Bewl Water is a stunning reservoir on the Kent and Sussex border, not far from Tunbridge Wells. Typically it’s very much a Summer destination, but this Winter Santa and his Elves have taken residence to create The Bewl Water Christmas Experience. In addition to the traditional Grotto there is the opportunity to take part in a unique experience helping the Elves find presents for Santa on a train and boat treasure hunt. It sounds like these Elves have their work cut out, so my family and I visited this weekend to see what we could do to help…
Bewl Water is clearly signed on the A22 travelling South from Tunbridge Wells. As we arrived in the main car park, which was free on this occasion, we spotted the Santa Express waiting for us to board. Logan, at 15 months was extremely excited to see this brightly coloured locomotive, and I’ve got to admit it…so was I! There were clear signs to follow to check in on arrival. We were booked in at 10am when it was fairly quiet. There were no queues and we were given tickets for the train and treasure hunt maps to help us locate the missing items for the elves.
We were able to go straight up to board the train. After a short wait we were on our way. Daisy was very good at keeping an eye out for all the items on the treasure trail…telling us what to keep our eyes peeled for. It wasn’t long before we spotted Santa’s reindeer, sadly not the real thing but some handsome figurines. As we chugged our way down to the reservoir we also spotted piles of presents, the elf village and Santa’s sleigh. We were doing a brilliant job in helping our Elf friends!
We pulled up alongside of the reservoir. There ahead of us awaited our next mode of travel, The Bewl Belle. We climbed on board, excited about the next element of our journey. This was Logan’s first time on a boat and he was fascinated. We stood on deck, watching the wake and looking for furthers clues on the Santa trail. The crew started a joyful round of Christmas songs to top off this unique festive experience.
Having returned back to the check in point after enjoying another short ride on the Santa Express, it was time to prepare ourselves for meeting the main man himself! We were guided into a small room where there was colouring and a giant blackboard to entertain the children whilst we waited our turn. After a short while we were invited into the Grotto by the Chief Elf. She told us to knock on Santa’s door and shout Mince Pies and he would invite us in. We did just that…and indeed there he was, sat in front of a cosy wood burner, surrounded by presents and decorations. We sat alongside Santa on a bench whilst he checked his Good List to see if the children were worthy of gifts this year. Now, I’m not sure if the Elves were playing a trick on Santa….or whether his eye sight was just failing but he managed to get our children muddled with some other children. He got Logan’s name wrong, then asked Daisy how her Karate was going…when she’s never even tried the sport in her life! I’m pretty sure it was the Elves because poor Santa looked quite flustered when we pointed out his mistake. Fortunately all the confusion seemed to go unnoticed by our children, they were just thrilled to spend a moment with this very important fella.
Bewl Water Christmas Experience is a great alternative to the traditional Grotto. The train and boat ride were a wonderful experience for our 15 month old and our 7 year old really enjoyed the treasure hunt…and to top it off the reservoir is a tranquil setting with wonderful play areas. So get to it…go help those Elves get ready for Christmas Eve..be Elfish, not selfish!
Tickets for the Santa Express and Bewl Belle are £5 / person. The trip lasts approx 45 minutes.
Meeting Santa costs £8 / child (including a gift) and £3 / adult. Booking is essential and can be done here.