Criss-crossing our fields and along our coasts, and most importantly linking up with our county’s attractions, are plenty of paths and walking routes which means you can go car-free and be care-free while at it - wherever you want to in Kent. In this piece we’ll give you some routes that are reachable by Southeastern train or bus and then from there just a short walk to our county’s top sights – including castles, coastlines, historic houses, taprooms and more, to make a day or even longer of it!
On the outskirts of the M25 with bus routes crisscrossing it, Westerham makes for the ideal first stop off on where to begin a countryside walk through to Winston Churchill’s home, Chartwell. On this trail, which totals 3.2km you will have a few hills (as expected for the area in which it lies, the Kent Downs National Landscape), but just as many beautiful vistas. Once you've wandered the walled and rose gardens, pondered his paintings in the studio, and looked through the treasures, head back into Westerham for a raft of independent restaurants to get your energy back.
Wherever you go in Dover, you’ll be able to spot the castle perched up on the hill - as soon as you leave the station (Dover Priory), take a left and this will come true! On this route, walk through the town's high street and admire its grand Georgian townhouses, until you reach the hill up to the Castle where you’ll be treated with coastal views. Inside Dover Castle you’ll see Secret Wartime Tunnels, royal rooms of the Great Tower, all the way back to a Roman Lighthouse. Plus if you show your train or bus ticket you’ll get a 20% discount! For your return journey if you feel you can’t make the descent, there’s a bus service which will take you from the castle entrance to the town's bus station (approx. 5-10 minutes’ walk from the station). When in Dover, be sure to also wander to the town's museum which has the world's oldest known seagoing boat, a Bronze Age wooden boat. Consider making a night of it with a stay in a beautiful property such as Keepers Cottages’ Castle View.
Sitting just off the River Medway is Halling, which is home to Moot Brewery a local and sustainable brewery with on site taproom and neighbours who make pastries and other local specialties. The brewery also happens to be a short wander around the beautiful blue St Andrew’s lake from Halling station. For those feeling adventurous continue on the train to Cuxton, where you can stop and head for a 30 minute walk to Ranscombe Reserve with its arable fields and ancient woodland. Finally, also on this train route is Maidstone, which is home to Maidstone Distillers, that makes for a reward in the form of a tasting of their aptly named Ranscombe Gin! End your evening at the Herbalist restaurant and celebrate the very best of local and seasonal produce.
Thank you to our friends at Produced in Kent for these suggestions.
Being a hub of not only cultural sites, restaurants and shops, the cathedral city of Canterbury is also home to a good amount of transport connections with buses and trains from London and towns and villages across the wider county. Using Canterbury as a base, embark on a few day walking trips that will take you through hilly landscapes, riversides and to the sea…
Firstly, the Elham Valley Way is a 22.5 mile route that heads down to Hythe on the coast through ancient woodlands, rolling hills courtesy of the Kent Downs AONB. Awaiting you on the beach is the comfortable Hythe Imperial Hotel, with sea views and spa to rest those ankles!
Secondly, along the River Stour lies the Great Stour Way, a three mile route between Canterbury and Chartham. This mixed use, meandering path is a peaceful escape from the city. Venture further to Chilham along this route and stay the night in the Woolpack Hotel which makes for a quiet spot moments from the village square.
Next, the resident favourite connecting Canterbury with the seaside town of Whitstable is the Crab and Winkle way, a mixed use path that you can join from Canterbury West deep into the woodland, an RSPB nature reserve, and out into Whitstable harbour and all of its restaurants and independent shops! Make a night of it and get the most of those sea views with a stay overnight at the Marine Hotel.
From Whitstable you can also connect to the beautiful town of Margate via Reculver, with an 18 mile route that goes almost fully along the coastline - taking around 1.5 hours on bike, but equally making for a gentle full day wander by foot, which leads us nicely into the next routes...
Art galleries, cliff stacks, historic tunnels and picturesque seaside towns – all covered in this trek around the Isle of Thanet coastline! Make a short break of it, and venture on the Viking Coastal Trail by arriving in Margate by train and walking approximately the 9 miles from the town centre, along past Palm Bay and Joss Bay through to Ramsgate. Our top pick for a stop off is the Botany Bay Hotel, which means you’d be able to also catch the sunrise over the cliffs nearby…
For those looking for a properly immersive experience with a trained local guide, then wander in Nordic Walking in Thanet. Not only will you work your legs, but with Nordic Walking you use poles to work your upper as well as your lower body. Offering taster or tailor-made stays, opportunities for treatments and accommodation at Langmead Gust House in Ramsgate, this could be the invigorating break you simply need!
Almost everything is accessible by public transport and two legs in Medway – whether you want some culture, local and tempting gins, or historic views. We’d recommend starting in Rochester by arriving by train, stopping at the Castle first and then opposite over to the staggering Rochester Cathedral. Wander back through the town and along the high street with its independent cafés and shops.
Approximately 25 minutes on the bus you can get to the Historic Dockyard Chatham, where the navy’s history and how the Dockyard was one of the country’s most important shipbuilding areas is told through its 80 acres. Continuing your journey into the districts history, wander along the edge of the River Medway to St Mary’s Island where you can do a circular route viewing Upnor Castle, and ships sailing up and down the River Medway. Take your rest for the night by retiring to the Ship & Trades.