This tiny village in Kent, which has a population of around just 850, takes its name from its spectacular castle where a well-known former politician once lived. For a place so small, Saltwood has quite a lot to shout about in addition to the castle which was the home of the late Alan Clark, a minister in Margaret Thatcher’s government.
It has a restaurant, the Hide and Fox, which has just been named in the Top 100 places to eat in the UK for 2024 by restaurant guide Harden’s. Just six restaurants in Kent landed a spot on the prestigious list.
Chef Allister Barsby and manager sommelier Alice Bussi are behind the success story, and the guide showcases its two tasting menus of “modern British cuisine served in an intimate and relaxed environment”. The restaurant has the full five stars out of 297 reviews on Tripadvisor.
The latest review from December said: “Fantastic restaurant. On point service, a knowledgeable sommelier with great wines, amazing food, a relaxed enjoyable atmosphere, what more could you want.”
There is also the award-winning Brockhill Country Park, which is a fantastic place for a visit, and pick your own at Garden House Orchards which sells Christmas trees each winter and has the scent-filled, glorious The American Garden.
Meanwhile, you can visit Saltwood Castle on one of the rare times each year it is open to the public. The romantic, medieval castle is one mile north of Hythe, and many films and television programmes have been filmed there including My Weeks with Marilyn, and The Tripods.
There is a moat, battlements, a secret garden, peacocks and, on occasions, you can view Mr Clark’s classic car collection. The castle, where Jane Clark, the widow of Mr Clark, still lives, has regular charity fundraising events, open days, and educational and private group tours.
Saltwood is in the Folkestone and Hythe District and is on high land above the wetlands of Romney Marsh. It is served by Sandling Railway Station, which is just a third of a mile away, and is around 59 miles from London. It takes about 95 minutes to get to Charing Cross with Southeastern.
It has a village hall, a convenience shop Saltwood General Stores, a cricket club which plays league cricket from May to September and which has a great Facebook page. The club’s wicket was “scalped, scarified, seeded, and covered with loam” in September, ready for this year’s season.
There is also The Castle Hotel on The Green which is only a 10 minutes’ drive from the Channel Tunnel terminal, and has easy access to the Port of Dover for ferries. It is also close to some great visitor attractions including Hayne House, Lympne Castle, Westernhanger Castle, Port Lympne Safari Park and Etchinghill Golf Course.
There is also the Saltwood Boxing Day Run, which looks fantastic fun, and takes participants on a three-mile loop around footpaths, fields and trails in and around the village. If you fancied moving to Saltwood, the average house price on Rightmove during the past year was £573,737, with most sales being detached properties selling for an average £784,444.
Semi-detached homes sold for an average £441,200, with terraced properties fetching an average of £350,000. And house prices are falling in Saltwood: during the past year they dropped by 14 per cent and were one per cent down on the peak in 2021 of £579,922.
The village has Saltwood Church of England Primary School rated “good” by Ofsted and there is the Brockhill Park Performing Arts College, an academy for 11-18 year olds. It has performing art status with rural dimension status.
Brockhill Country Park is home to wildlife which flourishes in its varied habitats, and it’s perfect for a visit too, with its tiny waterfalls, a bamboo forest, and even breathtaking views of the English Channel. The park gives families an opportunity to get out in the fresh air and explore a central lake, meadows, woodland, enjoy picnic areas and a large children’s play area, with swings, climbing frames and monkey bars.
At Brockhill Café, which also caters for vegetarians with its homemade veggie burgers very popular, you can find everything from homemade soups, hot food, paninis and snacks to fresh ground coffee and ice cream. This attraction, formerly a pleasure garden, and owned by Kent County Council, is certainly a hit with visitors who rave about it and who have given it 4.5 stars out of a possible five on Tripadvisor.
Many people say it is great for children of all ages, as there is a good-sized children’s play area and plenty of places for children to “run wild”. There is also a “nice little café” and “good toilets”, said visitors. One said: “A lovely place. Fantastic for walks and trails. Also dog-friendly and the café has great 5-star food. Can’t say anymore. Just give it a trip.” Find out the walking routes and what you will see here.
There is also Garden House Orchards, an important part of life in Saltwood, where you can pick your own fruit from June to October and come December, you can get your Christmas tree there. The range of fruits you can buy there is vast, from five different types of plums; blackberries, jostaberries, blackcurrants, gooseberries, loganberries and cherries. There are also four different varieties of apples.
It reopens for May, with its The American Garden. It takes its name from the Californian Redwood tree planted 150 years ago at its centre. It’s a place of tranquillity, brimming with a vibrant array of rhododendrons and scented azaleas, interwoven by sunlit glades and meandering pathways. During May it is open daily from 2pm to 5.30pm.
One visitor said in reviews on its Facebook page: “Such an amazing place to visit, a true hidden gem. Walking around fills one with tranquillity and peace. Thank you so much for sharing this little corner of paradise.”
As KentLive reported in May 2018, cardboard cut-outs of Harry and Meghan put outside a cafe two weeks before their wedding caused quite a stir in Saltwood. They were put there by David and Claire Sercombe, who moved to Saltwood three years earlier, and opened the former Bertie’s of Saltwood.
Opening times of Brockhill Country Park
Opens 9am, closes at dusk or 9pm, whichever is earlier. Closed on Christmas Day.
Café opening times
September 1 to December 3: 10am to 4pm. December 4 to January 24: closed
The Brockhill Café – what type of food does it serve?
The Brockhill Cafe is very popular and sells a broad range of homemade soups, hot food, paninis, salads and snacks at very reasonable prices alongside fresh ground coffee. The café is famous for its homemade veggie burgers. Ice cream is also available, including a dairy-free range and other gluten-free products. The café only accepts cash payments. There is also a picnic area in the park.
Toilets are located at the entrance to the park near the café. There is one unisex accessible toilet which is available during park opening times. It does not require a RADAR key.
Dogs at the park
Dogs are welcome at the park but should be kept on leads close to the car park and café areas. Dogs must always be kept on their leads in the valley, where sheep graze. They are not allowed in the play area. Clear up after your dog and put waste in the bins provided.
Where to park and address of park
Brockhill Country Park, Sandling Road, Saltwood, CT21 4HL.
There are 50 parking spaces and two disabled parking spaces. Monday – Friday: £2.50 per day. Weekends and bank holidays: £3.50. You can pay by cash, card or an app Ringo, PaybyPhone and Park Buddy. If you don’t have any phone signal at the park, you have until 11.59pm on the day of your visit to pay.
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