It's always important to get out in nature, get some fresh air and get your blood pumping - so if you have a bike in your garage, it's time to get out and cycle around the varying landscapes in your area! We've got routes right across the county so you don't need to travel to enjoy a smooth path or a challenge with a few inclines. It doesn't matter whether you're a beginner or well on your way to making the Tour de France - make sure you take the opportunity to get out and explore Kent on two wheels.
When Julius Caesar arrived in England in 54BCE he encountered an the Iron Age tribe called the Cantii, which is where our county gets its name. The Celtic tribe are also the inspiration for a brand new cycling trail, the Cantii Way. Starting and finishing in Wye, this 145 mile route is a combination of quiet ways, country lanes, byways and bridleways taking in towns such as Dover, Whitstable and Canterbury, which people can use to cycle across Kent in 4 days or split up over a number of weekends.
No bike? No problem! Simply rent a handy electric bike from the award-winning UK Electric Bike Centre - Hire and Tours and set up on your unique bike ride across the stunning Weald of Kent countryside. Spy towering castles and picturesque gardens, Instagrammable villages and cosy pubs - and of course, make sure you stop by award winning vineyards for a tour and a tasting! Comfortable, reliable and with a large battery range, a UK Electric Bike is perfect for anyone paying a visit to the area - and the electric motor should help with any pesky hills!
Across Kent there are trails taking in some tough hills, effortless coastal paths and countryside pathways, and Explore Kent have put together some of the best to follow on a weekend or summer's evening. Between Swalecliffe and Reculver is the 6.7 mile Oyster Bay Trail which is home to a SSSI and takes in history and sweeping sea views. Just a little down the coast is the start of the Crab and Winkle Way, which is an old railway line between Whitstable and Canterbury – at 7.5 miles it’s an enjoyable mix of woodland, country and seaside finished by a little city centre. If those sound a little too challenging then the 3 miles between Chartham and Canterbury along the Great Stour Way (pictured) might be up your street. With a dedicated cycle path following the Stour it’s perfect for families and short jaunts.
What more do you need to motivate yourself to push the pedals around than the prospect of seeing one of Kent's most picturesque stately homes? With a relatively smooth 5.5 mile route from Tonbridge that is almost entirely traffic free, you'll take in the beautiful Kent countryside passing lakes, country parks and lush fields. Once you've arrived at Penshurst Place head to their Porcupine Pantry to get well fed for the journey back. If you're looking to up it even more, cycle a little south and pick up either the Avenue Verte route (which runs London-Paris fully) or roll from Tunbridge Wells right into Ashford on the 42 mile Wealden Cycle Trail.
With its stunning countryside, plenty of lanes and varying gradients, the Weald in west Kent is one reason that the Tour de France finished a stage in the county back in 2007. Take on your own challenge by cycling some of the 30km trails and tracks at Bedgebury Pinetum, or head to the rural villages of Cranbrook or Goudhurst. Similar to the Crab & Winkle, there is a disused railway line called the Forest Way that runs between Groombridge and East Grinstead - shaded and off road means it's fitting for the family cycle.
Thirty-two miles might sound a little bit much to the casual cyclist, but that is the full route of the Viking Coastal Trail in the Isle of Thanet so don't go backpedalling out of this bit just yet. Being a leisure route connecting the seaside towns of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate, you can hop onto this route from your home or nearest Southeastern station and enjoy it, cycling for as long or little as you wish. Along the way, expect to see historic sites such as ‘Hugin’, the Viking ship, to Dickens’ House through to the striking architecture of the Turner Contemporary. Being well signposted as it’s along Regional Cycle Network 15, the mostly flat route is open to amateurs and semi professionals alike.
Across in West Kent, Bewl Water is ideal for families as it’s very flat for newbies and little ones, and their cycle trails cover stunning lakeside views! But if you’re near the coast and enjoy being cooled by the sea air on a warm (or even cool!) day, take a ride along the Military Canal with for a few miles, or perhaps go right along the beach on the Princes Parade - a smooth and easy afternoon pedal.
23 July and 27 August
If your map reading skills aren’t quite up to scratch, or you fancy learning a little next time you take to two wheels, the Gravesend Historic Cycling Tours are the perfect way to soak up the history of this intriguing town. Pedal along the riverside, hear stories about the many historic sites along the way, and enjoy a guided ride without the hassle of map reading and route planning.
This 15-mile circular route provides the perfect chance to reconnect with nature. Taking in the Hoo Peninsular, the trail is rich in bird life, not to mention a story or two, with a vast maritime history and links to Charles Dickens himself! Start in Higham, where Dickens once lived and wrote oh-so many of his famous novels, and work your way along the route, looking out for Cliffe Fort, Cooling Castle, and Upnor Castle, the gun fort constructed under the orders of Queen Elizabeth I to defend her mighty warships.
The 15,000 acre King’s Wood in the Kent Downs National Landscape is one of our favourite spots for a bike ride. Once a royal hunting forest, today you’ll find sculptures, artworks, and plenty of mountain bike trails through the woods, along with hard forest roads. For more of a challenge, the Experience Wye woodland mountain bike loop packs quite the punch, with 455m of steep climbs, taking you 11.30 miles from pretty Wye village and through the gorgeous surrounding countryside. While the Experience Wye Chilham ride is a quiet ride along the River Stour, through quaint countryside, with a halfway point 14.7 miles in, handily placed in the beautiful village of Chilham.
One of the newest routes in Kent, this 6.5 mile linear route or 13 mile circular, takes you from historic Faversham to the ancient Perry Woods. Explore Faversham’s royal connections, gunpowder industry and marshes before heading inland to discover a wealth of wildlife, and panoramic views that have been an important vantage point for thousands of years and, perhaps most importantly, a welcoming pub to relax and refuel. And hill-seekers, we have head this one is a hilly adventure!
Perhaps one of our most famous routes around, did you know the North Downs Way is accessible by bike? The linear Riders’ Route follows the North Downs Way all the way from the Surrey Hills AONBs right through Kent Downs, but you can always split it into more manageable sections! Hill lovers, you’ll find plenty of rolling hills to work those muscles, while those looking for a more laid back cycle can choose one of the many flat sections. Better yet, much of the route is quiet and almost traffic-free, making for some beautiful routes along leafy lanes and through lush countryside.
If you’re hitting the cycle paths this summer, it’s important to have the right gear. Trust us, there’s nothing tougher than cycling miles in the heat in jeans and a cotton T-shirt. From Asics and Under Armour, to Nike, Adidas and Sweaty Betty, Ashford Designer Outlet’s sports brands are the perfect place to treat yourself to some new kit at outlet prices. And don’t go thinking we’re suggesting bringing the car for this trip, with cycle paths direct to Ashford Designer Outlet from Ashford International Station, not to mention bike racks upon arrival, we reckon it’s the perfect excuse to arrive by two wheels and save on the petrol.
Oh we do love to pedal along the coast in summer, and luckily for us a day out in Dover fueled by pedal power means visiting not one, but two castles! The Tudor fortresses of Deal Castle and Walmer Castle both rest on Sustrans Route One, so a coastal cycle is the perfect way to take them both in. Begin the morning at Deal roaming the underground tunnels and defenses that have stood here since Henry VIII’s time, before heading just over a mile along the coast to Walmer Castle. See those impressive grounds, wander the rooms that both the Queen Mother and Wellington once called home, before discovering the Kitchen Garden and Natural Play Trail out in those gorgeous gardens.
Our county is full of picturesque villages, coastal towns and everything in between, with each telling a story and this is exactly where Col's Kent Bike Tours comes in. Led by an experienced tour guide who'll provide rafts of knowledge, there are starting points across East Kent for you to join from and rides are suitable for all levels - but don't worry there are plenty of stops to take in the sights! If you have a little longer, consider hopping onto a Wild Weekend, that throws you right into nature - think wild swimming, campfires and plenty of resetting your mind...