The Times visits Bewl Water where Andrew Daniells, Business Director explains some of the changes they are making to bring more people to the beauty spot this autumn…
Bewl Water is the largest body of freshwater in the South East and the man-made reservoir straddles the boundary between Kent and East Sussex.
Privately owned by Southern Water but leased to Elite Leisure Collection (ELC), which runs several businesses in Tunbridge Wells, including One Media, publisher of the Times, Bewl covers more than 900-acres.
Leisure facilities such fishing and the aqua park help to find the more than £1.3million it costs each year to run and maintain the beauty spot.
And while the water is often the main attraction during the warmer months, recent changes have been aimed to make is Bewl the perfect place to enjoy some healthy outdoor family fun in both the autumn.
“It’s a beautiful time of year, and if you get out regularly enough, you’ll get to see the beautiful changing colours of the leaves,” said Andrew Daniells, Business Director of Bewl Water.
He said surrounding the reservoir are 12.5 miles of walking trails and cycling routes that follow a collection of forest paths and country lanes and in November, Bewl are introducing a series of new self-guided routes.
Designed to help visitors navigate their way through the extensive landscape, the guided walks will operate using three colours: red, blue, and green, ranging from easy-going strolls to longer distances allowing walkers and cyclists to see the reservoir at their own pace.
“The new walking trails will allow those looking to get outdoors this autumn the opportunity to explore the unique and unusual trees we have here as well as our beautiful wildlife,” explained Mr Daniells.
Just a short walk from Wards Lane, visitors can explore the bird hide which was built by the Sussex Wildlife Trust.
Species such as Great Crested Grebe and Little Grebe are present all year as well as Canada Goose, Mallard and Common Pochard, with further birds occupying the surrounding woods and farmland.
If you prefer cycling, Bewl’s bike hire shop can be found in the car park in front of the Waterfront Café offering a range of good quality mountain bikes for adults and children.
Andrew told the Times that the reservoir wants to encourage more families to get outside and make the most of their cycling routes.
“It’s socially oriented, fun, and great value for money,” he said. “Families can bring their own bikes, but if they need to hire some, we are offering 50 per cent off throughout November and December.”
The special offer means families can enjoy adult bike hire for £10 whilst a child’s bike will cost just £5.
On the southern side of the reservoir the trail borders a nature reserve which is irregularly shaped with many quiet inlets. Its multiple roles include the conservation of species and biodiversity and the conservation of ecosystems.
“Establishing these areas remains one of the most effective efforts for protecting our endangered species and their natural environment,” said Mr Daniells, explaining that the reserve is ‘out of bounds’ for water sports users including the 3,500 fishermen that occupy the reservoir each year.
He added that the lower autumn water temperature sees the start of the fishing season for pike and perch predator fishing and those experienced or new to the sport can hire one of the 50 boats available on site.
“We’ve made Bewl a lot more accessible to everyone who likes getting out on the water, whether fishing, paddleboarding or sailing’. added Mr Daniells, but there continues to be plenty to do for younger visitors.
“The two outdoor play areas are open year-round. One is for children up to six years old, where they can be supervised by adults, and the other – a large adventure play area – with a life size wooden galleon – is for older children. We think it’s one of the longest outdoor slides in the South East,” he continued.
Win an annual pass to Bewl
Bewl Water are kicking off the autumn season with a photography competition which will encourage both amateur and professional photographers to get outdoors and capture everything from wildlife, flowers, and landscapes through to woodland creatures.
The reservoir wants those of all ages to get creative and capture their ‘natural world’ giving the winner an annual parking pass worth over £300.
Those wanting to enter have up until the end of the season and can submit their photographs via Instagram, Twitter or Facebook @bewlwater
(Terms and conditions apply see Bewl Water’s website for more details)