7 of the Best Walks in Kent

7 of the Best Walks in Kent

A beautiful corner of the UK, Kent is characterised by its natural landscape made up of sea-lined chalk cliffs, expanding woodlands, rolling hills, open farmland, country estates and luscious orchards. A walk in this paradise can see you marvel at Canterbury Cathedral one moment and meandering alongside the White Cliffs of Dover the next. It’s no surprise that Kent is fondly known as the garden of England.

And with Kent only a stone’s throw away from the capital, it is the ideal place for city-dwellers to escape the hustle and bustle of London for the day. The patchwork of villages, sea towns and countryside are home to many trails everyone will love. In this guide, we’ll walk you through the best walks in Kent, ranging in abilities.

Elham Valley Way

Level: Moderate
Not suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

Field in Elham Valley Down.
Despite its flowery name, the Elham Valley Way is a moderate walk for hikers who want a challenge or love being out in nature for hours. The trail leads down from the cathedral city of Canterbury through the coastal town of Hythe and a tapestry of countryside to the Kent Downs, covering around 22.5 miles in total.

The woodlands here are ancient, dating before the 17th century. A carpet of bluebells, anemones and wild garlic appear in the spring, while autumn months see the woods turn to a range of reds, oranges and golds.

Displays of spring blossom will be all around at the moment, bringing colour and life to your walk.

Scotney Castle

Level: Easy to moderate
Not suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

A moderate hill around Scotney Castle makes for a pleasant stroll around the estate grounds. The 700 acres at this National Trust estate lies within the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, making it a beautiful setting for a leisurely walk. The views of the castle’s design, with a little stream that trickles into the castle moat and a bridge that leads to the ruins of the ancient castle, only add to the experience.

The two-mile trail around the property is easy for the family, including the dog who is welcomed here (although they will need to stay on their leads within the gardens). The River Bewl meanders nearby, leading into the Bewl Reservoir where a 600-year-old tree stands strong with its gnarly trunk.

This is an excellent walk for all the family. Free parking is available but can be limited when busy.

Minnis Bay to Reculver Country Park

Level: Easy
Suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

Monastery ruins at Reculver Country Park.

For an easy walk, look towards the sea trail between Margate and Whitstable, suitable for every member of the family. The walk is suitable for buggies and wheelchairs with a flat, flowing pathway between the starting and ending points. The trail is around 12km in length, but you can cut this in half if required and catch public transport back to your car.

Expect to see a wealth of local wildlife including seabirds flying overhead and to your side, views over the Thanet coastline which the Vikings and Romans sailed to conquer the land.

Hiking footwear will not only make the walk comfortable for the whole family but will also come in useful when clambering to check out the rock pools when the tide is out.

The highlight of the walk is without a doubt the monastery remains. The two towers overlook the coastline and make for a scenic picnic spot to replenish yourself after the walk.

North Downs Way

Level: Easy to Advanced (depending on routes taken)
Not suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

The North Downs is one of the most renowned walks in Kent, seeing you follow in the footsteps of pilgrims along the legendary Pilgrims Way. The history behind this iconic trail is the pilgrims who ventured from Canterbury to Winchester to pray for St Swithun who was buried at the cathedral. On the reverse, the path was used for pilgrims to travel to Canterbury Cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey to pray at Thomas Becket’s shrine. Furthermore, Archbishop Segeric used the route from Canterbury to Dover in 990AD as another pilgrimage journey.

The heritage of this trail extends beyond the pilgrims’ trips and is the home of many palaces, stately homes, Neolithic sites, Roman and Napoleonic forts, WW2 fortifications and medieval castles. Due to its proximity to London, this area was highly regarded as an ideal spot to defend the city from invaders coming in from the Channel.

Aside from its history, the diverse landscape will surely captivate. The North Downs will take you on a journey over hills, through grasslands and ancient woodlands to pass through valleys and reach the striking White Cliffs and an infinite blue coastline. The route will take you through many sites of special scientific interest, with rare species (most notably the butterflies and orchids) calling this place their home.

The 153-mile stretch between Farnham, Canterbury and over to the White Cliffs of Dover makes up the North Downs. Eager hikers will want to tackle the most of it, resting their head at villages and towns along the way. Planning your 153-mile hike couldn’t be easier with the help of National Trails maps. For those that want to sample what the North Downs has to offer, shorter, circular routes are available on the Explore Kent website.

White Cliffs of Dover

Level: Moderate to Advanced (depending on routes taken)
Not suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

The White Cliffs of Dover.

Although the North Downs leads to the White Cliffs of Dover, they are most certainly worthy of their own specific mention on this list. These iconic cliffs attract thousands of visitors each year to walk along the 16-mile stretch. It goes without saying that the cliffs are one of England’s most spectacular natural features, synonymous with national hope and freedom.

The White Cliffs of Dover have appeared in many top places to walk articles – we believe it’s those unrivalled views out to the English Channel that clinch the deal. Yet, inland a plethora of flora and fauna await your discovery. When the sea breeze has turned your cheeks rosy, duck into the Visitor Centre on Langdon Cliffs for a warming coffee and a spot to eat.

As a National Trust site, parking charges may apply. Check their website for more information when planning your walk.

Jeskyns Country Park

Level: Easy
Not suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

The fairies and elves of Kent live in Jeskyns Country Park, making this walk an enchanting affair for anyone who visits (especially the kids!). Tree Top Village, Mushroom Manor and Acorn Apartments are just a few of the tiny homes you will see on your route.

The fairies and elves share this park with an array of wildlife and your 1.25-mile walk around Jeskyns Country Park will give you plenty of opportunities to spot some. This gentle walk welcomes families to discover the wonder and charm of this natural and magical spot.

Ham Street Woods

Level: Easy (Easy access trail)
Not suitable for buggies and wheelchairs.

A view of bluebells and ferns in woodland

Talking of magic, we’re sure there’s also some down at Ham Street Woodlands. This woodland is not far from Ashford, and although the walk is small – at only half-a-mile long – it’s worthwhile. The Ham Street Woods has an ancient past, considered the spot of a post-Ice Age forest. What’s more, it is one of the first National Nature Reserves in England, with plenty of wildlife to watch out for.

The grounds are fertile with flowers which greet gentle butterflies and scuttling insects, especially in the warmer seasons. This walk is easy for the family, so together with your little children, you can see the wonder of English woodlands.

These are just seven of the amazing walks you can find in Kent, and there are plenty more to discover. Just remember to be fully kitted with suitable walking boots, ideally a low hiking boot or quarter cut would be suitable for the walks listed above, as well as drinking flasks and mini first-aid kits.

For more walking guides, be sure to check out our blog, including our recent article on the best mountains in the UK for your next hike.

Image Credits:
John Fielding and David Anstiss under CC 2.0


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