This review is based on my visit in December 2018 when I stayed for five nights through to January 2019. The site is generally open from the middle of March through to just after New Year and comprises of 66 pitches, 40 of which are hardstanding including eight fully serviced pitches. The grass pitches were, not surprisingly, out of use at this time of year. Non-Members are welcome subject to an additional supplement but tents are not accommodated. The site is easily reached from Junction 8 of the M20 and located just a few miles from Maidstone, around 28 miles from the Channel Tunnel and 37 miles from the port of Dover.
The Site Arrival video shows just how easy access to the site is. Note the hand car wash on your right and the site entrance appears very quickly on the left.
There were two arrival lanes, just to the left of the entrance barrier and further to the left some late night arrival spots too, with electric hook up as per usual. There was limited visitor parking over to the right. Both entrance and exit to the site is via a key card which is given once you have chosen your pitch.
The welcome from the wardens in reception was one of the friendliest I’ve had a on a club site – they couldn’t have been more helpful in pointing out features of the site and local amenities. the shop stocked a decent range of basics too. Most of the facilities were housed in the same block as the reception with the combined laundry and information room around to the side.
Another very comprehensive spread of information on local attractions, services, pubs, restaurants, takeaways and bus timetables. A list of mobile service engineers too if you need one. I didn’t get to try the washing up area but the gents facilities at least were immaculate – modern and well kept, protected – as was the laundry/info room – by a keypad, the code for which is given on check-in. Through the barrier and into the site itself, the first of the eight fully serviced pitches are to the right.
A one way system steers you right up a slight incline and past the Motorhome Service Point – always good to see that near the site entrance – and along past the only complete service point on site under a pagoda. Fresh water and rubbish collection points are dotted around but here is the only place to empty water and chemical toilet waste. The site – roughly square with a centre green – slopes away from west to east and the sought after pitches are the higher ones (10-20) giving a nice view over the surrounding fields.
The centre green is home to five grass pitches when weather permits with a further eleven off to the southern side of the site. Most of the hard standings were occupied during my stay but I did wonder if it might feel a little crowded with all the pitches in use. Worth mentioning too that this site does have a storage compound at the north western corner of the site – handy if you’re a frequent channel hopper I guess.
For the little ones there is a fenced play area in the bottom corner and for the four legged ones, a dog exercise area runs along the bottom of the site. I found the site to be very quiet at night – New Years Eve notwithstanding of course! There is some road noise, particularly during rush hour and there are occasional diversions off the M20 onto the adjacent road at night. For this reason the main gates are shut at 8pm to stop people using the site entrance to turn around – but they are not locked so you can still come and go as you please. Right, getting connected.
The usual club WiFi was available, rated gold by the club, and is one of the fastest I’ve come across on a club site, I didn’t bother to try out the TV but that is rated as fair with aerial hook ups available on the bollards.
A reasonable choice on the radio. Mobile wise, Three was a bit hit and miss but the other major networks reported a good 4G signal. When getting out and about it is possible to leave your vehicle on site and let someone else do the driving. There is bus stop by the site entrance and the 10X will take you along to Maidstone in one direction or Ashford in the other. Check out the timetable HERE.
The railway station at Bearsted is around a 30 minute walk from the site – halved if you jump on the bus although watch for return times as the buses don’t run late. Car parking is available at the station – for more details check out the Network Rail guide HERE. Trains run to London Victoria in one direction and Canterbury and Ashford in the other. Activity wise there’s no shortage of things to keep you occupied during your stay.
My time was limited but the highlight was undoubtedly Leeds Castle, just a few minutes drive away, or around twenty-five minutes on foot – again, slightly shorter if you hop on the bus. The castle and estate could easily occupy a whole day of your time – particularly in more agreeable weather when you can make the most of the grounds and perhaps take a picnic. Club members get a 20% discount on the admission price which trumps any online deals but do take your membership card and receipt – even then it’s around twenty pounds. As well as the castle itself, do check out the maize and falconry displays. A new kids playground, modelled on the design of Leeds Castle, is due to open in April 2019.
A little further afield the market village of Lenham is worth a wander around and a bit further away is Pluckley, where the ITV series The Darling Buds of May was filmed and is popular with ghost hunters too! Faversham, home of the Shepherd Neame brewery is around a 30 minute drive away as is the historic dockyard at Chatham. Sport wise, there’s fishing within a mile of the site at Major Lakes and golfers can head to Marriott Tudor Park , just half a mile away, or combine sightseeing with nine holes at Leeds Castle. Mote Park in Maidstone offers a variety of watersports for the more energetic with pay and display parking available. Turning, finally to the all important grog & grub, I only got to to try one pub during my stay but will heartily recommend The Oak on the Green in Bearsted – just under a thirty minute walk from the site. It was clearly very popular and we only just managed to get a table so if you are planning to eat there it might be worth booking. For groceries and fuel there’s a Tesco Esso Express and BP on the main road through Bearsted with more options a bit further along in Maidstone. Bearsted Caravan & Motorhome Club Site, Ashford Road, Hollingbourne, Maidstone, Kent, ME17 1XH.