Kent is sometimes referred to as “The Garden of England” and it’s not hard to see why.
True, some parts of northern Kent blend seamlessly into the London suburbs but that gives a misleading impression. In spite of its proximity to the capital and a large population, many of whom are commuters, the county retains a unique character and rural charm.
It’s also one of the great centres of English culture. In the 590s, the first Christian missionaries arrived and settled in Kent (though there were Christians already in Wales and Scotland and there may have been Roman Christians in Kent under the Empire).
Canterbury became one of the great Mediaeval cities and religious centres and many great historic events took place here.
As a result, there’s plenty to see and do here – natural, ancient and modern.
Why not try:
- Canterbury and its cathedral. Its origins go back to 597 and it became world-famous (or notorious) in the 12th century when St. Thomas a Becket was murdered there. It’s a lovely place for a stroll around and there a plenty of things to see and do in the city itself;
- the hop fields and oast houses. 80 years ago, tens of thousands of poorer Londoners spent the summers working on farms (called ‘‘the hop fields’) to pick hops for beer making. The hops were then dried in special and unique buildings called ‘Oast Houses’. Today there are still some left as dedicated museums. It’s lovely countryside to explore and a vision of times past;
- Dover Castle and the White Cliffs. This is one of the most iconic images of England and Britain as a whole. The ancient castle symbolises England and Britain’s sometimes troubled past with continental Europe and is well worth exploring. The cliffs are a lovely spot and there are some great views over the harbour – on a clear day you can see the French coast;
- the Historic Dockyard – Chatham. It’s often forgotten that this part of Kent and the town of Chatham have a long association with the Royal Navy, going back centuries. At the museums here, you’ll see something of that history together with being able to visit a WWII destroyer and a submarine;
- the Turner contemporary – Margate. A fascinating exploration of modern and older art in a setting inspired by one of the country’s most loved artists;
- Reculver Roman fort – Reculver. In truth, some of the Roman fort and Mediaeval church have been lost to coastal erosion over the millennia but this is a surprisingly wild part of Kent and fantastic for walking, sea views and bird-watching;
- Originally ‘Maeides Stana” in Anglo-Saxon (perhaps meaning “Maidens’ Stone”) this is a pretty town with lots of interesting historic buildings. The river Medway meanders through it and it’s a great place for a stroll around in the morning before a pub lunch on the river.
There’s so much to do in Kent that you’ll have trouble finding enough time to do it even partial justice.
If you’re planning a visit, here are a few reminders and top tips:
- Don’t forget to check your touring caravan insurance. Yes, you may think it’s up to date and fit for purpose but double check all the same;
- Kent’s proximity to London is a huge advantage but it can mean many of the major roads become very busy on bank holiday Fridays and Mondays. The roads on those days are best avoided, if at all possible;
- it’s tempting to take a quick shopping jaunt across the channel if you’re in the area of Ashford (Eurostar) or Dover. That’s fine but don’t do so with your caravan unless you’re sure your insurance will cover it;
- avoid the main routes heading to London between say 7-9am and those heading south out of London or Northern Kent between 5-7.30pm. They’ll be busy with commuters.