Have you been feeling trapped indoors all through winter? You aren’t the only one!
As the snow melts and spring finally begins to gain traction, the countryside is bursting into colour. After such cold weather the spring sun is coaxing many of us out of our cozy sitting rooms and into the great outdoors!
After the restrictions of the past year, many of us are taking to the woodlands to keep our spirits up. With the local gym still closed off, more people than ever are taking to the footpaths of Kent, both for health and pleasure. With the Covid 19 lockdown wearing us down it is essential for us to keep going outside, even if just for a stroll.
Going out for a wander and some sunshine has a positive benefit not only for our physical health but also on our mental health. From Bewl Water through to Scotney castle, some of the most popular rambles in the country are in Kent. Known as the ‘Garden of England’, Kent has some of the most beautiful areas in Britain.
Whether you are a keen hiker or a walking novice, there are walks here of a length and difficulty that you will be able to manage.
Here in Kent we have so many beautiful and historic walks. Here are a few of the most popular.
Bewl Water Walk
No list of walks in Kent would be complete without Bewl Water. One of the most iconic walks in Kent, the Bewl reservoir is famous for watersports like the dragon boat races as well as gorgeous views. Straddling the border between East Sussex and Kent, Bewl Water hosts a circular route that is popular with walkers all year. With a well maintained path, this route is accessible for those of all ages.
With a large Visitor Centre and the Waterfront Café as well as a playground, Bewl is a great day out for the whole family.
The full route is 12 ½ miles and generally takes around 6 hours on foot, but most don’t go the whole way around the reservoir, with numerous shorter routes that meet the main path offering quicker (and less tiring) alternatives.
With many local bird and plant species, Bewl offers some excellent views of wild flower meadows. The reservoir is well stocked with fresh water fish and is popular with anglers during the summer months. While the carpark and visitor Centre are currently closed due to Covid 19 restrictions, once they re-open this reservoir will be an amazing place to go and visit.
Left to the National Trust by Cristofer Hussey in 1970, Scotney is a historic moated castle steeped in history. The 14th century castle is a highlight of the estate and is a popular destination attracting visitors all year round. The ancient parkland and woodlands are host to deer, Sussex cattle and sheep. At Little Scotney Farm, hops are still harvested and dried each year by a tenant farmer.
Cultivated for centuries, the parkland is easy walking for all ages, making it one of the most popular walks in Kent. Beautiful views of the castle and estate create some photo album worthy scenes for walkers.
Scotney also boasts some well-maintained gardens as well as a tea room for hungry walkers to stop at before heading home. There is parking offered at the estate, although it can fill up fairly quickly in the summer months.
The White Cliffs of Dover
A national treasure, immortalized in song by Vera Lynn, the White Cliffs of Dover are an iconic part of the English coastline. This walk offers incredible views of the sea, you can watch the boats travelling across the channel to and from France. Make sure to visit the café and the South Foreland lighthouse, the first lighthouse to use an electric light and the site of many scientific discoveries.
Further along the cliffs the National Trust offers tours of the Fun Bay Shelter, one of the last remaining examples of the WW2 defenses built all along the coastline in order to protect Britain against an attack by sea.
The white chalk grassland on the cliffs makes it a perfect environment for flowers and butterflies like the Adonis blue and marbled white. The cliffs are also the haunt of many avid birdwatchers, with peregrine falcons and skylarks making their nests along the cliff face.
The Kent Downs
Stretching from the outskirts of London all the way down to the White Cliffs of Dover, the Kent Downs are an area of outstanding natural beauty (AONB) bringing in many ramblers and hikers to explore the area.
Of all the nature reserves in Kent this one covers the most ground, with dozens of different tracks and trails to choose from. Among them the Knole easy access route is the most accessible to those less practiced at hiking up hills.
There are many sites of special scientific Interest or (SSSI’s) along the downs, and many protected rare species and habitats are open for walkers to pass through. The Downs are filled with acres of ancient woodland and grassland that are home to many endangered species. These habitats are carefully maintained and act as ecological pathways for wild flora and fauna to travel across.
Sevenoaks Nature Reserve Walk
The Sevenoaks Nature Reserve is made up of an area of five lakes surrounded by woodland. It is the first example of a gravel pit site being repurposed to become a nature reserve. The site is novel in that the habitat is almost completely man made, the lakes were fashioned from the old flooded remains of a gravel quarry. The transformation of a site like a quarry into such a vibrant ecosystem is a testament to nature’s ability to recover over time.
The habitat is now home to many bird and insect species, as well as bats and glow worms. Water birds such as kingfishers and grey herons draw a lot of walkers to the reserve and many species nest there. The Jeffery Harrison Visitors Centre organizes regular events for visitors and has exhibits of the history of the nature reserve a must see for any visitors.