Top spots to watch the sunset in the Kent Downs

A couple sitting on the Downs watching the sunset over the countryside

Culture & Heritage tagsOutdoor Activities tagsWellbeing tagsWildlife & Nature tags

22nd October 2023

Heading on a sunset adventure in the Kent Downs? You might be surprised to learn that the best time of year for incredible sunsets is actually during late autumn and winter. As the seasons change and daylight hours shorten, the sunsets become more striking.

But why?

Firstly, the air in winter tends to be cooler and less humid, resulting in clearer skies that allow for a more vivid and unobstructed view of the sunset. The absence of high humidity means there is less scattering of light, leading to crisper and more vibrant colours in the sky. Secondly, the lower angle of the sun’s descent during winter months creates a more dramatic and elongated sunset experience. Plus, you don’t have to stay out as late to enjoy it! During autumn and winter sunset is at a reasonable hour rather than late at night.

In celebration of the changing seasons and the allure of winter sunsets, we’ve curated a list of our favourite spots to watch the sunset in the Kent Downs. So, prepare your warmest attire, bring along a thermos of hot tea, and lay out a cosy blanket as we invite you to embark on your own sunset celebration #UpTheKentDowns.


1. Wye National Nature Reserve

Drink in the views from above the Wye Crown chalk hill figure. Or wander through the nature reserve to look over Devil’s Kneading Trough. Named after its bowl-shaped appearance, this valley is often described as Kent’s top beauty spot. The view from here is outstanding. On a clear day, it’s possible to see Rye, Romney Marsh, the coast around Hastings, and Dungeness. There are two car parks near the nature reserve or you could choose to brave the steep walk uphill from Wye village.

2. Fackenden Down Nature Reserve

Enjoy the panoramic views offered from Fackenden Down overlooking the Darent Valley. It’s a little-known and precious nature reserve popular for its wild orchids and butterflies in the summer, but beautiful sunset views year round. The reserve is just a 15-minute walk from Shoreham train station. Why not leave the car at home and travel by public transport to enjoy the sunset sustainably?

3. One Tree Hill, Sevenoaks

One Tree Hill, set in the Kent Downs, is a large, tranquil space with spectacular views over the Weald of Kent. It’s an ideal place to escape, relax and see a stunning sunset. The site is open year round, and there’s a small car park that’s just a short walk from the view point.

4. Hollingbourne Downs

The chalk escarpment above the village of Hollingbourne is a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI). Follow the North Downs Way National Trail north out of the village to find the perfect sunset spot. Beware, it’s a bit of a climb to the top of the Downs! After a steep climb, you’ll be rewarded with stretching views south across the countryside, as well views of the sunset over to the west.

5. Abbotscliff Sound Mirror, Folkestone

From the sound mirror between Folkestone and Dover, enjoy views across Kent’s Heritage Coast. The seascape stretches to iconic White Cliffs of Dover in the east, and from the shore of Folkestone round to Dungeness power station in the west. From here, or from The Warren below, when the light’s just right, you’ll have views across  the Channel for miles and can watch the sunset reflecting and glowing on French White Cliffs.

Sunset sea view across high chalk cliffs, with the sound mirror on the grass.

Respect, Protect, Enjoy

The Kent Downs National Landscape is a designated Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, recognised for its distinct character and beauty. You can help us keep the Kent Downs National Landscape beautiful by following the Countryside Code when you’re out and about in the landscape. Please stick to the footpaths, take your litter home with you, and don’t damage or disturb the wildlife.

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