Holidays at home have never been so popular, which means many of our favourite tourist spots are busy and time slots for popular attractions are overwhelmed with bookings. Here are some tips about places to visit in Kent, the Garden of England. They will hopefully be a little quieter, a little less well known and are somewhere to relax rather than experiencing hustle and bustle!
1. Godinton House, Ashford
While many will visit Sissinghurst Castle Garden for their horticultural fix, we suggest Godinton House instead. Just a few miles from Ashford, it is set in spectacular parkland that will take your breath away as you approach via the long and winding driveway.
The house dates back to the 14th century and is open on limited days, but the gardens are open Tuesday - Sunday. Booking is currently required. The gardens are famous for the Delphinium Festival (normally May/June), the parkland, the walled garden and glasshouses. The Gardeners are all super friendly and always happy to share their knowledge.
The 12 acre garden is perfect for a leisurely stroll and it's fairly flat. There are various areas to explore, including the Italian garden, the rose garden and the lily pond. If you are a Historic Houses member, entry is free. The perfect time for a stroll is in the late afternoon when it is quieter. Refreshments are available and parking is free.
2. The Dirty Habit Pub, Hollingbourne
Not far from Leeds Castle, and on the Pilgrims Way, you'll find The Dirty Habit pub. In fact, it's about 20 minutes away from Godinton House, so head this way for dinner! The pub has excellent reviews and the food is great, with good portion sizes.
The Dirty Habit was a monk's ale and cider house in the eleventh century. The pilgrims who passed on their way to Canterbury would refresh themselves at this very spot. They have some very fetching art on the pub itself to remind us of the path the monks took.
Steeped in history and set in a lovely village away from the busy area immediately around Leeds Castle, The Dirty Habit is well worth a visit. As usual, do book before you travel.
The tree lined High Street of Tenterden frames the beautiful architecture that lines the route down to the coast. It is stunning and much loved by locals. Not part of the tourist trail as such, it very much has a local feel. You'll find independent shops, friendly little cafes and historic pubs. Well worth a visit. You could also visit the smaller National Trust property, Smallhythe Place, while you're there.
This 16th century house is the former home of Victorian actress Dame Ellen Terry and is now a museum of her life, complete with beautiful gardens and the fantastic Barn Theatre.
4. Dungeness Beach
Perhaps not the most obvious place to visit, but well loved by locals, is Dungeness. While there are other local beaches that attract more attention, this area is desolate to say the least. However, it's also a spectacular ecological site and houses the largest shingle beach in the UK. The elephant in the room is... the nuclear power station! In fact not one, but two! They are within a wildlife sanctuary designated a Site of Special Scientific Interest and birds flourish in the warmer water created by the station's outflow.
The most famous house in Dungeness is Prospect Cottage, which was purchased by the film producer and artist Derek Jarman in the 1980s. He turned the Victorian fishing hut into a thoroughly unique home, along with a very unusual garden.
5. Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest
Bedgebury is home to the largest pinetum in the world. It is globally recognised for species conservation, scientific advancement and the understanding of conifers. It provides a stunning environment (a Grade II listed landscape) for walking, picnics and photo opportunities!
There are miles of family cycling and mountain-biking paths, running and walking trails and you might also spot a Gruffalo hiding in the woods! Loved by locals, it is perfect for all levels of fitness and horticultural knowledge!
6. Shelly's Team Rooms, Chilham
Positioned in the chocolate box village of Chilham, Shelly's Tea Room offers traditional cream teas. Not only are they famous locally, but you'll be able to sit outside in the summer, watching the world go by in this pretty village.
You'll be perfectly positioned to soak up the atmosphere in the square and wander the lanes of the village. It's not a huge village, so you won't be wandering for hours. It's just a perfect pitstop in the Kentish countryside! And, it's not far from Canterbury if you wanted to join the tourist trail at Canterbury Cathedral.
7. Water Lane Walled Garden, Hawkhurst
Originally known as The Walled Garden, it has recently changed hands and will re-open in 2021 as the 'Water Lane Walled Garden'. A hidden gem down the lanes outside Hawkhurst, it's a challenging location to find, but once you get there, it is well worth it!
We'll hold fire on sharing images from the previous Walled Garden, but it's safe to say it was truly magnificent with incredible food, service and location. Outside, they sold on-site propagated plants and the plantsmanship from the owners and their staff was legendary. We can't wait to see what the team here do with the site and will look forward to following their progress.
We have two Best of British holiday parks in Kent. Broadhembury offers both family friendly and adult only accommodation in two separate areas. Based in the heart of Kent, outside Ashford, they are perfectly positioned for countryside pursuits as well as trips to the coast or even a day trip up to London. They can accommodate caravans, tents and motorhomes as well as having some luxurious glamping options.
Tanner Farm Touring Caravan and Camping Park is based in Marden, in the heart of the Kent countryside. Rural and peaceful, the park never feels busy as the pitches are laid out over 15 acres, with the park totalling 36 acres. It is spacious, perfect for camping and touring. They are a family friendly park and look forward to welcoming your canine companion too!
We hope you've enjoyed our whistlestop tour of some slightly quieter places to visit in Kent! If you're looking for 5 star rated, independent holiday parks, Best of British have 54 locations in England, Scotland and Wales. We cater for families, tranquil adult only breaks and holidays with your canine companion!