Make the most of Summer in Kent!

view gallery VIEW GALLERY

Kent has welcomed visitors since Chaucer's time. Today, it has beach resorts from the kitsch to the chic. Oh, and apples by the barrel load, says James Litston



Why go here?


Few places in Britain can rival Kent's impressive heritage of hospitality.

England's oldest county has been welcoming visitors for centuries – from Chaucerian pilgrims to Victorian pleasure-seekers. Today, its appeal is wider than ever. There are castles, cathedrals and medieval towns to explore, plus steam railways, smugglers' haunts and a proud maritime history. The coastal resorts offer the full spectrum of kiss-me-quick kitsch through to seaside chic (Whitstable is so posh it has its own oyster festival), while inland, the fruit orchards and oast houses create an idyllic bucolic scene.

The places to eat and drink

The Goods Shed (thegoodsshed.co.uk) in Canterbury isn't just a shop; it's also a restaurant serving seasonal dishes with ingredients plucked from the adjacent stalls. There's a similar focus on local products at The Lifeboat (thelifeboat-margate.com), a cosy Margate pub serving Kentish cheeses, seafood, and pies. Seasalter is home to The Sportsman (thesportsmansea salter.co.uk), one of Kent's best gastropubs, while nearby Whitstable is the darling of the dining scene for its fresh-off-the-boat seafood. Tuck into some of the best at award-winning Wheelers Oyster Bar (seewhitstable.com), or try The Crab and Winkle (crabandwinklerestaurant.co.uk) for its harbour views.

The inside attractions

The big news is the arrival of Turner Contemporary (turnercontemporary.org) on Margate seafront. The opening exhibition showcases works by Turner, who often visited the resort, (until 4 Sep). Also new is the Secret Wartime Tunnels exhibition at Dover Castle (english-heritage.org.uk) which explores the sanctuary deep within the white cliffs. For the kids, there's the heritage farm at Kent Life (kentlife.org.uk), near Maidstone. It provides an interactive snapshot of farming in days gone by, complete with a petting zoo and tractor rides.

The retail therapy

Put together a picnic at The Goods Shed in Canterbury (thegoodsshed .co.uk). Part farmers' market, part general store, it offers locally sourced meats, cheeses, honey and fruits alongside more unusual items such as cold-pressed Kentish cobnut oil. Cliftonville Farmers' Market (kfma.org.uk), east of Margate, is another foodie option, held on the last Sunday of every month on a cliff-top overlooking the sea. Margate Old Town (margateoldtown .co.uk) is a good bet for quirky, independent shops, selling everything from retro homewares to cupcakes and charcuterie, while Whitstable (seewhitstable.com) has a similarly charming shopping scene at one-of-a-kind stores.

The history trail

Kent has more than its fair share of castles and historic houses. Perhaps the most important landmark is Canterbury Cathedral (canterbury-cathedral.org), a major place of pilgrimage in medieval times, and now a Unesco World Heritage Site. Nearby Westgate Tower (canterburywestgatetowers.com) is a well-preserved gatehouse dating from the 1300s, with prison cells, armour, and views from the battlements. Chatham's 400 years of maritime heritage comes alive at The Historic Dockyard (thedockyard.co.uk), while older still is the Bronze Age boat at Dover Museum (dovermuseum.co.uk), the world's oldest-known sea-going vessel.

The great outdoors

See more than 50 animal species at Wildwood (wildwoodtrust .org), at Herne Common, including badgers and lynx. For nature in the raw, head to Knole House, near Seveonoaks (nationaltrust .org.uk), to spot herds of deer, or you can set sail from Ramsgate Harbour on the look-out for seals (horizonseasafaris.com). Take a walk in glorious Blean Woods (theblean.co.uk), near Canterbury, one of England's largest tracts of ancient forest, then admire the sea views from Thanet's 27-mile Viking Coastal Trail (visitthanet. co.uk/viking). Alternatively, stretch out on Kent's sandy shores – Botany Bay near Broadstairs is arguably the county's most beautiful beach.

Compact Facts

How to get there

Southeastern (southeasternrailway.co.uk) operates frequent rail services along the Kent coast and throughout the county. Book online and save 20 per cent on off-peak fares until 31 August. National Rail Enquiries (08457 48 49 50).

Further Information

Visit Kent (visitkent.co.uk).

Suggested Topics
Independent Travel Videos
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Amsterdam
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in Giverny
Independent Travel Videos
Simon Calder in St John's
Independent Travel Videos
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Independent Dating
and  

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

ES Rentals

    iJobs Job Widget
    iJobs Travel

    Recruitment Genius: Senior Bid Writer

    £25000 - £34000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: With offices in Manchester, Lon...

    Recruitment Genius: Membership Sales Advisor - OTE £20,000 Uncapped

    £15000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: The fastest growing fitness cha...

    Guru Careers: Marketing Manager / Marketing Communications Manager

    £35-40k (DOE) + Benefits: Guru Careers: We are seeking a Marketing Communicati...

    Guru Careers: Membership Administrator

    £23K: Guru Careers: We're seeking an experienced Membership Administrator, to ...

    Day In a Page

    Sepp Blatter resignation: The beginning of Fifa's long road to reform?

    Does Blatter's departure mean Fifa will automatically clean up its act?

    Don't bet on it, says Tom Peck
    Charles Kennedy: The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    The baby of the House who grew into a Lib Dem giant

    Charles Kennedy was consistently a man of the centre-left, dedicated to social justice, but was also a champion of liberty and an opponent of the nanny-state, says Baroness Williams
    Syria civil war: The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of this endless conflict

    The harrowing testament of a five-year-old victim of Syria's endless civil war

    Sahar Qanbar lost her mother and brother as civilians and government soldiers fought side by side after being surrounded by brutal Islamist fighters. Robert Fisk visited her
    The future of songwriting: How streaming is changing everything we know about making music

    The future of songwriting

    How streaming is changing everything we know about making music
    William Shemin and Henry Johnson: Jewish and black soldiers receive World War I Medal of Honor amid claims of discrimination

    Recognition at long last

    Jewish and black soldiers who fought in WWI finally receive medals after claims of discrimination
    Beating obesity: The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters

    Beating obesity

    The new pacemaker which helps over-eaters
    9 best women's festival waterproofs

    Ready for rain: 9 best women's festival waterproofs

    These are the macs to keep your denim dry and your hair frizz-free(ish)
    Cycling World Hour Record: Nervous Sir Bradley Wiggins ready for pain as he prepares to go distance

    Wiggins worried

    Nervous Sir Bradley ready for pain as he prepares to attempt cycling's World Hour Record
    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Liverpool close in on Milner signing

    Reds baulk at Christian Benteke £32.5m release clause
    On your feet! Spending at least two hours a day standing reduces the risk of heart attacks, cancer and diabetes, according to new research

    On your feet!

    Spending half the day standing 'reduces risk of heart attacks and cancer'
    With scores of surgeries closing, what hope is there for the David Cameron's promise of 5,000 more GPs and a 24/7 NHS?

    The big NHS question

    Why are there so few new GPs when so many want to study medicine?
    Big knickers are back: Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Thongs ain't what they used to be

    Big knickers are back
    Thurston Moore interview

    Thurston Moore interview

    On living in London, Sonic Youth and musical memoirs
    In full bloom

    In full bloom

    Floral print womenswear
    From leading man to Elephant Man, Bradley Cooper is terrific

    From leading man to Elephant Man

    Bradley Cooper is terrific