First making a name for itself as a wool trading and shipbuilding center in the 13th century, the historic village of Tenterden is today best known as the starting point of the Kent & East Sussex Railway. Here, visitors can take a ride on one of England’s best preserved steam heritage railways—but not before exploring Tenterden’s shops, wood-beamed cottages, and Victorian townhouses.
Most people visit Tenterden to ride the Kent & East Sussex Railway, which runs from Tenterden through Northiam and terminates in Bodiam. Departures are more frequent in summer, with fewer trains running in colder months, and booking in advance is strongly recommended. However, the riverside town of Tenterden is a destination in its own right, with historic public houses, independent shops, and easy access to numerous walking and biking paths, the Weald region, and Chapel Down Winery.
Things to Know Before You Go
Tenterden station offers accessible restrooms and Blue Badge parking spaces, while all Kent & East Sussex Railway trains are accessible to wheelchair users.
There are plenty of walking and cycling routes to enjoy in and around Tenterden.
Tenterden is home to half a dozen historic pubs, including The Woolpack.
Tours of Chapel Down Winery are available year-round, and can include wine- and cheese-tastings for an extra fee.
The Tenterden Folk Festival is held annually on the first weekend in October.
How to Get There
Tenterden is located in South East England, approximately 60 miles (95 kilometers) from London and 23 miles (37 kilometers) from Royal Tunbridge Wells. To reach Tenterden by train, head to Headcorn station before connecting via bus. However, the easiest way to arrive is by private vehicle, following the A21.
When to Get There
Tenterden is busiest on the weekends, when there are typically two steam trains in operation, most months of the year. Summer is also peak time for train rides along the Kent & East Sussex Railway, and there are often both diesel and steam trains in operation throughout the week. Check timetables in advance to avoid disappointment. Trains aside, Tenterden is a pleasant year-round destination with an annual October folk festival and Christmas markets.
Seasonal Events on the Kent & East Sussex Railway
The Kent & East Sussex Railway hosts several seasonal events throughout the year, most of which require advance booking. Take a night off from cooking and ride the rails accompanied by a fish and chip supper; enjoy a nostalgic 1940’s weekend complete with singing, dancing, and Spitfire displays; or take the kids to meet Santa on the train from Tenterden in December.
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