Mid Kent is the heart of rural Kent containing two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, the great central sweep of the chalk Kent Downs and the High Weald with its ancient wooded hills and medieval villages. Right in the centre sits Kent’s magnificent cathedral capital Canterbury. The city’s cathedral and St Augustine’s Abbey ruins are a World Heritage Site and the pilgrims who flocked to Thomas Becket’s tomb in the cathedral inspired the father of English literature, Geoffrey Chaucer, to write his Canterbury Tales.
Main centres include riverside Maidstone with its ancient Archbishop’s Palace and best Kent museum and art gallery and Ashford, the home of Eurostar offering ample choice of accommodation. Both make great bases from which to explore the area. Or stay in pretty Wealden centres like Tenterton with its classic light railway or Cranbrook with its famous smock windmill. Across the High Weald and Kent Downs you will find beautiful rural villages and a wealth of rural cottages and B&Bs close to popular walking trails, cycle routes, iconic gardens and country parks.
Canterbury is one of England’s most historic cities with ancient links to the journey of St Augustine and the birth of Christianity in Britain. Easily explored on foot, Kent’s capital boasts a host of historic sights including the World Heritage ruins of St Augustine’s Abbey and the great Westgate through which pilgrims passed en-route to the cathedral. A tour inside the Cathedral to view the magnificent Gothic nave and the spot marking the site where Becket’s tomb once was is not to be missed.
The city has a vibrant year round arts and cultural scene, with a selection of internationally acclaimed museums, theatres and art galleries. Shopping and dining experiences are equally impressive. Discover superb specialist shopping quarters around the cathedral, Westgate and the Kings Mile. Cafes, tearooms, restaurants and old inns around the city centre serve the finest local and organic produce. As you would expect in an ancient English centre, there’s a wide choice of Ghost, Heritage and Literary themed tours.
Castles, Gardens & Vineyards
The great gardens, castles and country estates in Mid-Kent have earned Kent the nickname the ‘Garden of England’. The National Trust cares for many and amongst the most iconic are Sissinghurst Castle Gardens near Cranbrook, the creation of Vita Sackville West and her husband Harold, a garden which continues to inspire new and experienced gardeners. The view from the top of the Elizabethan Tower at Sissinghurst across to the Downs and Weald is not to be missed.
Scotney Castle gardens with its stunning moated castle is one of the High Weald’s 7 Wonders and the best of the Kent Vineyards can found across the Downs and Weald – head to Biddenden Vineyard in the Weald for free vineyard tours!
Leeds Castle near Maidstone, nicknamed ‘Lady’s Castle’ after the many Queens in residence here over the centuries, is one of the South East’s most spectacular estates popular with families and in recent times a venue for high profile outdoor summer concerts. The grounds contain a maze, endless trails and waterfront picnic sites, golf, cafes, restaurants and a centrepiece moated castle stately home.
Rural Mid-Kent is a real outdoor playground criss-crossed by National Trails, family friendly paths, nature reserves and cycle routes. The North Downs Way National Trail cuts through the heart of Kent following the great chalk ridge and top spots for cycling feature in the High Weald at Bedgebury Forest and around Bewl Water. Many castle estates and gardens in the region have friendly themed trails ideal for families including Leeds Castle, Scotney Castle and Sissinghurst.
Mid-Kent is perfect for a family holiday or short break with top attractions including Kent Life near Maidstone with fun exhibits, farm animals, interactive workshops, trails, oast houses and cafe all onsite. You’ll have hours of fun at Leeds Castle with its maze and family friendly cycling and walking trails. Canterbury is a family friendly city with attractions like The Canterbury Tales offering a fantastic introduction to Chaucer for younger visitors. Head to the Museum of Canterbury for Rupert the Bear and Bagpuss exhibitions!
Major motorways the M20 and the M2 are fast routes into Mid-Kent by car, and the A260 and A2 connect Dover Port to Canterbury. London Airports are within a 2 hour drive – the nearest is Gatwick Airport. The Channel Tunnel from Folkestone is within easy reach and Eurostar at Ashford International Station puts you right in the heart of Mid-Kent.
The region is well served by bus and rail networks, with many of the main towns boasting railway stations with fast links to London. Maidstone and Canterbury both have two mainline stations! Stagecoach is the main bus service operator in the area, and National Express Coaches run a regular low cost service from London Victoria Coach Station to Canterbury.
Where to stay
Looking for that perfect pet friendly and/or family friendly cottage holiday in a beautiful rural location close to a wealth of attractions, gardens and outdoor activities? Kent’s interior is the perfect match, with hundreds of oast house conversions, farm cottages and holiday barns available in the region. Many retain beautiful original features and are set in their own grounds with spectacular country views.
Luxury and award-winning Bed & Breakfast accommodation also features strongly in the heart of Kent, with a wide choice of friendly and stunning boutique B&Bs situated in and around Canterbury. Find your holiday cottage or B&B in Mid Kent now, and book online or direct.