Staycation in North Kent
18th May 2021
Historic sights, rich literary connections and some of Kent’s best kept secrets, a break in North Kent has surprises at every turn. Whether you’re in search of a cultural break or a coastal escape, allow us to take care of the planning as we share some of our favourite hidden gems in North Kent.
From the cultural hotspots of Rochester, Chatham and Gillingham in marvellous Medway, to historic Gravesend, the blue flag beaches of The Isle of Sheppey and foodie favourite, Faversham, spark your curiosity with some of North Kent's best attractions, places to rest your head, and most importantly, spots to indulge in local food and drink.
Please be sure to follow government guidelines when visiting, always check the website for the latest opening and booking information and take a look at our top tips to #RespectProtectEnjoy Kent.
An absolute must-visit on any trip to North Kent, believe us when we say, you could spend a full day touring the Historic Dockyard Chatham. From its Call the Midwife filming locations and the official set tour, to the Victorian Ropery, not to mention three historic warships and exhibitions dedicated to the age of sail, visit and you’ll soon see why The Historic Dockyard Chatham is one of Kent’s best-loved attractions. Plus, with this year’s brand new exhibition dedicated to the women who have lived and worked here throughout the age of sail, now is the perfect time to take a visit.
Kent’s largest military museum, the Royal Engineers Museum offers a real insight into Kent’s wartime history, the important role of the Royal Engineers and their links with the British Army. Discover 300 years of history, with 25 Victoria Crosses, Wellington’s map of Waterloo, a Harrier Jump Jet and even an enormous V2 rocket within their intriguing collection.
The nation’s second oldest cathedral, Rochester Cathedral is a real landmark within vibrant Rochester, so it’s no surprise that this magnificent building holds many historic, architectural and spiritual wonders. Established in AD604, the cathedral’s hallowed halls hold a medieval crypt and even a hidden library, while a stroll through the gardens will reveal the ruins of Bishop Gundolf’s Norman Priory surrounded by nature and wildlife.
In case you haven’t guessed already, this area is renowned for its nautical links, so it seems only right to set sail on your very own voyage. Climb aboard one of Jetstream’s cruises and you’ll have the choice of a wildlife spotting, history-fuelled sail around the shores of the Isle of Sheppey from Queenborough, or the chance to set off from Sun Pier in Chatham and discover the eerie World War II Maunsel Forts standing guard of the Medway Estuary.
We know you've heard of Pocahontas, but did you know there's more to this intriguing figure than the Disney tale? The Native American princess had an intriguing life that brought her right here to the shores of our very own Gravsend. Visit the Pocahontas statue at her resting place at St George's Church, scan the QR code, and the statue will relay the real story of the Princess' life from Jamestown, to London and finally to Gravesend.
The maritime links continue on a visit to Blue Town Heritage centre, a museum dedicated to telling the story of the Isle of Sheppey, packed with exhibitions and displays of memorabilia, all relaying the tale of this fascinating island. Central to the museum, this local favourite is also home to the Criterion, a restored Victorian Music Hall, that’s still home to live shows, performances and even a big screen cinema.
Gin fans, local distiller Copper Rivet’s brand new restaurant the Pumproom has got to be on your holiday bucket list this year! Set in Chatham’s Victorian pumphouse and overlooking the River Medway, it’s the perfect location for summer evenings and seasonal produce. Of course, sample one of Copper Rivet’s grain to glass spirits while you’re here (have we recommended the Dockyard Gin yet?), but prepare to indulge with an array of seasonal dishes and local produce on the menu.
We’d travel far and wide for this foodie haven, so if you’re in the area, it’s an absolute must. Choose from a range of Kentish produce in the food hall (trust us, their cheese selection is amazing), or sample dishes alfresco at the Food Village, an outdoor marketplace and dining space that boasts the very best in world flavours…think aromatic curries, wood-fired pizzas, brisket burgers and tempting tacos (now who else is suddenly very hungry?)
Once a favoured haunt for Dickens himself, this traditional pub even featured in The Pickwick Papers, so it’s no surprise it’s made our list of local favourites for the location alone. Hungry? Tuck into a traditional Sunday roast, sample traditional real ales, enjoy a proper afternoon tea in the beautifully beamed pub, or a bite in the peaceful garden. The choice for food is yours, but we’d recommend taking along one of Dickens’ best works to really make it an experience.
Stay the night
Resting on the edge of Chatham Maritime Marina, expect great views and an excellent location upon checking in at The Ship & Trades. Each of the 15 boutique rooms is uniquely styled with a nod to the area’s naval heritage. What’s more many of the rooms come with a side of marina views, but for the ultimate scene setting, we recommend choosing one of the two rooms which have a private waterfront balcony – oh just think of those Instagram snaps! Finish off your stay with a delectable breakfast and you’ll be set up and ready for a day of adventure, with 10 newly commissioned sculptures to be discovered through the streets, along with plenty more cultural highlights to come as part of Medway's bid for UK City of Culture 2025.
Pay a visit to the beautiful market town of Faversham and you’ll discover one of our favourite historic pubs, The Sun Inn. Original fireplaces and oak beams…believe us when we say this 14th century inn’s 12 bedrooms are packed with charm and original features. In the heart of Faversham’s conservation area, there’s a myriad of things to do right on your doorstep, with countryside walks and markets to be discovered, alongside must-visit Shepherd Neame, Britain’s oldest brewer, as they reopen their doors to tours from July.
Sitting in the heart of a National Nature Reserve, a stay at Elmley is truly an experience. Wake up to wide sweeping views and wildlife sightings from the comfort of your very own beautifully styled room in The Farmhouse, before venturing out right into nature (when we say it’s right on the doorstep, we really mean it). For family groups looking to reconnect this summer, a stay at Elmley Cottage has got to be on the cards, with a big open plan kitchen and living area making a perfect setting for family meals, games nights and seasonal dishes.
If like us, you’ve been dreaming of escaping to the coast, Golden Leas Holiday Park on the beautiful Isle of Sheppey offers the chance to own your very own slice of seaside living. 22 acres of parkland, coastal views, heated pools…the location alone is enough to have us dreaming, and with each luxurious lodge finished to a high standard, it’s the perfect summer home from home.
Travel with Arriva
As restrictions start to lift and the government’s plans to ease out of lockdown come into effect, Arriva are here to support our local communities. Plan your journey, track your bus in real-time, buy, store and activate tickets all in on one handy app. Search Arriva UK Bus app in your app store which is free to download or visit www.arrivabus.co.uk/app. You can also plan your journey, buy tickets and check out the latest news and offers online at www.arrivabus.co.uk. All Arriva buses are COVID-19 secure, to find out more please visit www.arrivabus.co.uk/help/coronavirus
As our worlds begin to open up again, Southeastern Railway are looking forward to welcoming you back on board their trains. Whether you’re continuing to travel for work, starting to think about returning to the office, planning to meet friends and family or are looking forward to visiting one of the wonderful destinations in Kent, Southeastern are there to help and support you every step of the way. Travel looks a little different from before and Southeastern want to reassure you that they are doing everything they can to help make you feel more comfortable, such as cleaning trains more frequently with anti-viral products, regularly wiping high touch areas and supplying hand sanitiser points at busy stations. So whenever you are ready and when it feels right for you, whatever journey you are taking, Southeastern want you to feel you can travel safely and with confidence.