Kent - Cycling Country Lanes

Kent - Cycling Country Lanes

Its original prosperity was based on agriculture and sheep farming, together with its maritime activities. Today the County is best known for fruit and hop growing. Scenically, the grain of the County runs east to west on either side of the North Downs. North of the Downs lies the coastline of the Thames Estuary, eastward the Isle of Thanet, now a populated area known for fine sands and bracing air.

The Downs form a chalk ridge gently sloping to the north with a steep escarpment to the south – all superb walking country.  To the south of the Downs is a heavily wooded ridge of sandstone hills.   Below is the plain of mid-Kent with a profusion of hop gardens and orchards.   Southwards is the High Weald, perhaps the most beautiful area of the County, now a district of agriculture, fine wooded hills and well-tended villages.

In the extreme south lies Romney Marsh, an area of flat, intensively cultivated fields, interspersed with the occasional farmhouse or church.  Towards Dungeness the landscape is of scrub and sand dunes, a place of wide skies and desolation.

The routes recommended, are circular and have been undertaken by two Men of Kent, and in the main, follow the natural course of the land. They take advantage of Kent’s many attractions; villages, churches, the landscape and will leave you with an abiding love for this “Garden of England”.

The following NCN routes cross Kent

NCN Route 1 (The Garden of England). Dover – Sandwich – Canterbury – Rochester – Greenwich.

NCN Route 2. Dover – Folkestone  (The Chalk & Channel Way) – Rye. 

NCN Route 17.  Rochester – Maidstone - Ashford.

NCN Route 18. Canterbury (Great Stour Way) – Tunbridge Wells. 

Regional Routes

1. The Heron Trail, RR 18. This is a 29km/18 mile circular route on the Hoo Peninsula.   The trail provides interest for the ornithologist, naturalist and Maritime historian, and for all those seeking breezy fresh air and exercise. All set between the two great rivers, Thames and Medway, and the setting for much of Dickens (Great Expectations) and smuggling in times past. (D2)

2. Coast to Cathedral, RR 16 & 17. This is an 80km/50 mile circuit linking Dover, Folkestone and Canterbury.  Best approached anti-clockwise via RR16, the route takes in country lanes, villages, woodland and wide, open skies, and has plenty of railway stations along he way. (M7)

3. Ashford to Tunbridge Wells (Wealden Cycle Trail), RR 18.  Best undertaken by the more experienced cyclist prepared for some hilly bits. The route affords spectacular views through and from, the High Weald; apple orchards, Oast houses and picturesque villages. It’s a 67km/42 mile delight.  (G7)

Traffic-Free Family Routes/Trails

1. Ashford – Victoria Park, NCN 18. The ideal trail for young children and novices.  (G7)

2. Bedgebury Forest, NCN 18. Something for everyone, from the 10km/6.25-mile family cycle route, to the 12km/7.5-mile mountain bike circuit.  Café and cycle hire.  (C8)

3. Bewl Water, Lamberhurst.  The 19km/12 mile circuit of the lake is suitable for mountain bikers and hybrids in drier weather, and open for cyclists from late May to end of October. Café and cycle hire. (C8)

4. Crab & Winkle Way (Canterbury to Whitstable). 12km/7-miles.  A nostalgic route down memory lane along the former pioneering railway line. Dover to Capel-le-Ferme (Folkestone). (J4)

5. The Viking Coastal Trail (Reculver to Pegwell Bay). 46km/27-miles.  Easy route past sandy beaches and bays, chalk cliffs and quiet country villages. (L3)

6. Ramsgate to Sandwich.  Short and flat 8-mile route affording sea views.  (N3)

7. Sandgate to West Hythe. 9km/6-mile route beside a glorious sea wall. Worth a diversion to the Royal Military Canal that has a traffic-free path running beside it. (K8)

8. Tonbridge Castle to Penshurst Place (Tudor Trail). 8km/5-mile trail from beside the playing fields of Tonbridge, through Haysden Country Park and along the Medway Valley into broadleaf woodland, then a short climb to afford spectacular views and the charming Penshurst Place.  (R2)

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