5 Winter Walks with a Cosy Pub in the Kent Downs
29th January 2024
A haven for hikers, the Kent Downs National Landscape has no shortage of walking trails. But with the bleak winter months in full swing, it can be a challenge to find the enthusiasm to swap your slippers for walking boots. Don’t worry, we’ve got the perfect solution: a winter walk that ends with a stop in a cosy pub!
As you set out along the frost-kissed paths, feel the crisp air invigorate your senses, and marvel as the landscape glistens with the magic of the season. After a refreshing stroll through the Kent Downs countryside, there’s no better way to end the day than by seeking refuge in a cosy pub nestled within this picturesque setting. With its inviting fireplace and warm, welcoming atmosphere, a traditional countryside pub offers a perfect respite from the cold. Settle into a snug corner, where a hearty meal and a well-deserved pint await.
We’ve rounded up five of our favourite winter walks in the Kent Downs, and best of all, they all include a stop at one of Kent’s finest country pubs.
The Samuel Palmer Trail is a circular walk around the village of Shoreham and its surrounding landscape in the heart of the Darent Valley region. Along this 8.5km, circular route, you’ll walk in the footsteps of Victorian artist, Samuel Palmer, who took inspiration from his surroundings whilst living here in the 19th century to create his finest pastoral scenes. Download the Darent Valley Trails app to experience the free guided audio trail of the route, complete with the history of Samuel Palmer and his artwork. After your walk, stop off at the Samuel Palmer in Shoreham, a charming, dog-friendly, 15th-century pub boasting a seasonal menu produced from local suppliers.
The North Downs Way National Trail has lots of brilliant restaurants and pubs along its 153 miles. One of our favourite sections to walk in winter is the 11km linear route from Wye to Chilham. Starting out from Wye and the Great Stour River, head across countryside to Boughton Aluph. Look out for the oversized porch on All Saints Church which historically offered shelter and protection to pilgrims walking the Pilgrim’s Way. Continue through Kings Wood, a former royal hunting forest. Pause at the Coppice Oratory sculpture, part of the North Downs Way Art Trail, for distant views of Canterbury Cathedral. Descending into the quaint village of Chilham, you’ll have a choice of two pubs: The Woolpack Inn and The White Horse pub. Both offer extensive menus with vegan options, wide selections of local ale, beer and wine, and outside seating areas.
The walk starts at Camer Country Park, home to 40 acres of open, mature parkland and woods. This 7.5km route gives walkers the chance to enjoy some spectacular views across the rolling landscapes, as well as the opportunity to explore Meopham village – known as the longest village in Kent. Take a slight detour from the route to see the iconic Meopham windmill, supposedly built from old ships timbers purchased from Chatham Dockyard. After your exploration, head back into Meopham to visit The George Inn, a welcoming pub in the heart of the village with a traditional oak-beamed bar and an open log fireplace.
Taking the path alongside the church, you are soon deep in the peace and tranquillity of the countryside, following a section of the popular Elham Valley Way. The 6km, circular route gently climbs through open fields with stunning views across the valley. Church spires, villages and a patchwork of fields stretch as far as the eye can see. Follow the well-marked path winds through well-maintained pasture and chalk grassland, teeming with wildlife, before gradually descending back towards the village. Elham offers a choice of three pubs, all just a stone’s throw from the village car park. Check out the Grade II listed Kings Arms, recently renovated in celebration of the coronation of King Charles III. The Rose and Crown is a 16th-century coaching inn popular with walkers and cyclists or step back in time at The Abbot’s Fireside, a 15th-century free house brimming with historic features.
This 7km walk around the village of Wye has some challenging climbs in places but offers some spectacular views from the Downs together with some fascinating local features. You’ll pass the Wye Crown Memorial carved into the chalk of the Downs to celebrate the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902, and Devil’s Kneading Trough, a steep-sided dry valley often described as one of Kent’s top beauty spots. Head back down through farmland into the village, where a hearty meal awaits you at the Tickled Trout. For more than 400 years, an inn or tavern has stood in the same spot on the banks of the Stour river here in Wye.
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Respect, Protect, Enjoy
The Kent Downs AONB is a nationally protected landscape, 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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