ENJOY AUTUMN: Kent Outdoor Activities
Stepping outside on a true autumn day, hearing the comforting crackle of fallen leaves underfoot and seeing the dew-dropped cobwebs that wave in the breeze is a magical thing. We are so lucky in Kent to be able to experience autumn is all its glory, and whether the day is chilly and heralding winter, or warm and waving goodbye to summer, you will always be able to find something to do.
A Walk In The Park // www.kent.gov.uk/leisure-and-community/parks-and-outdoor-activities
Wherever you live in the county you are sure to be close to a country park. There are many of them to choose from, and each one offers something unique to the area. For a simple, pleasurable day out during which you can enjoy autumn at its finest, Kent’s country parks are ideal. Some of these parks include: Trosley, Betteshanger, Shorne Woods, Brockhill, Lullingstone, Teston Bridge, Pegwell Bay and Manor Park.
Jack Raven Bushcraft // www.jackravenbushcraft.co.uk
At Jack Raven Bushcraft you can get completely back to nature as you learn how to fend for yourself out in the wilderness of Kent. There are number of different courses to try including one-to-one bushcraft training. This fantastic course allows you to find out more about fire by friction, tracking and identification of animal signs, natural cordage, woodland cooking, tree and plant identification and uses, becoming competent with an axe and herbal remedies. Or what about trying your hand at the foraging course, on which you learn how to source and prepare your own food? Perhaps the Mindfulness in the Woods course sounds more like your thing – here you can learn simple techniques to ‘wake up the senses’ so that you re-connect with the nature and gain a profound sense of balance, peace and harmony.
Bedgebury Pinetum // www.bedgeburypinetum.org.uk
Whereas most of the trees you’ll see and think of during autumn are leafless and all but lifeless, if you are craving a bit of greenery then there is no better place to visit than Bedgebury Pinetum. This national pinetum, managed by the Forestry Commission, is 350 acres of beautiful conifers and broadleaved specimens set in the gorgeous Wealden countryside. The Forestry Commission has looked after this stunning spot since 1925, but the collection was actually started in the 1840s by the Beresford Hope family. Until 1987 the same genera of tree were kept together, so it wasn’t as interesting as it could have been (although it was easier for the trees to be catalogued and compared), but when the great storm destroyed as much as a third of the pinetum, the curators took the opportunity to re-imagine the place. And today it is a fascinating forest to visit.
UK Electric Bike Tours // www.ukelectricbiketours.co.uk
Autumn can be the perfect time to get out on your bike to explore the Kent countryside. It’s not too hot, not too cold, and is just right for those who want to experience Kent head on. But although many people like the idea of getting on their bikes and heading off into the unknown (or even the well-known) paths of our county, we’re just not all up to it. Thanks to UK Electric Bike Tours based in Biddenden, now everyone can enjoy that feeling of wind in their hair – hire an electric bike and you’ll get all of the pleasure with hardly any of the work. With UK Electric Bike Tours you can choose either a self-guided hire or a scheduled tour. Cycle past historic castles, vineyards, gardens, picturesque villages, breweries and much more – you can even incorporate a wine tasting with your e-bike tour. The self-guided route is 27 miles long, and there are plenty of pubs to rest up at along the way! And of course, if you prefer to cycle in the conventional way, all you need to do is switch off the motor.
Glamping at Kits Coty // www.kitscotyglamping.co.uk
Camping and autumn aren’t normally two things that go well together – not when there is a risk of damp weather and mud. Lots of mud. But at Kits Coty you can try something a little different: glamping. Glamping (glamorous camping) is camping for those who don’t do camping. There are no traditional tents involved and certainly no communal showers, and unless you want to, there is no requirement to cook any of your food over an open flame (although toasting marshmallows is always good fun). What there is is the chance to stay in a gorgeous shepherd’s hut, or in a bell tent, with comfy mattresses, luxurious shower facilities and even barbecues. And if it is a little chilly, there are log burners included within each tent too.
Hovercraft Adventures // www.hovercraftadventures.co.uk
At Hovercraft Adventures in Paddock Wood you can enjoy some adrenalin pumping activities, and the weather won’t matter. In one of these incredible hovercrafts, you are flying one foot above the ground and, after tuition from a fully trained and experienced instructor, it will be time to head out to the hovercross track which enables you to fly your vehicle over both land and water. As long as you are in good health and are over 12 years old, you can pilot one of these amazing machines, and at Hovercraft Adventures you’ll have up to two hours to enjoy yourself!
Rochester Treasure Trail // www.treasuretrails.co.uk
Rochester is lovely at all times of the year, but is it especially beautiful in the autumn. And what better way to enjoy the city than by following an exciting ‘treasure trail’ which shows you all the sights? In Rochester, the treasure trail is a murder mystery that is suitable for all the family, and it gives you the chance to learn more about where you live, or, if you are a visitor, the chance to explore somewhere new. As you follow the trail route, can you solve the sneaky clues set on existing buildings, permanent features and monuments to eliminate the suspects to discover whodunit?
These trails are downloadable online, and once you have your trail booklet, you can set off on your adventure. The Rochester trail is around 1.5 miles long, and will take approximately two hours to complete. If you get stuck on any of the clues, there is even a text service with handy hints to ensure you solve the mystery in the end!
Bewl Water // www.bewlwater.co.uk
Bewl Water is an 800-acre site in the heart of the High Weald. It’s open all year round, and in the autumn time it is a beautiful place to visit. There is always plenty to do at Bewl Water for all ages and abilities including fishing, boating and cycling around the reservoir itself. As well as these great activities, there is a conference venue, restaurant and café, so you can spend the entire day here quite happily.
The Great Stour Way
The Great Stour Way is a three-mile traffic-free route that runs between Canterbury and Chartham. It follows National Cycle Route 18 and offers the most stunning and relaxing journey along the banks of East Kent’s River Stour. Your route will take you through heritage sites including Milton church and Chartham paper mill. Not only that, but you will be travelling through some of Kent’s finest marshland and meadows – look out for the kingfishers that dart about as well as many other species of Kentish wildlife. One of the great things about the Great Stour Way is that it is a fully surfaced track, shared between cyclists and walkers (and joggers or runners) with seats installed at regular points so that you can sit and take in the views as you go.
Fishy’s Land Yachts // www.fishyslandyachts.co.uk
Land yachts are wheeled vehicles that are powered using a sail – the beach is the ideal expanse of space on which to enjoy these fabulously exciting machines! At Fishy’s Land Yachts you can book a two-hour lesson and ride with experienced, qualified land yachting instructor Andy. It’s a wild experience and it’s certainly something you will never forget!
Howlett’s Wild Animal Park // www.aspinallfoundation.org/howletts
There are over 400 different animals at Howlett’s, including Kent’s only giant anteaters. As well as these magnificent beasts you will find gorillas, elephants, tigers, leopards, monkeys and more. You can even walk with the lemurs in their own specially designed leafy environment – it is a breathtaking sight to watch them as they leap through the trees above your head. As well as the animals and a lovely children’s play area there are a variety of kiosks and cafés for refreshment throughout the park. Howlett’s is open all year round and visiting in the autumn is a pleasure as it is less busy than during the summer, but the animals are still active and easy to spot!
Stodmarsh Nature Reserve
Stodmarsh Nature Reserve is open all year round and is a beautiful place to visit. It has the largest rare reed beds in the whole of the South East, and you can find many varieties of wildlife here. With bird hides, observation points and huge open spaces for strolling, visitors are welcome to enjoy the area and all it has to offer.