Kent : The Garden of England
Kent is known as the “Garden of England” but it is also the tenth largest county in England. If you stuck for something to do and not sure what to do or where to go, this series of article is for you. In Part 1 of “Things To Do in Kent” we will give you the Top 10, according to Trip Advisor, but before we start here are a few facts about Kent that you may or may not be aware of:
- The first white road lines in the UK were painted on the London-Folkestone road at Ashford, Kent, 100 years ago in 1914.
- Canterbury is the only official city in Kent, though Rochester held city status from 1211-1998.
- The name of Kent comes from the ancient Celtic word ‘Cantus’ meaning rim or border.
- Kent is the main area for UK hazelnut-growing.
Now onto the Top 10 Things To Do in Kent:
Castle Hill Road, Dover, Kent CT16 1HU
The Number 1 attraction in Kent is the historic Dover Castle. He is what Rich from London had to say about his visit, “You need a full day (and a good pair of walking shoes!) to do justice to this fascinating piece of history. It would also be best to visit on a dry day as there is a lot of walking outside to get to the various exhibitions – we were lucky to have superb weather!” Rich went on to say, “The English Heritage guides were superb – knowledgeable and friendly; and the exhibitions were well designed (and included explanations in French as well as English – but why not in German/Spanish/Chinese …?). There are 2 exhibitions in the tunnels dug into the cliffs – and queues for each were about 45 minutes. We went into the ‘Dunkirk tunnel’ which was interesting and covered Dover’s role in the first years of the Second World War, not just its role in the Dunkirk evacuations.”
Rich concludes by saying, “It’s not cheap for a family of 4 but if you treat it as a full day’s outing, take your own picnic (there are plenty of spaces to sit and enjoy this), and enjoy history, this is the place for you.”
The Hawking Centre
Doddington Place Gardens, Church Ln, Doddington, Sittingbourne, Kent ME9 0BB
The following review comes from Luna and she says about here visit to The Hawking Centre, “We spent a full day flying different birds, it was my first time ( I was the main flyer, my partner and daughter 6yo were spectators). The group was very small, giving everyone plenty of interaction with each birds. Our falconer Tom was brilliant, attentive, nice to us and clearly very competent and passionate about the birds and falconry in general.” Luna goes onto say, “The birds appeared to me to be kept in very, very good conditions, everything was clean around them, they were handled with care, they appeared happy, content and not stressed. Their wellbeing seemed of paramount importance to those working there, which is as it should be and made being there a real pleasure. the estate and land you actually have your experience in is stunning, lovely gardens and nice woodland at the back.”
Luna finishes by saying, “Incidentally, we brought our daughter along but were not too sure about it: she is confident around animals and asked to do some flying herself. Tom was very helpful with this and she ended up flying almost all of them at least once. She was very happy! And so were we all, to be honest. A great day, would definitely recommend it.”
Room Escape Games in Kent
There are a number of these all over Kent. This review comes from The Panic Room, based at 7 Berkley Crescent, Gravesend, Kent DA12 2AH.
Read jwillia’s experience at the The Panic Room, “What a brilliant way to spend an hour the staff are really friendly and the building in team skills with grumpy teenagers was really nice. We did the dolls house which was really difficult and I would strongly advise going for a simpler one for the first one as the process foxed us a little to begin with. We did not manage to escape but we had an absolutely brilliant time trying!” JWillia goes on by saying, “We are back again soon to try wo other rooms for my daughters 16th so we are looking forward to that, it’s not cheap but it is an experience you won’t forget and an okay amount to spend on a special occasion. Here’s no parking on site but. Car parks close by we were running late due to traffic so used an hours parking in one of the streets behind, but don’t make our mistake and leave plenty f time to find parking!”
The Big Cat Sanctuary
Headcorn Road, Smarden, Kent TN27 8PJ
This review come from Colin of Maidstone, and he talks about his experience at The Big Cat Sanctuary, “We recently visited the Big Cat Sanctuary in Headcorn, Kent. The visit took place during the annual open days, which happens only once annually. The facilities are outstanding, and you get the chance to get right up close to the bis cats, which include many endangered species, such as the Amur Leopards and Tigers, sumatran and white tigers, snow leopards, the list is endless. as it is a private sanctuary, you have to keep an eye on the website to discover when the visits can take place, and you also get the chance to listen to the keepers, who have a vast knowledge of the cats. one of the keepers is Giles Clark, who recently presented a programme called ‘Tigers in the House’. A truly excellent visit for all the family. Also, the facilities were excellent and refreshing to find toilets that were clean and hygienic.”
Hever Castle & Gardens
Hever Rd, Hever, Edenbridge, Kent TN8 7NG
Plasn from Flintshire, says this about her visit to Hever Castle, “This is a truly beautiful castle, so pretty and beautifully maintained. For kids it’s amazing. The jousting in summer is a fantastic added bonus and is included in the normal cost of entry…fantastic value. Our kids love the water maze and we always visit prepared with swimwear and beach towels as they always get soaked! The gardens are beautiful and there are lots of other activities for the kids including archery, shield painting (pay for), and two wonderful play areas.” Plasn finished with, “The restaurants/cafes are really good quality, but to be honest we tend to take a picnic because the grounds are so beautiful. Love this place A LOT! The best day out in Kent!”
Katedra W 11 The Precincts, Canterbury, Kent CT1 2EH
Paul from Dover (and not too far from Canterbury!) talks about Canterbury Cathedral, “The Cathedral is a must, whether you simply like history; religious history; or the tranquility of such an impressive building. A few hours should be set aside to explore the main Cathedral and then to the Crypt and outside to the Cloisters. Gifts and mementos of your visit are slightly on the expensive side in the Cathedral Gift shop but bearing in mind it costs millions every month for the upkeep of the Fabric of the building, you can be forgiven for making that extra donation!”
White Cliffs of Dover
Upper Road Langdon Cliffs, Dover, Kent CT16 1HJ
If you have already visited Dover Castle, then while you are in the area, it would be stupid not to visit the White Cliffs of Dover! Here is just one review from a happy visitor, “Excellent activity area. Walk to the lighthouse at South Foreland. Have tea at Mrs Knots and then buy a ticket and visit the lighthouse. Or take a picnic and enjoy the view. Watch the ships leave and arrive at the port. The ground is very uneven so take care. The car parking could do with marshals as it can be a bit of a free for all.”
Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre & Brewery Tour
17 Court Street, Faversham, Kent ME13 7AX
This one is for those of you who enjoy a tipple or too. Best to go with others, that way someone else can drive! Here is what Dillyrigg had to say about their visit to Shepherd Neame Visitor Centre & Brewery Tour, “Strongly recommend this trip. This was a Xmas prescient for my husband. I am not a beer drinker so I wasn’t expecting to enjoy this, but to my amazement it was great. The chap who took us around ( can’t remember his name unfortunately. ). Made this so interesting. Very knowledgeable . I even enjoyed trying all the beers. A great experience.”
The Historic Dockyard Chatham
Church Lane, Chatham, Kent ME4 4TZ
I can be truly honest here and say this is a great place to go, lots to do and have been twice with the family. But don’t take my word for it, read what Jivebanana has to say about their visit, “What a brilliant place. We took advice from the TripAdvisor reviews and bought our tickets online and saved a bit of money. We also took advice and booked our ropery and submarine tours as soon as we arrived which I would definitely advise as they do get booked up. There is plenty of free parking and lots of toilets which is vital if you have little ones.” Jivebanana goes on, “The whole place is enormous and you could easily spend a day here. There is a soft play area for smaller children right by a place to get refreshments so handy for parents to get a coffee and keep an eye out for your little ones. A bigger adventure park is there too for older kids. However for me the real jewel in this crown was the fabulous rope tour. Sounds dull but is absolutely not. What brilliant fun.”
Jivebanana continues, “Claire our guide was just magnificent and conducted the whole tour in character. We laughed so much and it was so informative but hilarious. She was so brilliant and really gave you s flavour of working in the Victorian era at Chatham. I won’t spoil it but the finale was just amazingly brilliant. I was also so impressed as she had done a full hour tour with us and then, no more than 5 mins after she had enthusiastically waved us off she was back to do it all again. Wonderful and not to be missed. The other must see is the submarine tour. We only did the 15 min brief tour but there is a longer one for real enthusiasts. Be warned you do have to shove yourselves through the holes that divided each section so not for the infirm.”
They say further, “I loved it. Such an eye-opener to see how this number of people could live in such a small space. There is so much to see from big ships to rescue vehicles as well as the ‘Call the midwife’ tour that having the added advantage of being able to return for free within a year is a great plus. Lots of people have said that the food and drinks are expensive but they are not really. It’s what you would pay in a cafe but I can understand that if you had a bigger family then a picnic might be the way to go. This place is huge and so never felt busy or cramped. This is history that you can experience first hand. A great day out. The kids that were on the tours I am sure will remember this day out for a very long time. Please give me a helpful vote if this review was useful. Thanks”
Lower Leas Coastal Park
Lower Sandgate Road, Folkestone, Kent CT20 2JP
Joanne from Folkstone, says this about Lower Leas Coastal Park, “At any time of the year the Lower Leas Coastal Park in Folkestone must be one of the most picturesque spots in South East England. Verdant trees and shrubs tumbling down the gentle slope from the Leas above, down to the beaches and the English Channel. A magnificent adventure playground for the children and the sound of birdsong mingling with the seawash. I come here for a walk every day and it’s one of the prettiest places I know.”