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Green Travel Guide to Kent Downs

Foreword by Nick Johannsen,

Director, Kent Downs Area of Oustanding Natural Beauty

The rolling farmland and ancient woodland of the Kent Downs has masses to offer. ‘Down in Kent’ really resonates as you head deeper and deeper into this rural landscape rich in wildlife and stunning views. Farming here is thriving, and the undulating landscape is covered in orchards, hedgerows and bluebell woods and some of the richest arrays of orchids and other chalk-loving plants in the country.

The North Downs Way and ancient Pilgrims Way follow this chalk backbone, passing through ancient villages and even the prehistoric Medway Megaliths – you can literally walk back in time!

 

From pilgrims to hoppers to the White Cliffs of Dover, this has been a thriving place throughout history, whose beauty was said to have inspired many artists and poets. Could Henry Moore’s gently rounded sculpture have been inspired by the view from his window?

 

The great news is that these beautiful natural areas and lovely villages are accessible by a network of footpaths and bridleways, allowing you access into the heart of the countryside. Why not discover the brand new cycle routes? You can now travel on two wheels through Jane Austen country along the beautiful Stour Valley and find yourself in historic Canterbury.

 

What more could you want? Oh yes – there are also plenty of fine pubs and hostelries serving delicious Kentish food and beer along the way!

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Map supplied by the Kent Downs AONB

What Green Traveller's writers discovered in the Kent Downs

 

A spectacular region of chalkland and greensand ridges dotted with bucolic villages, orchards and farms, the Kent Downs are an area of hidden delights. Stretching from Westerham in the west to the White Cliffs of Dover in the east, this is a region of much beauty and superb walking trails, most notably along its four famous valleys: the Darent Valley, the Stour Valley, the Elham Valley and the Alkham Valley. A wealth of heritage, dramatic landscapes teeming with wildlife and delicious local food await visitors to this area. Exploring the country parks, woodlands and nature reserves can be done by foot, bicycle or horseback.  

Stay, Eat, See & Do

Our pick of places across the glorious Kent Downs

Google Map Key:
Click on the coloured icons for more information about each listing
Green = Places to stay; Blue = Places to eat; Yellow = Attractions; Purple = Activities

Click on the square brackets top right of map to reveal expanded map

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  • The Kent Downs is the only protected landscape that extends into Greater London
     

  • The National Fruit Collection at Brogdale, Faversham, is the largest living museum of orchard fruits grown on one site in the world
     

  • One for James Bond fans – part of Moonraker is set in and around St. Margaret’s Bay and Kingsdown, near Dover
     

  • The protected Roman Snail – also known as the Apple Snail – is our largest snail and can live up to 20 years. It can be found in the Kent Downs but nowhere else in Kent
     

  • Churchill’s much-loved family home in the Kent Downs was Chartwell, now managed by the National Trust
     

  • Jane Austen often stayed with her brother at Godmersham Park and would visit friends at nearby Chilham Castle; it is said that her novel Mansfield Park depicts characters and scenes from the village
     

  • Belmont, near Faversham, houses the finest collection of clocks in England
     

  • Ian Fleming also wrote Chitty Chitty Bang Bang, inspired by the racing cars built and raced by Count Louis Zborowski who lived at High Park in Bridge, near Canterbury

This guide has been created as part of the PROXIMITY initiative,
which is made possible by European funding through Interreg Two Seas Interreg Cluster

Words by Harriet O'Brien. Photos by Diana Jarvis.
Artwork for Green Traveller's Guides by Tina Smith and Mark Edwards.