2, 3 or 4 Day Garden of England Tour
This is a tour where we spend a long week-end (or a mid-week break) exploring the trails and rivers of the County of Kent in the south-east of England.
The itinerary for this tour is flexible and arranged as a series of full or half-days which can be mixed and matched to suit.
This tour can also be arranged with or without accommodation (if you prefer to organise this yourself).
This tour is scheduled to run on demand.
If you are a group of between 4 and 14 then choose your own dates and we will do our very best to arrange it.
Fully Guided whilst on the river & trail
Full minibus support throughout
Transfer to & from Arrival/Departure point
All accommodation in B&Bs & small Hotels
All breakfasts, lunches and evening meals
Canoe on several different rivers
Hike the PIlgrim's Way
Hike the White Cliffs of Dover
All canoes, paddles & life-vests
This tour is £650 per person for a 2 day, 2 nights version. We will quote you for any length of tour you require.
If you wish to organise your own accommodation (perhaps self-catering) then we can help you do this and if you pay for this yourself we can discuss a price for the guiding separately too.
Groups of more than 14 can be accommodated on special request.
The tour meets & departs from a pre-arranged point in Kent, UK.
This tour aims to explore the south eastern corner of England in the County of Kent: often known as the Garden of England.
Over the tour we will canoe on the River Stour, outside Canterbury and on the Medway.
In addition we will also hike a couple of trails in the area: in particular a section of the Pilgrim's Way (famous from Chaucer, and also known as the North Downs Way) and also a section of the Kent coast trail where we will stride over the White Cliffs of Dover overlooking the channel.
Other options include a day visiting a castle, a steam railway and a beautiful garden (and a paddle on the Rother river). A half-day visiting Canterbury Cathedral and the city is also available.
Each individual trip is described as a half or full day excursion. These can be arranged to suit in a variety of ways.
Each day will begin with a hearty breakfast and finish with dinner at our hotel. For lunch we will prepare a picnic to be taken on the river bank or on the trail.
Arrival and first meeting.
We will meet at our hotel in the early evening and go over the details of the trip before settling down to dinner.
If some of our guests arrive in the afternoon then we'd be happy to include a short walk for them (also guided), perhaps a city walk in Faversham itself, or a longer walk out onto Faversham Creek and the Oare Marshes.
Half-Day. Canoe the Stour: Fordwich to Grove Ferry
After a hearty breakfast we will drive to Fordwich to rendezvous with our canoe outfitter for our paddle. We will take a leisurely meander down the river to Grove Ferry.
Fordwich, during Roman times the port to Canterbury, and where in the 12 & 13c the white Caen stone used to build Canterbury Cathedral was unloaded. It is the smallest town in England and has a Town Hall dating from 1555 where Shakespeare is said to have performed in one of his own plays in the upstairs chamber. The Church of St. Mary the Virgin has a sarcophagus said to contain the remains of St. Augustine who brought Christianity to England.
As we paddle downstream you may notice trout swimming in the reeds beneath. Isaac Walton, author of The Compleat Angler (1653), mentions the famous Fordwich Trout.
Our meander downstream will take us past the gravel lakes at Westbere and those at the Stodmarsh National Reserve before arriving at Grove Ferry which is little more than a boat-yard and a pub. As we make our way downstream we may have to contest the tide which reaches this far upstream. Not that you will hardly notice.
Half-Day. A hike along the White Cliffs
An afternoon hike on the White Cliffs begins on the Langdon Cliffs with the Port of Dover below us and the famous Dover Castle behind. Indeed we could spend the whole afternoon visiting the castle if we wish.
This walk takes us above the White Cliffs with the Straits of Dover glittering beside us as we take the undulating path to St. Margaret's Bay. Along the way we can visit the Fan Bay Deep Shelter which is where soldiers lived deep underground during the Second World War. We can also stop at the South Foreland Lighthouse for tea & cake. The lighthouse is also a museum and we can see the mechanisms used to rotate the light - which although it first burnt whale oil - became the first in the country to be upgraded to electricity. Marconi also experimented with radio waves from here.
If we continue down to the beach at St. Margaret's Bay we can visit the Coastguards pub or walk along the shore to see the houses below the cliffs where Noel Coward and Ian Fleming once lived.
All-Day. Canoe the Medway: Tonbridge to Yalding
The paddle begins in the town of Tonbridge, after we have had a short visit to the 11C Castle. After a mile or so we will pass out into the countryside of the Medway valley before reaching the canoe slide at Porters Lock (a portage is available too).
The riverbank is lined with Alders and Willow trees as we look out for Otters and Grey Herons. We have another small portage at Oak Weir Lock. Later we will slip under the metal Wagon Bridge and hopefully see plenty of dragonflies and damselflies in the riverside vegetation.
Passing another canoe slide (or portage) at Sluice Weir Lock we will pass through the village of East Packham, the old disused lock at Stoneham and meander our way to Yalding where we can visit the cafe on Tea-Pot island. We disembark at Hampton Lock.
Half-Day, or Full-Day. Hiking the Pilgrims Way: Eastling to Chilham to Canterbury
We start in the village of Eastling in the Stour valley where we can visit the grave of a Plantagenet prince.
The trail takes us through Challock Wood and Kings Wood with a distant view of the spires of Canterbury Cathedral. We drop down into the historic village of Chilham with its castle & church.
If it's a full-day walk we wil continue on via Old Wives Lees and the many apple orchards along the way before entering the city of Canterbury.
Full Day. Bodiam Castle, Steam Railway, Rother River and Great Dixter Gardens
For this day we drive down to the very edge of the County of Kent and visit the Castle at Bodiam.
We will also visit the conserved Kent & East Sussex Railway line at Bodiam Station and catch a Steam Train along the line to Northiam. At Northiam we can canoe on the river Rother for a short stretch.
If we have time we can also visit the famous gardens of Great Dixter, also at Northiam, and made famous by the gardener Christopher Lloyd.
We'll try and fit everything into this packed day.
Half-Day. A Visit to Canterbury Cathedral and city
We will visit the world famous and iconic Cathedral in Canterbury, including inside the church and its surrounding cloisters and garden.
Afterwards we will wander the narrow streets of the small city and discover several hidden gems, such as the Greyfriars Chapel, Blackfriars, the Norman Castle and the Westgate Gardens. We will also explore the Great Stour river which braids through the city.
Other Half & Full Days: details on request
Canoe Stour: Grove Ferry to Sandwich
Canoe Medway: Yalding to Allington Lock
Beach & Cliff Walk: Margate to Broadstairs
Crab & Winkle Walk: Canterbury to Whitstable
St. Augustines Walk: West Stourmouth to Fordwich
The Sun Inn, Faversham, Kent
We shall be staying in the country market town of Faversham, 50 miles south of London on the south east coast. With plenty of history from Roman times through to it's use as a capital for Saxon Kings. Later it became famous for its Gunpowder Factories and in time Brewery. It is the home of Britains oldest brewery.
These days the town has plenty of interest as you walk around. Old buildings, small individual shops, the walks down by the creek and of course its pubs. The town has a lively market on Tuesday, Friday and Saturday mornings and you can visit the Shepherd Neame brewery. The local church of St. Mary's is famous for an unusual flying spire and reputedly the tomb of King Stephen. The surrounding countryside is famous for its fruits, in particular apples and hops. A short distance from town is the national collection of fruit trees with over 2000 varieties of apples alone.
The Rough Guide to Kent, Sussex and Surrey by Samantha Cook and Claire Saunders
The brand-new, full-colour Rough Guide to Kent, Sussex & Surrey is the ultimate guide to this beautiful corner of England, with clear maps and lively accounts of both the big cultural attractions and the smaller, quirkier sights, and full coverage of vibrant Brighton and historic Canterbury. The region is fast gaining a reputation as a foodie hotspot, and the guide offers detailed reviews of the best places to eat, from old-world tearooms to Michelin-starred restaurants. Also included is accommodation for all budgets - from country-house hotels to cozy b&b's and idyllic campsites - as well as the best places to drink, featuring the best village pubs, plus the region's celebrated wineries. Find details on a host of local festivals and events, from Lewes' raucous Bonfire Night to Hastings' popular Pirate's Day, as well as ideas on outdoor activities, from paragliding in the South Downs to canoeing Kent's waterways, with plenty of scenic walks too. Written by local experts, this is an indispensable guide to a region that's ripe for exploring.
The North Downs Way, by Kev Reynolds
North Downs Way national trail guidebook. The 130-mile walk tracks the high downland between Farnham and the historic city of Dover on the Kent coast. The route is described in 11 stages, or 12 to arrive at Dover from the north, via Canterbury, and is fully illustrated with colour photographs and OS map extracts. The North Downs Way is one of the easier national trails with a modest number of steep (but short) ascents and descents and long sections with no noticeable height gain or loss. Several historic sites including Neolithic burial chambers, Roman roads and Norman churches are passed and much of the route follows The Pilgrims Way. The area also boasts many literary connections with some of the most celebrated voices in English literature.
Conquest: The Roman Invasion of Britain by John Peddie
The story of the Claudian Conquest of Britain was only partly recorded by ancient historians. Tacitus' Annals breaks off at the death of Tiberius, while the narrative of Cassius Dio survives only as a collection of selected pieces. Much of this missing knowledge has been recaptured by archaeological research. As a result, we have a better understanding of the tribal society which then existed in Britain, and this can help us to appreciate the courses of military action open to Aulus Plautius, the commanding Roman general. There are other important military factors which would have affected Plautius' choice of options: logistical, geographical, political. In this innovative and much acclaimed study John Peddie argues that the organisation and supply problems of a task force of some 40,000 men and several thousand animals would broadly have dictated Roman tactics. He discusses what these may have been, examines the reason's for Vespasian's seemingly isolated foray into the West Country, and suggests that Caratacus' guerilla campaign (AD 43-52) denied the Romans their hope of a speedy conquest
The Kingdom and People of Kent, AD 400-1066: Their History and Archaeology by Stuart Brookes and Sue Harrington
The roots of England lie within the fertile soil of its earliest kingdom, that of the people of Kent. Here, for a brief moment under King Æthelbert of Kent (c.560-616) this corner of England was transformed into the first Anglo-Saxon and Christian kingdom. But who were the Anglo-Saxons and what happened in Kent during the Dark Ages after the departure of the Roman legions in AD 410?
This book draws archaeological and historical evidence together for the first time in one volume to explain how Kent became the most important place in England, noted for its power, culture, wealth and international contacts and why, by the ninth century, it had become absorbed by its more powerful neighbours, the Anglo-Saxons.
The Struggle for Mastery: Britain 1066-1284 by David Carpenter
The two-and-a-half centuries after 1066 were momentous ones in the history of Britain. In 1066, England was conquered for the last time. The Anglo-Saxon ruling class was destroyed and and the English became a subject race, dominated by a Norman-French dynasty and aristocracy. This book shows how the English domination of the kingdom was by no means a foregone conclusion.