged for food and drink to be taken to her coffin for twelve months after her death. The vault where her coffin rested was left open and the lid was not placed on her coffin.
The Wealden Church Trail leaflet will guide you as you discover more about the intriguing stories and heritage of the Churches.
I Spy in Dunorlan Park
From the centre of Royal Tunbridge Wells it is an easy stroll to Dunorlan Park, a favourite with the locals all year round.
The park, originally the garden of the estate owned by philanthropist Henry Reed was designed to be “in harmony with nature" by Robert Marnock.
The park opened to the public for the first time in 1946, in the same year Dunorlan House was damaged by fire and was demolished. Boating on the lake started in 1949 and proved so popular that it continues to this day. Two swans were bequeathed to the park in 1950 by King George VI.
Today the legacy of the original gardens are the lake, the spring, the fountain and Grecian Temple which together with 31 hectares of green space continues to be used and enjoyed by local residents and visitors to the town.
As well as the natural adventure play area there is the tree trail for them to complete where they can learn about some of the 730 species of trees that can be found in the park. Get them searching for the smallest tree, the tree with the most colourful leaves and the tallest tree.
Those who are interested in local history can visit the Victoria Cross Grove and learn about the lives of the ten recipients of the Victoria Cross.
An Active Holiday in Tunbridge Wells
If you are looking to keep active on holiday, Tunbridge Wells has options for walking, running, cycling or a game of tennis.
The Calverley Grounds in the centre of town has three tennis courts, two netball courts and a basketball court all of which are free to use. Booking is advisable. You can contact the parks team on Tel: 01892 554031 or Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
Put on your walking books and take a ramble through the stunning countryside that surrounds Tunbridge Wells.
The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that encircles Tunbridge Wells with its patchwork of rolling hills, sleepy villages and farmland is a walker’s paradise.
Walking is just as enjoyable in autumn and winter as in the spring and summer. Each season has its own allure. You get to see the countryside in all its splendour, not to mention the weather in all its moods!
There are short easy walks and serious hikes will enjoy the challenge or the more adventurous walks. Consider completing the Tunbridge Wells Circular, (27.5 miles) which takes in some of the finest scenery in the High Weald.
Don’t forget to take your faithful hound along!
If you are searching for inspiration for walking routes and trails in the local area, see our Walking page for suggestions.
Tunbridge Wells - a Breath of Fresh Air
Tunbridge Wells Common together with the Rusthall Common, just a short distance away, are both just waiting to be explored.
Look out for Fir Tree Pond a noted beauty spot in Victorian and Edwardian times and the famous Wellington Rocks. The rocks have been all things including a castle, a pirate ship and a magic island to name a few, to generations of children.
If walking is not for you, why not take a ball onto the Common for a game or two. If that seems too energetic escape with a good book or simply sit and watch as the world goes by.
The Commons are there for everyone to appreciate in their own way.
Pick up a copy of the trail leaflets that link the two commons and provide a series of short easy walks over well marked routes.
Into the woods around Tunbridge Wells!
After a delicious lunch in Tunbridge Wells venture out to the woods.
There are a number of woodlands that encircle Tunbridge Wells providing you with plenty of choice as to where to roam and stretch your legs.
At the southern edge of the town Hargate Forest, dating back to the Middle Ages, was originally part of a large network of forests that made up the Sussex High Weald landscape.
The woods which are home to numerous woodland birds and animals are complete with brilliant views and trails to follow which are particularly suitable for little ones.
Nellington Wood with its meandering stream and pond nestles in the valley between Rusthall and Langton Green, these woods form part of the access link to the Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk.
Don’t miss the spectacular bluebell display in Spring as the woodland floor is transformed into a stunning pool of blue.
Southborough Common lies behind St. Peters Church, where the old oak trees tumble away down to the stream. The strange sandstone ravine almost entirely covered in moss provides an oasis for creatures that creep and crawl!
Ashdown Forest is home to Winnie the Pooh. Discover the important locations where Winnie the Pooh and his companions had their adventures on one of two Pooh Walks.
The shorter walk includes the Enchanted Place and Roo’s Sandy Pit while the longer walk takes you to Eeyore’s Sad and Gloomy Place, and the North Pole, which was found by Pooh and is the starting point for many great expeditions.
Watching the Wildlife at Broadwater Warren RSPB Reserve, Tunbridge Wells
Being outside in the fresh air improves your sense of wellbeing so get out and find the wildlife that is in our neighbourhood.
A lot of work has been undertaken to restore the habitat at Broadwater Warren. As the existing conifer trees have been removed the sunlight has flooded back into the woods.
Native woodland trees and plants have begun to flourish again and wildlife has returned to the reserve. Once again the woods are home to dormice, nightjars, marsh tit and woodlark, butterflies and bumblebees.
The thriving pond is now visited by heron and a kingfisher as well as being home to dragonflies and frogs. Don’t forget to take your binoculars.
Need help identifying that bird that you saw as strolled along peaceful footpaths? Check out the helpful RSPB A - Z bird guide, which includes more than 250 species .You will find all the information that you need to know to help you.
Adventures by bicycle
Take to two wheels and feel the wind in your hair as you enjoy an exhilarating bike ride over the rolling Wealden terrain around Tunbridge Wells.
The Forest Way provides a flat family friendly and traffic-free byway of easy pedalling through exquisite countryside.
The Tudor Trail provides a more challenging cycle ride. The trail starts at Tonbridge Castle and follows the river Medway through Haysden Country Park to Penshurst Place. There are superb views as you come down the hill into the village of Penshurst.
For something more challenging try the section of the Avenue Verte cycle route (London to Paris) that passes close to Tunbridge Wells. With its steep climbs the segment from Groombridge to Heathfield is particularly demanding.
No matter what time of year you decide to visit Tunbridge Wells a warm welcome awaits you. We have accommodation to suit all budgets, take a look at our accommodation pages to find the perfect place to rest your head.
Tags: Ten Things To Do For Free in Tunbridge Wells