Situated in the picturesque town of Tenterden in Kent, the Kent & East Sussex Railway is a lovely day out for the whole family. Check their website for departure times.
In addition to their beautiful old trains and rolling stock, they also run special events such as A Day Out With Thomas and Santa Specials.
The train runs from Tenterden Town Station where is a variety of facilities for visitors including a shop, Refreshment Rooms, a small children's playground and the Museum. There is also large car and coach park and there a small parking area for disabled persons on the station site itself.
As the train leaves Tenterden, the line falls steeply away towards the marshes and on to Wealden, where the scenery across the valley is particularly lovely and then the line curves sharply to the left at Orpin's Farm where the track levels out and crosses the main road before running into Rolvenden Station, 1½ miles from Tenterden Town.
We continue onwards towards the next station, Wittersham Road, through marshlands collectively known as the Rother Levels. To the right a series of channels dug at right angles to the railway were used to farm crayfish - the terrain generally is very wet and until comparatively recently was subject to frequent flooding. The trains now cross over the New Mill Channel where you'll see many swans, particularly in the winter months.
The line curves gently into Wittersham Road, a station apparently in the middle of nowhere, which had an exciting time during the Second World War when it was the depot site for a large rail mounted gun that fired at France. The ammunition store for this is still to be seen on the corner of the picnic site.
Starting from Wittersham Road the train follows the contours of the land rather than cutting through it. Romney sheep dot the landscape and you will often see turf-cutting as you cross this area. On the left the Hexden Channel and the Rother compliment the view and as you turn slowly up the valley, Northiam Station is reached after a level crossing.
Northiam Station was for 10 years the terminus of the line and has extensive parking facilities and a tea room. Parking is encouraged here for a trip to Bodiam for there are no parking facilities at that station. The village that you can see on the other side of the valley is actually Newenden and Northiam is one mile up the hill in the other direction. It contains a very interesting church, and on the outskirts of the village is Great Dixter, a marvellous medieval house restored by Sir Edward Lutyens and surrounded by magnificent gardens.
The next 3 miles sees the railway sweep up the valley. On the right you will see the magnificent medieval castle at Bodiam that was built to defend the highest navigable point of the Rother. We pass through fields which were once covered with the typical hop gardens that brought so much traffic to this railway, and we finally terminate in the immaculately restored Bodiam Station, so characteristic of the Victorian light railway.
Today the station building houses a booking office and adjoining waiting room. One side of this is a seasonal gift shop and refreshment outlet, the other, a staff kitchen. Across the yard is a modern visitor toilet building constructed in the style of a period coal merchant office. Next to this, constructed in 2015 by volunteers, is another waiting room. At the rear of the station, reconstructed hoppers' huts are complemented by a small hop garden. The Cavell Van is berthed in a siding at the station and is well worth a visit.
Bodiam Castle is a 5-minute walk away across the valley.
The Railway is open all year round, but opening times and days vary throughout the year. Please check their website before you travel.
Facilities On Site:
- AddressKent & East Sussex Railway, Station Road, Tenterden, UK
Opening Times Monday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Tuesday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Wednesday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Thursday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Friday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Saturday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm Sunday 9:00 am - 5:00 pm