Bewl Water (c) N Chadwick
Bewl Water

One of the finest recreational areas in the south of England, and the largest inland body of water in the south-east, Bewl Water is a man-made lake set in the midst of the Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The lake is just the centrepiece of an 800-acre countryside park offering stunning scenery.

Surrounding the lake are 13 miles of walking trails, with family play areas. There are a variety of recreational opportunities, with sailing, fishing, and cycle hire. You can also take a pleasure cruise on the lake.

On the northern side of the reservoir is a family activity centre with an adventure playground and children's activities such as quad biking and model boating. The Bewl Water Outdoor Centre, operated by Kent County Council, offers adventure activity programmes for youth groups and schools, including rock climbing, orienteering, canoeing, and sailing.

The Bewl Water Walk is a 12.5-mile walking trail following the shore of the lake. The trail is open to walkers, horse riders, and cyclists (bring your own cycle or rent). On the southern side of the reservoir the trail borders a nature reserve.


By the middle of the 20th century, it was obvious that the Medway towns of Kent and Sussex needed a reliable source of water. The area's growing population meant that relying on the underground aquifer simply would not be sufficient.

The Bewl area had the advantage of being close to the target destination for water, yet relatively isolated and sparsely populated. In addition, there were local deposits of clay and sandstone which could be easily quarried and used to create a reservoir.

Work began in 1973. A 900m dam was built using clay quarried on-site, reinforced with local sandstone blocks. The bank was protected with a layer of gravel topped by concrete slabs to counter erosion. Pipes ran under the dam so that the River Bewl could continue to flow as it had always done.

Two concrete towers were added; one to act as an overflow and the other to draw off water. The lake created by the dam covers roughly 770 acres of land. Construction finished in 1975.

The Bewl reservoir holds over 31,000 million litres of water and provides drinking water for large areas of Sussex and Kent. There is enough water in the reservoir to provide an average of 150 litres of water to 200 million people every day.

Bewl Water is signposted off the A21 south of Lamberhurst. Next to the reservoir is a visitor centre with a restaurant and conference venue. Be aware that there is a charge for parking.