Visiting Kent the Garden of England
Traditional Oast Houses
More than the Garden of England
Most us, especially those over a certain age, have heard Dame Vera Lynn sing about the White Cliffs of Dover. Brits have also seen them as they wave good-bye to England and return via a cross channel ferry or fly over the south eastern corner of England. Many people will know that Kent is often referred to as the garden of England, but what else has it got to offer?
The answer is plenty.
As a southern county of the UK Kent enjoys a more temperate climate than counties in the north of England. Located in the south east corner of England it is perfectly situated for exploring many south of England resorts and cities, and London is within easy reach. Add to this Kent's beautiful countryside and coastal areas and what more could you want?
Towns and cities
London is such a short journey from Kent that this county could be a great base for a London vacation. Kent has interesting towns and cities to visit which include Dover, Maidstone, Chatham, Chislehurst, Faversham and Edenbridge plus historic Canterbury is also in Kent. Canterbury has many fine buildings apart from the Cathedral.
Kent is fortunate to have some of the best Stately Homes and Estates in England. There are plenty of interesting places such as:
- Chartwell which was the family home of Sir Winston Churchill. Open to visitors Chartwell is now a museum that also displays many of Churchill's own works of art and personal memorabilia
- Hever Castle and Gardens is located in Edenbridge, Kent. This 13th Century Castle has a moat and is an impressive building. It was the childhood home of Anne Boleyn who was to become one of Henry VIII wives. One who lost her head literally! The Tudor age is prominent in Hever Castle with an outdoor maze, a rose and Tudor garden and Tudor works of art and furniture displayed throughout the castle.
- Leeds Castle is near Maidstone in Kent. This ancient building is so old that it is listed in the Doomsday Book. It is often referred to as "the loveliest castle in the world" which is high accolade indeed. Leeds Castle was at one time a Norman stronghold and went to become a royal residence for the medieval Queens of England. With over 500 acres of parkland, lakes, history, museums and so much more Leeds Castle must be high on the list of "must see" places in Kent.
- Canterbury Cathedral is a magnificent building.
As the so-called Garden of England, Kent has some stunning countryside. The Kent Downs cover almost a quarter of the county and run from Dover to the borders of London and the home counties. The Seven Wonders of the Weald, Romney Marsh and the White Cliffs offer good, clean air with beautiful scenery. In fact it is a walker's paradise
Holidaymakers all too often forget that Kent has a varied coastline which incorporates some resorts and beaches.
This county of England enjoys a much better climate than those in the North of England.
Margate, Ramsgate, Broadstairs, Herne Bay and Whitstable offer traditional English seaside hospitality.
The highest accolade British beaches can be awarded is the Blue Flag. This means that the beach in question meets the high criteria needed to excel. In 2018 10 Kent beaches were awarded Blue Flags:-
- Tankerton, Whitstable.
- Sheerness Beach.
- Minster Leas.
- Minnis Bay, Birchington.
- St Mildred's Bay.
- Botany Bay, Broadstairs.
- Margate Main Sands.
Although Kent has many modern attractions most of its resorts have retained the charm of a bygone era. With period houses and quiet charm these resorts help you to recharge your batteries.
Surfing is popular at the resorts in Kent due to the warmer climate and surrounding seas.
Kent has around 80 nature reserves, country parks and picnic sites. These provide a wealth of family entertainment. Ancient woodlands may be thin on the ground in many parts of England but not in Kent.
The Kent countryside is perfect for nature or bird lovers. Cyclists and horse riding are encouraged and there are established cycle rides and pony treks. With a mild climate vineyards flourish in Kent. Enjoy a visit to a vineyard and sample the local wine.
The resorts offer organized Seashore Safaris and Walks. These can be great for children or for the family.
Farming world at Nash Court, Boughton, Faversham, Kent is a working farm. However this farm has a full program of events and is open to visitors throughout the summer.
Perhaps Dickens would turn in his grave but visitors seem to love Dickens World at Leviatham Way, Chatham. Dickens World is really a type of theme park and the theme is all things Dickens. Visitors can enjoy Great Expectations Boat Ride, take a trip back in time to a Victorian School, or be scared half to death in The Haunted House of 1859.
Food and Drink
- Wine produced from locally grown grapes.
- Traditional tea shops serve afternoon tea and cakes.
- Romney specializes in Lamb dishes whilst Whitstable's speciality is Oysters.
- Kent also has some of its own specialty cheeses.
- Fish and chips of course which is traditional English seaside fare. Fried fish with fried potatoes!
The Oast Houses of old, and hops which were grown and harvested for beer, may have declined but there is still evidence of this section of Kent's history.
Kent International Airport at Manston, and also Kent London Ashford Airport in Lydd. London's major airports Heathrow, Stansted and Gatwick at a distance of 70 miles or less are within easy reach.
Kent is on London's Doorstep
South Eastern trains run a good service between London and various towns, resorts and cities in Kent.
There are regular Ferry services between France and Dover in Kent.
The Channel Tunnel links Kent to France. This high speed train means that the journey between Calais and Folkestone is a mere 35 minutes.
The choice is yours really as far as accommodation goes. Choose from establishments such as:
- A hotel in a place such as Canterbury or near the coast
- Bed and Breakfast in a guest house
- A caravan at a campsite
- A cottage which could be modern or quaint and traditional
- Self catering in a converted barn
- A farm house
- It is even possible to stay in one of the traditional Oast houses
Remember that the prices are often worked out per person, for each night and will have seasonal variations.
With so many historical sites Kent is a good all year round destination. However, in Summer with its resorts, attractions, water sports, beaches, countryside and scenery it will be a perfect destination for couples, singles, families, and both the young and the old.
Remember though that although Kent usually enjoys a milder climate than many other parts of the U.K. it is still England. This means that the weather will be unpredictable, even in high summer.
However at least in Kent there will be many attractions suitable for such days.
In 2006 Kent reportedly lost its status as Garden of England after proudly holding that title for more than 400 years. Urban sprawl, traffic congestion, a decline in some commercial growing and pollution were just some of the reasons Kent was replaced by North Yorkshire as a Garden of England.
Visit soon while it still retains some of its charm and appeal.
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© 2018 Ethel Smith