It is far more fun and environmentally-friendly exploring the Wealden countryside on two wheels instead of four. A new start-up company has come to the District replicating the turn-up-and-go bike hire to be found in major cities. So it doesn’t matter if you don’t all have bicycles, or struggle with securing them on the back of the car. Just use your smart phone, and off you go.

Countrybike, the company set up by husband and wife Tim and Suzy Seddon, allows you to hire bikes from pubs and other visitor locations in Wealden. It involves using a mobile app and internet-enabled locks. You are then free to cycle off and explore without having to plan ahead.

“This is a tremendously exciting development and I hope it enjoys the same success in Wealden as Boris Bikes have in London,” said Councillor Roy Galley, Wealden Cabinet member for Economic Development. “It allows visitors greater freedom to explore and exercise. It does so without creating any extra vehicle exhaust emissions which can cause long term problems for the habitat which our visitors come to enjoy. We’d like to see more environmentally-friendly tourist initiatives like this in Wealden.”

The Countrybike hire locations can be found in and around Ashdown Forest.  They are currently available at:

  • The Spa Valley Railway in Groombridge.
  •  The Anchor Inn in Hartfield.
  •  Tablehurst Farm in Forest Row.
  •  The Nevil Crest & Gun Pub at Eridge Green.
  •  Penshurst Place & Gardens, Penshurst.

A number of the locations are very handy for the Forest Way off-road cycle trail, which runs from Groombridge to East Grinstead.

On two wheels

“Our goal is to help people get out and explore our wonderful countryside by bicycle whilst also helping support local rural businesses too,” says Tim.  “So far, we are truly thrilled with the positive response we have had in starting up our business.”

An interactive map showing hire bike locations is included in Countrybike’s mobile app, Linka Go, which can be downloaded from Google Play or The App Store. Instructions on how to use the app, the bikes and where to find them are on the Countrybike website too; www.countrybike.co.uk . This also gives details of special promotions taking place over the summer.

Most bikes will suit young people and adults aged 12 years and above. Smaller children’s bikes are available for day hire too although need to be reserved in advance and delivered. Most of the bicycle fleet are 21 speed Hybrid Dawes bikes, described as perfect for exploring the local countryside.

Outside of Wealden, Countrybike hire locations can be found at The

Dirty Habit, Hollingbourne, Maidstone; The Poacher & Partridge, Hartlake Road, Tudeley. Also at The Plough at Leigh, Leigh Road, Hildenborough; and the Vineyard pub in Lamberhurst.