Haysden Country Park

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Haysden Country Park
Barden Lake, Haysden Country Park - geograph.org.uk - 1530226.jpg
Barden Lake in Haysden Country Park
Coordinates 51°11′31″N0°14′51″E / 51.1919°N 0.2475°E / 51.1919; 0.2475 Coordinates: 51°11′31″N0°14′51″E / 51.1919°N 0.2475°E / 51.1919; 0.2475
Area64 hectares (160 acres (650,000 m2))
Created1988 (1988)
Operated by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council
Open7 days a week, dawn until dusk
Website Haysden Country Park
Kent UK location map.svg
Red pog.svg
Haysden Country Park shown within Kent (grid reference TQ23596315 )

Haysden Country Park is a 64-hectare (160-acre) country park and Local Nature Reserve on the outskirts of Tonbridge in Kent. It is owned by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council, the Highways Agency, Network Rail and the Environment Agency, and managed by the council. [1] [2]

A country park is an area designated for people to visit and enjoy recreation in a countryside environment.

Kent County of England

Kent is a county in South East England and one of the home counties. It borders Greater London to the north-west, Surrey to the west and East Sussex to the south-west. The county also shares borders with Essex along the estuary of the River Thames, and with the French department of Pas-de-Calais through the Channel Tunnel. The county town is Maidstone.

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council (TMBC) is the second level local authority for the Borough of Tonbridge and Malling in Kent, United Kingdom.



The park comprises 64 hectares (160 acres) of countryside [2] to the west of Tonbridge. The park has two lakes, Barden Lake and Haysden Water, and has a stretch of the River Medway running through it, [3] with various branches and streams. Consequently there are a large number of bridges, many of which are named. The park is home to a variety of wildlife including waterfowl, wild flowers, and insect life. [3] It is designated as a Site of Nature Conservation Interest, [2] and as of October 27, 2008 it has been designated a Local Nature Reserve. [3] [4]

River Medway river in South East England

The River Medway is a river in South East England. It rises in the High Weald, Sussex and flows through Tonbridge, Maidstone and the Medway conurbation in Kent, before emptying into the Thames Estuary near Sheerness, a total distance of 70 miles (113 km). About 13 miles (21 km) of the river lies in Sussex, with the remainder being in Kent.

Site of Nature Conservation Interest (SNCI), Site of Importance for Nature Conservation (SINC) and regionally important geological site (RIGS) are designations used by local authorities in the United Kingdom for sites of substantive local nature conservation and geological value. The Department for Environment, Food and Rural Affairs has recommended the generic term 'Local Site', which is divided into 'Local Wildlife Site' and 'Local Geological Site'.

The A21 passes on a viaduct near Haysden Water. [5] Immediately to the east of this viaduct, and roughly parallel to it, is the Medway flood barrier. The railway line from Tonbridge towards Redhill, Surrey also passes through the park.

A21 road (England) trunk road in Southern England

For other roads with the same name see List of A21 roads.

Viaduct A multiple span bridge crossing an extended lower area

A viaduct is a bridge composed of several small spans for crossing a valley, dry or wetland, or forming an overpass or flyover.

Redhill, Surrey town in Reigate and Banstead, Surrey, England

Redhill is a town in the borough of Reigate and Banstead within the county of Surrey, England. The town, which adjoins the town of Reigate to the west, is due south of Croydon in Greater London, and is part of the London commuter belt. The town is also the post town, entertainment and commercial area of three adjoining communities: Merstham, Earlswood and Whitebushes, as well as of two small rural villages to the east in the Tandridge District, Bletchingley and Nutfield.


The park was opened as a Country Park in 1988, but the land had been partly owned by the Tonbridge Council and had been used by the public long before then. It is still managed by Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council.

Cycleway on the Straight Mile National Cycleway 12 by The Straight Mile - geograph.org.uk - 1526272.jpg
Cycleway on the Straight Mile

Leading off the River Medway is the Straight Mile, which was dug in 1830. James Christie intended this to be a canal leading to Tonbridge Water Mill, but it was never filled with water. The Stone Lock, built in 1829 (also by James Christie) at Haysden, remains largely intact. It leads towards Haysden Water (and continues on the other side of Haysden Water, outside the park). The lock was intended for transferring barges between the level of the Straight Mile and the higher level of the River Medway. [6]

Another section of the park is The Shallows, a winding stream leading off the River Medway, with various gravel beds for crossing the river. [7] It was at one stage part of the River Medway, with meanders which were sometimes shallow and therefore difficult to navigate with large boats. Since the river was used by canal craft, a navigable diversion was constructed around this section. The Shallows then became a quiet backwater stream which is gradually developing into marshland. [8]

Meander A sinuous bend in a series in the channel of a river

A meander is one of a series of regular sinuous curves, bends, loops, turns, or windings in the channel of a river, stream, or other watercourse. It is produced by a stream or river swinging from side to side as it flows across its floodplain or shifts its channel within a valley. A meander is produced by a stream or river as it erodes the sediments comprising an outer, concave bank and deposits this and other sediment downstream on an inner, convex bank which is typically a point bar. The result of sediments being eroded from the outside concave bank and their deposition on an inside convex bank is the formation of a sinuous course as a channel migrates back and forth across the down-valley axis of a floodplain. The zone within which a meandering stream shifts its channel across either its floodplain or valley floor from time to time is known as a meander belt. It typically ranges from 15 to 18 times the width of the channel. Over time, meanders migrate downstream, sometimes in such a short time as to create civil engineering problems for local municipalities attempting to maintain stable roads and bridges.

Barden Lake was created when sand and gravel were extracted from the land between 1974 and 1980. Dragline excavators were used to dig the material out. The Lake is approximately 3.6 metres (12 feet) deep.

A World War II pillbox can be found in the hedgerow along the riverbank. This pillbox and others along the River Medway formed part of the Ironside Line. On 27 May 1944, Prime Minister Winston Churchill put General Sir Edmund Ironside in charge of creating a first line of defence against German invasion forces. [8] [9]

A project to name the 14 bridges that are included in the park was announced on 24 November 2008 at the Tonbridge Forum; names had been decided. As at 2015, this work appears to be complete.

How to get there

From Tonbridge, the Lower Haysden Road leads towards Lower Haysden and Upper Haysden. On the right (when driving from Tonbridge) is the visitor centre and car park. Regional Cycle Route 12 leads from Tonbridge through the park towards Penshurst, and can also be used by pedestrians. The nearest railway station is Tonbridge (1.5 miles to the visitor centre). [2]


The park is a setting for a variety of leisure activities.

Bridge in Haysden Country Park, with marker showing the name of the bridge Rainbow Bridge, Haysden Country Park - geograph.org.uk - 1526684.jpg
Bridge in Haysden Country Park, with marker showing the name of the bridge


This is run by Tonbridge & District Angling & Fish Preservation Society, and is controlled by a warden on Barden Lake. [3]


This is encouraged on Haysden Lake by Tonbridge Town Sailing Club for small vessels. [3]

Nature and Historical Trails

Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council publish guides [3] for people to use to discover the nature and history of the area. These walks have been described as "interesting" [11]


Since 2006 the park has been a Green Flag Award winning park. [3] [12] In January 2001, the park was applauded by the Tonbridge and Malling Access Group for its achievement in providing access for disabled people. [13]

Related Research Articles

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East Malling and Larkfield

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  1. "Haysden Country Park". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  2. 1 2 3 4 "Haysden Country Park". Kent County Council. Archived from the original on 14 April 2010. Retrieved 5 March 2018.
  3. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 "Haysden Country Park". Tonbridge and Malling Borough Council. Archived from the original on 2007-12-15. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
  4. "Haysden Country Park". Local Nature Reserves. Natural England. Retrieved 4 August 2013.
  5. "BBC - Kent - In Pictures - Haysden Lake". bbc.co.uk. BBC. Archived from the original on 2007-11-03.
  6. James Christie and the Penshurst Canal
  7. Tonbridge Collectables - Early Tonbridge Finds
  8. 1 2 https://web.archive.org/web/20110927074634/http://www.tmbc.gov.uk/assets/Leisure_Tourism/HaysdenHistoricTrail.pdf
  9. Pill Boxes
  10. Eden Valley Walk Walking Route
  11. "Kent Tourist Attractions". Tourist Net UK Guide. Retrieved 2009-08-25.
  12. "Green Flag Award Winners - South East". greenflagaward.org.uk. Archived from the original on 2009-06-21. Retrieved 2009-08-26.
  13. "Tonbridge Access Group gives awards". Kent and Sussex Courier. 2008-01-09. Archived from the original on 2012-02-22. Retrieved 2009-01-08.