If you need to find out anything about Bewl Water then this talented trio are on hand to help. We spoke to each of them about their involvement with the south east’s biggest reservoir and the special recreational activities that can be enjoyed
Andrew Daniells, Markerstudy Leisure Chief Operating Officer
WHEN DID YOU TAKE OVER THE RUNNING OF BEWL?
We got the keys on January 8 and spent the next nine weeks redeveloping. Our first project was the building that was formerly the sailing clubhouse but is now The Boat House Bistro.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO PUT IN ANOTHER RESTAURANT AT BEWL?
It was a no-brainer. As soon as we saw the fabulous view over the lake we knew it was the perfect spot for a bistro. If we provide those kinds of views with beautiful food then you know people will come – it’s that straightforward.
WHAT OTHER IMPROVEMENTS HAVE YOU MADE?
We’ve worked extensively on the grounds, carrying out that essential TLC that makes all the difference.
WHY DID YOU DECIDE TO OPEN TWO DIFFERENT RESTAURANTS?
We decided The Boat House Bistro would be all about the view and The Waterfront would be more family orientated. Children only want to eat when they’re hungry so the latter’s location near the play area is perfect.
DO YOU HAVE ANY ADDITIONAL ACTIVITIES TO OFFER AT BEWL THAT ARE CURRENTLY IN THE PIPELINE?
We want to make it somewhere people will want to go all year round and to make it seasonal. It’s obviously great thanks to all the activities that are on offer but it’s also a nice place to come for just a walk.
WILL YOU BE CHANGING ANY OF THE BIG EVENTS THAT HAPPEN HERE SUCH AS THE TRIATHLONS?
We’re keen to keep all the previous events such as the Dragon Boat racing and the marathons and triathlons. They are very popular and get people outside and active. That’s why we’re also introducing a water taxi service so visitors won’t be put off going for a long walk.
WHY DO YOU WANT PEOPLE TO COME ALONG TO BEWL?
It’s fantastic value for money. You only pay £2 parking now and you can also bring your own bike and a picnic, so if you want to entertain the family on a budget you can. Each time you come back there will be something different to do.
WHAT’S THE BEST THING ABOUT WORKING AT BEWL?
Sailing has been one of my passions for years and my ofﬁ ce overlooks the lake! I’ve also got a really good team of people here who are so enthusiastic. I’ve got the dream job, I really have.
ARE YOU KEEN TO HEAR WHAT THE PUBLIC THINK OF BEWL SO FAR?
Oh yes, very much so. We have a webpage (www.bewlwater.co.uk) where people can leave email messages or there are the usual social media platforms too. We really do listen and respond to people’s comments.
Howard Mackenzie, Bewl Water Estate Manager
HOW LONG HAVE YOU WORKED AT BEWL?
For the past 39 years. I have been Estate Manager here since 1995.
WHY HAVE YOU BEEN DOING THE JOB FOR SO LONG?
I think because I love it so much. The place has developed a lot over the years and I think that makes things interesting. A lot of changes have been made by the new management which I really welcome, such as the improvement of the bridleways, the general facilities, the upgrading of the estate and the refurbishment of the playground.
WHAT ARE YOUR MAIN AREAS OF RESPONSIBILITY?
The upkeep of the land predominantly and also the six ranger staff who work with me on the estate. I’m very pleased that the new owners are dedicated to providing good public access and encouraging more and more people to come to this wonderful site.
WHAT DO YOU LOVE MOST ABOUT YOUR JOB?
The location; the beauty; the variety and the wildlife that Bewl offers. I also enjoy the fact that no two days are the same.
WHAT WILDLIFE CAN PEOPLE EXPECT TO SEE?
Mostly birdlife – we have a range of birds from Osprey to diving ducks and grebes. You can see plenty of deer. It’s lovely that all this nature comes as part of my job.
DO YOU HAVE A REGULAR WORKING PATTERN LIKE MONDAY TO FRIDAY, 9 TO 5?
No, I do whatever is needed whenever. It also varies from season to season. I’m in the office half the time but out on site for the rest inspecting the land and lake.
WHAT, IN YOUR OPINION, IS SO SPECIAL ABOUT BEWL WATER?
I think simply because it’s outstandingly beautiful, in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s fabulous in all weathers and never ceases to amaze. I love watching how things change every season.
HOW MANY STAFF DO YOU HAVE ON SITE?
I have six rangers who work with me and then extra staff as and when we require them at busier times.
Phil Daley, Activities Manager at Bewl
HOW DID YOU GET YOUR JOB AT BEWL?
I actually applied via an advert I saw in the Times of Tunbridge Wells for investment funding. I was running a mountain bike coaching business and required some. I went along for an interview with three private investors and they said: “It sounds fantastic but we don’t want to invest in you – would you like a job?” I started here on January 9.
WHAT DOES YOUR JOB INVOLVE?
I oversee all the activities which include cycling, sailing, windsurfing and fishing. I am keen to introduce children’s bike coaching and provide birthday parties where they can learn practical things like maintenance.
CAN YOU TELL US WHAT KIND OF CHANGES WILL BE MADE AT BEWL REGARDING THE ACTIVITIES ON OFFER?
There are huge plans for the future. We want to look into doing holiday clubs and coaching camps for children too, one-to-one lessons, fitness courses and any activities involving a bike.
WHAT BIKE BRANDS ARE YOU WORKING WITH?
Marin, a company based in California. They make really good quality bikes that go the distance. Younger visitors can also hire our balance bikes or parents can rent the tag along bikes for their children.
IS THERE JUST ONE CYCLE ROUTE?
Yes and it’s shared by horses and walkers. Those who are really into cycling can get around it in about an hour but we would recommend people allow at least three hours or so for a leisurely ride. You can go off-roading through a mixture of fields, narrow country lanes and forest too.
YOU’VE ALSO GOT SOME DINKY NEW RANGER CARS HERE?
Yes they are proving to be very popular already! They cost £2 to hire and it’s an activity designed to get children thinking about safety and controlling a moving vehicle.
WHAT ELSE CAN VISITORS ENJOY?
Recreational boating is a key thing this year. People can now hire pedalos and rowing boats. We found that so many visitors came down and just wanted to get out on to the water.
Fishing lodge: 01892 890 352
Estate Office: 01892 890 000
Cycle hire: 01892 893935
Bewl Water Outdoor Centre: 03000 415 200
Rowing Club: www.bewlrowingclub.co.uk
Canoe Club: www.bewlcanoeclub.co.uk
Flyfisher’s Club: www.bewlbridgeflyfishers.co.uk
www.bewlwater.co.uk or follow Bewl on Facebook and Twitter
Bewl Water, Bewlbridge Lane, Lamberhurst Kent TN3 8JH