Whatever outdoor activity you’re looking for, you’re bound to find it in Kent. From adventurous days out surfing the waves or climbing rocks, to relaxing activities like wine tasting and horse riding, you won’t run out of things to do. Here is our guide to some of the best things to do outdoors in Kent.
Kent has some of the best beaches in England, so it would be rude not to head onto the water. If you’re a beginner, most of the beaches have top clubs, schools and tutors where you can do a quick course in a variety of water sports. For surfing, head to the waters around Botany Bay and Sunny Sands. Kitesurfing is popular too, and the exposed waters of Minnis Bay and Romney Marsh see swarms of kitesurfers each year. Another great way to take in the coastal views is by sailing and the marinas in Ramsgate and Dover are ideal bases. Those who prefer calmer waters can try canoeing and kayaking on one of the spectacular routes that go from Sandgate and Sandwich Bay, or head to St Margaret’s Beach to paddle beneath the stunning White Cliffs.
With its temperate climate and south-facing chalk soils, it’s no surprise that Kent is at the heart of the UK’s wine growing industry. It has some of the best vineyards in the country, and taking a tour is the perfect excuse for some wine sampling. Biddenden Vineyards is Kent’s oldest family-run vineyards, producing 11 different grape varieties for white, red, rosé and sparkling wines. You can take self-guided or guided tours which include talks, tastings and food platters. Another must-visit site is Chapel Down. With over 100 acres of vineyards, Chapel Down produces a range of sparkling and still wines, as well as a few spirits. The winery offers tours, three-course lunches and wine tastings. Other renowned vineyards include Barnsole Vineyard, Gusbourne Estate, The Mount Vineyard and Woodchurch Wine Estate.
If Kent is the ‘Garden of England’, then it makes perfect sense to visit a garden. As one of the sunniest and driest parts of the country, Kent is bursting with bright blooms and lush plants. It’s difficult to choose from such a wide choice of gardens, but one of our top choices would be Sissinghurst Castle Garden. The garden boasts a diverse range of plants divided into themed areas. Another must-see is Goodnestone Park where Jane Austen was a frequent visitor. Surrounding the ruins of a 14th century moated castle, Scotney Castle Gardens is the perfect place for a romantic stroll amongst beautiful flowers. For spectacular views of the countryside, visit the 19th century Emmetts Garden.
A boat trip is a lovely way to sightsee if you want to give your legs a rest. In Canterbury, glide down the River Stour as you take in the city’s historical sites from a unique angle with Canterbury Historic River Tours. To see a wilder section of the River Stour, hop on one of the Grove Ferry River Trips from Upstreet. Meandering through Stodmarsh Nature Reserve, the river cruise also offers picnic trips and birdwatching tours. For a tour around the Thames Estuary, climb aboard the Greta at Whitstable. Built in 1892, this Thames Sailing Barge runs six-hour trips during the summer months. Thrill-seekers will enjoy a ride with Jetstream Tours. The high-powered jet boat races down the River Medway past sites like Chatham Historic Dockyard, Upnor Castle and various 18th century forts.
Walking & Exploring
Time to stretch your legs and head out onto one of Kent’s many beautiful walks. Walking is one of the best outdoor activities in Kent, whether it’s a long-distance walk or a relaxing stroll. Kent is home to the famous North Downs Way which runs for 153 miles through historic sites, rich woodland and nature reserves. If you’re after something a little less demanding, try the Chestfield Walk. This 3.8 mile circular route takes you around the edge of Chestfield village and through the conservation area, passing Tudor Manor buildings. For a coastal route, head anywhere on the England Coast Path, from Camber in East Sussex to Ramsgate in Kent. See the unique shingle landscape of Dungeness and spot the Martello towers of Dymchurch.
Whether you’re an amateur or a professional, anyone can have a fun time rock climbing in Kent. The most popular spot is Bowles Rock, right on the border with East Sussex and about five miles from Tunbridge Wells. Bowles Rock is one of the outcrops that make up the Southern Sandstone cluster. With over 230 climbs up to 10 metres in height, it’s quick drying and south facing, making it accessible all year round. If you’re a beginner, there are instructors on-site at the Bowles Outdoor Centre who can also provide you with equipment.
Kent has some of the best countryside for horse riding. Around the county there are routes suitable for all levels of riders. One of the best places is the scenic area of Lower Hardres in the Kent Downs. You’ll find several public bridleways going through woodland and parkland, and you may even spot some wildlife. Another picturesque route goes through Bedgebury Forest. This beautiful woodland area is full of soaring trees and forest wildlife. There are a number of stables to choose from, including Wellgrove Farm Stables, Ten Oaks Equestrian Centre and Bursted Manor.