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Family-friendly pod glamping beside a 30-year-old plum orchard, with far-reaching views across the Kent countryside

It’s only natural, when your farm has been around for almost 400 years, that it sees its fair share of change. Over the centuries Rankins Farm in Kent has gone from the hunting grounds of a local Earl, to a series of sheep farmers, to today’s owners, the Sunnucks family, who have been custodians of the place since 1963. Apple, pear and plum orchards, were the Rankins staples when Tony and Sarah took over, but it wasn’t until they converted an old barn in 2006 that they began to realise the next generation of opportunities for the place. A few years later ‘Glamping at Rankins Farm’ was born. A wise choice if you ask us.

Set in the heart of Kent, with the High Weald to the west and the Kent Downs five miles east, Rankins Farm is a family-friendly pod glamping site with far-reaching, southwesterly views across the Beult Valley. But this is no valley in the steep, dramatic sense. The land around the farm is imperceptibly sloping; a gloriously flat, sweeping space, with a huge paddock set aside for ball games and a playground for children to clamber on. The pods themselves – six in total – are lined out in a neat, picnic-bench-fronted row with gravel pathways leading up to them, while, behind, a 30-year-old plum orchard extends in a bushy L-shape around the field.

Built in 2018, the pods feature all mod cons. There’s under-floor heating, plush en-suite facilities and a compact kitchen area with a fridge, sink, hobs and a microwave oven. If the weather turns sour, close the floor-to-ceiling glass doors and enjoy the views above instead, where a Veltech television has been mounted on the wall. Not that Rankins Farm is about squirrelling yourself away. Outside, every pod has a cast iron campfire pit (with a swivelling grill pan for cooking) and games like giant jenga and badminton are available to borrow. Tony and Sarah can even help arrange bike hire, if you want, helping you get out and explore the local area.

In terms of where to start, there are plenty of options. History lovers will undoubtedly want to visit the famous fortifications of Leeds Castle, which is only 20 minutes away. Built on a lake island formed by the River Len, there’s been a castle here since as early as 1086, with today’s structure, sticking out into the water, as magnificent as any château in the Loire Valley. Sissinghurst Castle is also 20 minutes away, Bodiam Castle is half an hour and Hever Castle 45 minutes, while the nearby town of Maidstone (a five-minute drive) is home to a couple of good museums. For many, though, a walk in the surroundings is all that’s needed. A ramble in the Kent Downs, a stroll in Maidstone’s Mote Park or a picnic at Bedgebury Pinetum, home to one of the world’s largest conifer collections. You might even be allowed to take some Rankins Farm plums for dessert.

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The Owner Says

Rankins Farm, a peaceful holiday destination in the heart of the Kent countryside. Owned by the Sunnucks family since 1963, the estate was a working farm until 2017, and now provides first class accommodation for visitors to this beautiful county, with a small amount of top fruit farming still going on. Whether you are planning a weekend getaway or a fortnight’s holiday with the family, you’ll find a wonderful experience waiting for you at Rankins Farm.

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