The New Year offers opportunities to explore new places and to enjoy the beautiful scenery we see around Bewl Water in Sussex and Kent. Our area has many sites of natural beauty that will help you start the year on a positive note. Many of us will have made New Year resolutions to exercise more or spend more time outdoors. Sticking to these resolutions is easier than ever when there are so many wonderful trails and pathways to explore close to your door. If you stick to one route it can get boring when you are taking the same trail every other day. Changing your routes regularly will keep the excitement of exploring new places fresh, and make walking more enjoyable.
Why hike in Kent? Kent is nicknamed the garden of England, for the many farms and gorgeous wild spaces that are found in the area, perfect for walks and relaxing escapes to the countryside. With a direct train line into London, Kent is perfectly placed for walking holidays and weekends. This article will explore some of the best walks around Kent that have the sights and upkeep for all ages and abilities to explore.
The walk around Bewl Water takes you through both Kent and Sussex, with paths that lead you to separate routes. The full trail is 12 ½ miles and takes most people around 6 hours to complete, but there are many shorter trails crossing onto the Bewl trail that take less time. Dogs are welcome around the walk, although at certain point on roads or near nesting sites it may be best to keep them on a leash.
Bewl is the largest reservoir in the south east, and the dam and surrounding forests provide some truly spectacular views.
Crab and Winkle Way
Most often explored by bike due to the 7.5 mile route, this is a fantastic walk for exploring East Kent. The path follows the Canterbury to Whitstable train line, one of the first in Britain. The name comes from the train line too, which was first used to transport seafood rather than people to their destination.
Canterbury is a UNESCO World Heritage site, with the medieval buildings making up much of the city standing unchanged from centuries prior. Whitstable is a gorgeous seaside town, with beautiful views of the coast. Whitstable is also a part of the famous Saxon shore way, a 163 mile stretch of footpaths along the coast – a route which will be exciting to explore throughout the New Year.
There is a flat paved path along the Minnis Bay sea wall, with enough space for a buggy or wheelchair to pass along comfortably. The route is flat, and takes walkers along the coast and past the Reculver Towers, a Roman fort that was later converted into a monastery. Much of the site has been lost due to coastal erosion, but the ruins of the two towers are still very imposing to view to this day.
The path follows the Viking coastal trail, which in its entirety is 32 miles long and more suitable for experienced walkers or runners to explore. However, the shorter route along the bay is an easy and well-serviced part of the route, suitable for a variety of abilities.
Lullingstone walk takes visitors past the beautiful grounds of the Lullingstone Castle, one of England’s most historic manor houses with stunning botanical gardens, often frquented by Henry VIII. The route also passes close to the Lullingstone Visitor Centre where you can learn about the local area as well as places of interest to visit. Shoreham, also located near the trail, is a lovely village to stop at for tea or a hot chocolate as a break from the chilly walk.
This walk passes through hop fields and farms as well passing by the river. While there are some slopes in this walk, it is moderate in most parts without any truly difficult stretches.
South Foreland Lighthouse
This historic lighthouse is set on top of the iconic cliffs of Dover. The clifftop walk gives visitors an incredible view of the English Channel ,with boats out on the water year round. The lighthouse was initially set up due to the dangerous Goodwin sandbank which is notorious for swallowing ships. The sandbanks are made up of glutinous sand which slowly swallows ships that become trapped in the banks. The first recorded wreck was in 1298, and to date over 2000 shipwrecks have been recorded, and up to 50,000 deaths.
With a tearoom, shop and toilets near the lighthouse for passing walkers, there are plenty of places to stop and enjoy the view out over the Channel with a drink and a teacake. The lighthouse itself is also well worth a visit.
While the full route of the Syndale valley walk is 11 miles long, there is a shortcut that takes away a few miles. Heading through the valley is one of the most picturesque walking routes in Kent, taking visitors through quaint and small villages. The area is part of the Downs Area of Outstanding Beauty and is a less populated walk despite the wildlife havens and incredible views along the way.
While passing through Eastling it is well worth visiting St Mary’s Church to see the yew tree standing outside. The tree is more than 2000 years old – Yew trees sometimes live to reach up to 3000 years of age.
The garden is part of an Edwardian estate that was laid out in the late 19th century, with many plants gathered from around the world and painstakingly cultivated. The garden is situated on one of the highest spots in Kent and while it won’t be in full bloom during January there is a gorgeous rock garden for visitors to explore.
Due to the hill top start, this walk has some steep slopes and fairly rough terrain to go through for those with little prior experience. This circular path links Emmetts Garden with Chartwell, taking any walkers following the path around Sevenoaks.
If you are coming to Bewl for a walk in the New Year and need more information about the route, please contact us here. Our staff will be delighted to inform you about what Bewl Water has to offer.