Set on the border of Kent and Sussex and with a 12.5mile perimeter, Bewl Water is South East Englands largest lake.
We were advised to cycle anti-clockwise around the lake, and to include a short road section to miss out the most “swampy” areas. The weather was overcast but I worked up quite a sweat pedalling through the dirt and undulating terrain. (The website advises that if you have kids to take the clockwise route to the pub which is flatter and shorter!)
There weren’t any hills on the Bewl Water Route, but the slight detour we took up onto the road included a short sharp climb which I may have walked up! This was a quiet country lane with little to no traffic apart from other cyclists.
From the road we were able to head to The Bull Inn at Three Leg Cross to rehydrate. The pub has loads of picnic tables outside and are used to hordes of people on bikes turning up, although the food seemed priced to take advantage of this. We snacked on a stash of Clif bars and Tunnocks caramel wafers instead!
My legs were pretty tired by now, so I took lots of photo stops to admire the gorgeous scenery.
If you’re interested in running round the lake in an organised race, then the Bewl Water Marathon and Half Marathon takes place on the 9th May! They even have an Ultra in June, although this is just 4 laps of the lake… It should have dried out a bit by then, but I’d definitely recommend trail shoes!
Eventually we cycled across the dam at the top of the lake (reservoir) and arrived back at the bike hire centre. I wasn’t sure when we started if Bewl Water was a natural feature, but turns out it was constructed in the 1970s and provides water for the Medway Towns of Chatham, Rochester and Gillingham, as well as local villages.
Random fact- you could stack six London buses on top of one another in the deepest part of Bewl and they would all be underwater!
I really enjoyed heading off-road and tackling a muddy scenic cycle route- it’s not proper mountain bike single track, but definitely more challenging than pootling along the river in London. And so nice to ride without worrying about the traffic! There were a lot of families with kids, and other people about- both cycling and walking, so I imagine in the summer it could get pretty busy.
Post-ride refuelling came in the form of fish and chips from The Dirty Habit up the road in Hollingbourne, which I can also highly recommend!
Are you a fan of off-road trail cycling? Any local recommendations for places I should ride next?