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Popcorn Camping Paddock Wood Popcorn Camping

UK England South East England Kent Tunbridge Wells

  • Campfires allowed
  • Dogs welcome
  • Good walks nearby
Back-to-basics, off-grid camping pitches on a school field in Kent – less than an hour outside London.

When school’s out for summer over at Mascalls Academy, the playing field is being put to good use. The school has teamed up with entrepreneurial events organiser, Scott Doane, to bring campers to the Kent countryside via Popcorn Camping Paddock Wood. It’s a neat idea that Scott has used successfully elsewhere, making use of otherwise empty spaces to increase camping capacity at a time when it’s in hot demand. We’d give that an A-plus for ingenuity.

The site at Paddock Wood is one of several popping up under the Popcorn Camping brand on school fields and rugby pitches across the UK. All offer a simple, no-frills camping experience in areas that you might otherwise not get to visit. At Paddock Wood, you can expect spacious (10m by 10m) park-on pitches with campfires allowed in off-ground fire pits. Facilities are provided in the school buildings and include flushing loos and hot showers under a solid roof. Water points and open-air washing-up sinks are dotted about in the field.

The real advantage of a stay here is a location that’s an easy commute from London. It’s an hour’s drive or a 40-minute train ride (there’s a station a mile from the campsite) which means you can be kicking back by the campfire by 7 pm on a Friday. The next day you’ll want to get out and explore, and it’s National Trust cards at the ready with plenty of grand houses and stately homes in the area. Ightham Mote and Sissinghurst are choice options for members, with Hever Castle and Penshurst Place under individual ownership but still well worth a visit. In hot weather the aqua park at Bewl Water, the largest reservoir in the South East, provides a good place for a splash about and nearby Bedgebury Arboretum is great for shady woodland walks.

Details

Facilities

The facilities are all in the school buildings near to the camping field and include eight hot showers and plenty of flushing toilets. There are also drinking water taps and open-air washing-up sinks in the field. Firepits and BBQs are allowed as long as they are off the ground. Pitches are 10m by 10m and an extra pup tent, gazebo or awning is allowed. Fire pits are available to hire on site and logs for sale.

Suitable For

Campers, couples, families, small groups, dogs (on leads) – yes. Campervans, caravans, motorhomes, all-adult groups – no.

Nearby

This area of Kent is famous for its fruit and hop growing with many of the iconic oast houses (once used for drying hops used in beer brewing) scattered across the countryside. You can see a few of them at The Hop Farm (01622 872068), three miles up the road, which has a family fun park that is good for younger kids and often hosts events. The town is six miles from Royal Tunbridge Wells, its historic Pantiles shopping arcade, shops, and restaurants. Surrounding villages such as Brenchley and Matfield are pleasant places to explore, and there's a wealth of historic houses and castles to visit including Hever Castle (01732 865224), Sissinghurst Castle Garden (01580 710700), Penshurst Place (01892 870307), and Ightham Mote (01732 810378) all within 20 miles of the site.

Food & Drink

It is less than a mile to the town of Paddock Wood, where there's a variety of shops, pubs, and restaurants. The Foresters Arms (01892 833848) is recommended.

Open

July and August only.

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Location

Contact Popcorn Camping Paddock Wood, Maidstone Road, Paddock Wood, Tonbridge,Kent TN12 6LT

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Getting There

From the M25 take the A21 towards Hastings (or from the south, head north on the same road until you reach the B2160 (Maidstone Road), signposted for Paddock Wood. After three miles, Mascalls Academy and Popcorn Camping will be on the right. Paddock Wood train station is just one mile from the campsite (the train to/from London takes just 40 minutes).

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