A voyage of discovery
I love digging deeper into our home county of Kent, as there are so many picturesque towns and villages to discover in the Garden of England.
Often, these quaint places are a few miles off a main road, so you would only detour to them if you knew they were there.
Touring through the rolling Kent countryside, not only will you be spotting lush vineyards, hop-bines and oast houses, but you’re never too far from the stunning Kent coast either.
A few of these Kent villages we’ve chosen are in rural locations, and public transport can often be challenging. However, Gary and I are noticing that more EV charging stations are popping up around Kent, so it’s become much easier to head off on a Kent road trip in your electric vehicle.
Hopefully, you caught my first two posts, ‘8 Picturesque Villages and Towns in Kent – Part 1’. We chose some real gems like Lenham, Smarden, Upnor, Faversham, Hythe and Headcorn. In my second piece, ‘8 Delightful Villages and Towns in Kent – Part 2’, a few of the places we visited were Wrotham, Westerham, Charing and Cranbrook.
So, let’s jump aboard the charabanc and journey around 8 more delightful villages and towns in Kent.
As soon as you arrive in West Peckham, you feel a sense of community, with the large open village green immaculately maintained for the weekly game of cricket.
West Peckham has some amazing history and was even mentioned in the Domesday Book of 1086. The quaint late medieval church of St Dunstan’s in West Peckham, which overlooks the village green, is Grade I listed and has a Saxon tower.
Life is all rather idyllic, and it is not at all surprising that West Peckham was used by ITV as a filming location for the comedy-drama series The Larkins.
When we drove through West Peckham last year, ITV was filming The Larkins. They let us pass through between takes, and we spotted Barney Walsh outside the pub playing the character PC Harness.
We visited West Peckham as part of our circular road trip from Wrotham in Kent. On this road trip, you can also visit Wrotham and West Malling.
Where to stay near West Peckham
We’re now heading to the historic old town of Aylesford on the banks of the River Medway and just a short hop from the M20 and the M2.
To catch the iconic and picturesque view of Aylesford village, head to the modern-day bridge which crosses the Medway. The Norman Church of St Peter and St Paul stands proud in the background. At the same time, the symmetrical pointed rooftops of the timber-framed dwellings lie beneath.
Aylesford’s ancient medieval bridge is believed to date from the 14th-century, although this historic bridge once welcomed horse and carts, it is now only open to pedestrians.
Take a stroll through the charming High Street, which is lined with timber-framed inns and quaint terraced cottages. You feel like you are strolling through a Dickensian movie set. Continue to follow the road through Aylesford, and you’ll arrive at The Friars, home to Aylesford’s Carmelite Friars.
It was around 400 years later, in 1949, that the Carmelite Friars returned to the Medieval Priory and built the tranquil and welcoming Friars we have today.
South of Aylesford is the Royal British Legion Village. The Royal British Legion was founded in 1921 to support injured returning soldiers from the First World War. The Royal British Legion Village is now a welcoming community providing sheltered accommodation and supporting veterans.
Nearby Aylesford is Kits Coty, where you’ll find the neolithic ancient burial chambers of Kit’s Coty House and Little Kit’s Coty House. These two incredibly historic monuments are managed by English Heritage and are free to visit.
If you’re visiting Aylesford, why not embark on one of our Kent road trips. Our Scenic Medway Valley road trip takes you to Cobham, Upnor, and Rochester, with a little detour to Historic Dockyard Chatham.
Where to stay near Aylesford
The charming village of Hollingbourne is nestled within the North Downs (AONB), an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and only 1 ½ miles from the M20, just by Leeds Castle.
Upon arriving at Hollingbourne from the south, you first enter Eyhorne Street, a picturesque little hamlet. Ensure you stroll around here as it is so quaint, with half-timbered homes and perfect English country gardens.
Eyhorne Street alone has over 25 listed buildings, along with two pubs, a cute village shop and a café serving the community; it was so peaceful there.
Heading north, we arrive in Hollingbourne. At first glance, this cute village may appear very small, but overflowing with character and charm.
Hollingbourne can trace its heritage back to 1086, as it appears in the Domesday Book as Hoilingeborde. Within the village are beautiful English cottages, and you’ll also spot the Elizabethan Hollingbourne Manor.
If you're intrigued by Kent's weird and wonderful history, or all unusual stories around the county, then take a peek at "Kent's Strangest Tales".
You won't be able to put it down, you can pick it up for your Kindle or in good old paperback.
Although the narrow historic Hight Street is a highlight, especially through the Creative Quarter and around the colourful Bayle district. However, for me, it has to be the bustling harbour, the jangling masts of the little yachts and the newly rejuvenated harbour arm.
The old harbour railway station, which once saw passengers arrive on the Orient Express, has been converted into a communal area which leads onto the harbour arm. This is full of restaurants, bars, cafés, and plenty of places just to sit and watch the world go by. It’s wonderful now.
Another reason I love Folkestone is the way that it has fully embraced public art. Folkestone can wholeheartedly boast that it has the UK’s largest urban exhibition of contemporary art. Check out the Creative Folkestone for maps and walks.
The art exhibition is accessible 24 hours a day. You’ll find pieces by Antony Gormley, Yoko Ono, Cornelia Parker and Tracey Emin, to name just a few.
You can visit Folkestone as part of our Scenic coastal road trip around the shores of Kent, with many stops along the way, including Margate, Sandwich, Deal, and Dungeness, to name a few.
Where to stay in Folkestone
We have a new little book on our shelves that we delve into when we're heading to the coast.
Packed full of historical facts, and broken down into the different counties of England. It tells tales of the history of the shoreline that surrounds our country.
Available in Kindle & Hardback editions, it's an excellent addition to anyone's collection who loves the English seaside.
To visit the delightful little village of Appledore, you’ll be heading to the extraordinary region of Kent named Romney Marsh, sometimes referred to as ‘The Fifth Continent’.
I adore this part of Kent as it is so different from other areas in the county, and there are some weird and wonderful medieval churches to discover, too. Take a peek at my posts on the Romney Marsh churches; here is part 1 and part 2; there are even pink box pews.
Appledore on the northern edge of Romney Marsh is unquestionably stunning; we were quite taken aback when we arrived. The main road that runs through Appledore is The Street, and it’s lined with idyllic country cottages, beautifully kept gardens, a friendly tea-room, and a very welcoming village pub.
Centuries ago, Appledore and Romney Marsh looked so different as this quiet little village was a bustling port on the River Rother’s estuary. During its heyday, Appledore was capable of mooring over 200 ships in its harbour.
In 1287, a severe storm hit this region of Kent, and the landscape of many towns and villages changed forever. The surrounding land and rivers silted up, and Appledore is now around 9 miles from the sea.
We visited Appledore as part of our Romney Marsh road trip. Which also included a visit to Hythe, Dymchurch, New Romney, Lydd, and Dungeness.
Map, guides and more
If you fancy exploring the surrounding footpaths and bridleways around these magnificent Kent castles, then why not download the Ordnance Survey app?
For a relatively small annual subscription, you’ll have the whole of the United Kingdom at your fingertips.
When you stroll around Sandwich’s narrow streets and cobbled lanes, you feel like you’ve stepped back in time. We love visiting Sandwich as it usually falls off the tourist’s radar.
The best way to explore Sandwich is just to wander aimlessly; you won’t get lost, and you’ll have fun.
Stroll around the ancient little quayside, head beneath the Barbican Gate and old Tollgate to see how much a toll will be for your horse and cart.
Wander into town amongst the half-timbered pubs and homes dating from the 15th & 16th centuries. Keep a lookout for the tiny hardware stores, cake shops and independent workshops, which were the lifeblood of this picturesque town.
And yes, you’re right, it’s where the good old English lunchtime snack derived its name.
The 4th Earl of Sandwich was said to have ordered his valet to bring him some slices of meat tucked in two slices of bread. Hey, presto, the sandwich was born.
Where to stay in Sandwich
We are now heading much further inland in Kent to Otford. Otford is close to Sevenoaks and near the M25/A21.
When you arrive at Otford, one of the first sights you’ll undoubtedly stumble upon is the village duck pond, which also doubles as a roundabout.
Otford has an incredible history dating back to the Iron Age. However, it was Otford Palace, also known as the Archbishop’s Palace, that raised Otford’s profile with Royalty and noblemen.
Unfortunately, today, Otford Palace has long since disappeared. Only the gatehouse and tower remain from what was once one of England’s largest palaces, covering 4 acres of land. Otford Palace was similar in size to Hampton Court Palace. After the death of Henry VIII, Otford Palace slowly fell into decline and ruin.
Otford is a bustling little place with some delightful boutiques and antique shops to rummage around. Take a stroll along the entire length of the High Street, and you’ll see some charming cottages and manor houses hidden behind high walls and gates.
We visited the delightful village of Otford during our Darent Valley road trip. Just a few miles from Otford are the lovely villages of Eynsford, Farningham and Shoreham. The villages are reasonably small but most certainly worth visiting.
Where to stay near Otford
We’re back in the Romney Marsh region of Kent, and this time, we’re visiting Lydd.
Lydd is the most southerly town in Kent, and considering that Lydd is reasonably small, it has the longest church in the county. The ancient 13th-century All Saints Church is known locally as the ‘Cathedral of the Marsh’ and is 199ft (60.7m) long.
Lydd has plenty of charm and character throughout its narrow streets, especially around Coronation Square. Here, you’ll spot the medieval courthouse, timbered-framed homes, and quaint, picturesque cottages.
With Lydd’s vicinity to New Romney, it became a member of the Crown’s Cinque Ports during the 13th-century as a “limb” of Romney.
All Saints Church, Lydd
While strolling around Lydd, you’ll probably hear the occasional light-aircraft overhead; this is because Lydd has a local airport which was originally named Lydd Ferryfield. It was the first airport to be built in the UK following the end of WWII.
We visited Lydd as part of our Romney Marsh road trip. Which also included a visit to Hythe, Dymchurch, New Romney and Dungeness.
Where to stay near Lydd
Escape for a few days
Are you looking for that ‘perfick’ holiday hideaway to relax in while you discover the Garden of England?
After a day exploring the Kent coast and its many historic castles enjoy one of the handpicked properties and unique retreats at Holiday Cottages.
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