There’s nothing like a walk through the Garden of England, even in winter. From the verdant Toys Hill to historic Chartwell, Kent is a great place to go for a gentle January amble. Here are three of our favourite walks, so get ready to layer up in scarves and embrace the crisp, wintry outdoors.
Take in historic views at Toys Hill
If you want to take in the views that inspired National Trust founder Octavia Hill herself, we recommend that you pick a clear day to explore Toys Hill. Toys Hill has recently been opened up again by National Trust rangers, revealing stunning views of the Kentish countryside.
Lightly rolling hills, church steeples, picturesque villages: this was the landscape that Hill grew up in and was determined to preserve, and we’re endlessly grateful that she did. You can quite literally walk in her footsteps by taking the Octavia Hill Centenary Trail west, joining up with the east side of the trail if you’ve got a bit of a spring in your step.
Drinking English history at Chartwell House
The historic estate of Chartwell House, home of Winston Churchill for 40 years in the mid-20th Century, is a wonderful place to explore on a crisp January day.
The Chartwell estate rolls gently towards a tranquil lake; in winter an atmospheric mist hangs in the air. A January visit to Chartwell means wandering the grounds for an hour or so before heading into the exhibition space, which displays artwork created by Churchill himself, and later stopping off for a warming drink in the Landmere Cafe. This is a true winter wonderland, with over 80 acres to explore.
If your legs are feeling strong you could walk further, towards Emmetts Garden (2.6 miles) or Toys Hill (1.1 miles). All in all, the perfect English country day out.
Walk a sustainable art trail at Thornden Wood
For something a bit different, why not head to the Wildart Trail in Kent’s Thornden Wood? The trail, found between Canterbury and Herne Bay, is a designated area of Special Scientific Interest, and is packed with sustainable art that changes along with the natural environment. Sites to make sure you spot include totem poles for wildlife, wooden woodpeckers, log cabins for insects, a woodland workshop – and lots of wildlife amongst it all, of course. The site is managed by Kent Wildlife Trust.
When you’ve taken in the beauty of native woodland on the trail, why not stop off in either the pretty medieval city of Canterbury or the seaside town of Herne Bay for a rest and a pick me up? Thornden Wood lays directly between the two locales and is only four miles from each, so the only decision you need to make is whether you want to end your wintry walk with a sea breeze or with spires. Either way, you’re sure to find plenty of local venues in which you can rest your legs. Well deserved, we say.
These are just three examples of great winter walks in Kent, but there are of course many, many more. It’s a county that’s made for gentle country strolls, after all.
Kentish winter walks that can also offer you a great day out include the Chartham North Lost Landscapes Trail (part of the North Downs Way), Clowes Wood (between Canterbury and Whitstable) and the 1.2 mile Hadlow Easy Access Trail (near Tonbridge).
If you’re ready for a really bracing walk, you could even head to the White Cliffs of Dover. We’d recommend lots of layers and a thermos flask if you’re going to brave the cliff tops!