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Forests and woodlands of Kent

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Ellie Graham
13th November 2023

No matter where you are in Kent, whether you’re walking along the seafront enjoying those stunning coastal views or you’ve stopped off for a coffee in the town centre, you’re never far from the peace and quiet of our wooded landscapes. And for a county with two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, it comes as no surprise that we’ve got plenty of places within and between them to enjoy the outdoors. A walk through any of these spots is sure to leave you feeling refreshed, energised, and in awe of the beautiful natural world. Leave the phones behind, pack some snacks for the journey, and join us as we explore the Garden (and forests and woodlands!) of England.

Kings Wood

A sprawling, awe-inspiring display of the natural world lies across 588 hectares in Kings Wood, waiting to be discovered by those who wander through. Known county-wide for its bluebells in the spring, this spot doesn’t only shine for a quarter of the year – a visit during the autumn and winter months will see dazzling reds and oranges (and perhaps even fields of snow!), while the picnic areas make for the perfect lunchtime spot during the summer.

West Blean and Thornden Woods

If you go down to the woods today, you’re sure of a big surprise…with wild bison! Within the West Blean and Thornden Woods, in collaboration with Kent Wildlife Trust, you’ll find some amazing work being done to promote the biodiversity and thriving wildlife of the area. Not only have wild European Bison recently been re-introduced, you’ll also find Exmoor ponies and Iron Age pigs! Discover more about the Wilder Blean project, and we’ll see all you nature lovers there…

Bigbury Camp

Speaking of Iron Age, just a short hop from the hustle and bustle of Canterbury’s city centre, you’ll find Bigbury Camp, a hillfort in Howfield Wood, a site at which you can still see leftovers from its occupation in 350BC. Today, as well as these defensive earthworks from many years ago, you’ll find a wonderful range of wildlife, from astounding buzzards to the common lizard.

Bedgebury Pinetum

With a world-leading collection of conifers, Bedgebury Pinetum is most definitely one to add to the list whilst in Tunbridge Wells. Stunning colours run throughout the land, with towering trees and a magnificent lake ensuring your trip here is unforgettable. Miles of walking, cycling, and running trails are sure to give you some inspiration on how to enjoy the area while visiting.  

Great Comp Garden

Sevenoaks might be one of the most picturesque spots to visit this time of year, so if you haven’t had the chance to visit the Great Comp Garden, you’re in for a treat. Seven acres of rare plants can be found here, with ornamental grasses, a myriad of colour, and beautiful borders found in the garden, and the welcome of tea and cake in the Old Dairy tearooms.

Monkton Nature Reserve

Monkton Nature Reserve is the perfect place for a relaxing outdoor walk, with benches around the reserve where you can stop off along the way to enjoy those stunning views. Various activities throughout the year mean there’s never a dull moment when you visit, so bring the whole family along and get that much needed outdoors time, together.

King George VI Memorial Park

Remember when we said you could be within that great green within minutes, wherever you are in the county? King George VI Memorial Park proves our point, with a walk along its trail boasting a beautiful mix of wooded areas emerging onto wide seascapes. On the coastline between Ramsgate and Broadstairs, take the afternoon to stroll the grounds, soaking up the fresh air and stopping off at the stunning Italianate glasshouse café for a bite to eat.

© National Trust, Andrew Butler

Ightham Mote Circular Walk

Make a day of your trip to the woods as you set off on the Ightham Mote Circular Walk, taking you on an unmissable walk to Wilmot Hill. Travel the periphery of this 14th century property’s 580 acres, exploring several wonderful woodlands on your way to the end. Finish up back at Ightham Mote, where you can settle down with a warm drink in hand and a smile on your face in their cosy café.

Site of Weardale Manor at Toys Hill, Kent ©National Trust Images - Nick Dougan

Octavia Hill Centenary Trail West

Celebrate the life of National Trust’s founder as you walk the Octavia Hill Centenary Trail West. Charting some of the most important places throughout her life, follow the story of the philanthropist, writer, and artist who helped found the trust back in the late 19th century. The route takes you through Crockham Hill village, Mariners Hill, and all the way to Chartwell – bring your cameras and put your learning hats on as you embark on your journey!

Mote Park

Being one of Kent's finest free parks, at 450 acres of total parkland, Mote Park is the place to go to kick your way through crisp autumn leaves. Making a scene from the start, the entrance has rafts of autumnal leaves, which lead on a trail around the park itself leading, to the pinnacle that is the reflections on the lake - double up on those stunning views!

Maidstone River Park

Running along the River Medway, beat those blues with a touch of blue as you walk 12km from Teston Country Park to Allington in Maidstone River Park. Passing through Maidstone’s town centre, be sure to stop off and browse the wonderful range of independent shops, local food and drink, and historic sites within the county town.

Vinters Park

A beautiful reserve for flora and fauna within the area, Vinters Park is next on the list for those well-needed days of peace and quiet, away from the hustle and bustle of everyday life. As you move through the park, you’ll find a beautiful lake, as well as trails, steps, and footpaths all leading to somewhere new and exciting in your wild adventure…

Stay the night

With all this relaxing you’ll be doing, it’s probably a good idea to make the most of the TLC and extend your countryside R&R with an overnight stay in some of the best rural spots in Kent. You, family, and friends are sure to find the place that ticks all your boxes amidst Keepers Cottages’ array of properties. A dog-friendly coastal stay with two pubs nearby and open planned areas for evenings spent together awaits at Flint House in Kingsdown, while the Sycamores in Ash has all the cosiness and entertainment you could need, just a hop over from the heart of Canterbury.

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