Uncover culinary adventures up the Kent Downs in 2023

The Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is not only on the doorstep of London, but offers a wide range of authentic experiences from farm-to-fork gastronomy and vineyards to historic villages and flower-filled woodlands

Finding lunch in Walderchain Woods is as easy as looking at the ground. Shiny, camel-coloured acorns create the perfect wild flour and the freshest bread, which foragers can make under the watchful eye of Natural Pathway’s woodswomen. Baking, building campfires and hearing the great oak forest’s folktales is just one of the Kent Down’s Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty’s newest nature-based experiences.

The Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is perfect for foodies and sustainably foraging all year round. Its rolling hills are littered with sustainable ingredients and culinary adventures. The Wild Kitchen takes gourmet foraging tours to the woods and gorgeous coastline, showing visitors how to identify edible plants and create a wild feast, while the folks at Rebel Farmer teach ethical, sustainable agriculture. With Out to the Woods, you can learn to cook delicious, traditional Indian chapatis on an open fire.

If your idea of culinary indulgence is less hands-on, the area is filled with brilliant cafés and restaurants serving fine local produce. For a true taste of Kent tuck into locally-raised lamb and pork at pubs such as Five Bells Inn, or enjoy locally-made cider, cheese and preserves at tea shops and cafés like Little Farthingloe Farm. Kent Downs AONB is also a surprising wine destination. Its chalky, lime-rich soils are similar to the Champagne region, making for top-quality English tipples. You can try some of Kent’s best wines at Elham Valley or Simpson’s Vineyards, come rain, shine or even snow.

For those looking to stretch their legs, the Kent Downs has plenty of open countryside and stunning coast to explore. The Kent Downs stretches from the iconic White Cliffs of Dover to the borders of Surrey and London. In between, you’ll find everything from short village ambles between tea shops to the epic 153-mile challenge of the renovated North Downs Way. Nature is year-round here; in spring the ancient woodlands bloom with bluebells, summer brings the ideal weather for wandering, foraging is best in autumn, while winter is perfect for cosying up in postcard-perfect ragstone villages.

With so much to explore, guests are guaranteed an off-the-beaten-track getaway that’s tailored to them. The area has introduced 30 nature-based experiences led by passionate, skilled locals looking to create memorable and unmissable adventures with sustainability and the environment at their heart. All experience makers are passionate about the Downs and are dedicated to respect, protect and enjoy southern England’s unique and beautiful landscape.

White Cliffs

Some of its most spectacular scenery is its dramatic coastline, covering over 16km of the English Coastal Path. Kent’s heritage coast is considered on the best regions to visit and the Kent Downs AONB is aspiring to become a Cross-Channel UNESCO Global Geopark, thanks to the connection between itself and France beneath the channel. Walking this iconic coastline, you’ll follow in the footsteps of ancient pilgrims, crusaders and some of the UK’s best artists and authors. Kent Downs’ cliffs and countryside inspired both Jane Austen and Ian Fleming, and bibliophiles can still visit their favourite haunts. For art-lovers, the area is launching an art trail along the North Downs Way, while the new Creative Pilgrims programme takes budding artists on a sketchbook tour of the quaint village of Stowting.

Art is just one of the region’s wellness offerings. The fresh Kentish air and wide countryside is the ideal place to escape, relax and refresh from the every day. As well as wildlife spotting and forest bathing, local organisations are helping to curate a programme of health and wellbeing activities that include meditation, yoga and rural crafts.

At the centre of your Kent Down’s experience are its local people. Whether flower-crown making with families, exploring ancient sites such as Kits Coty Burial Megalithic Monument, or being information-rich ambassadors along the North Downs Way, welcoming guides are here to take you on a year-round, homegrown adventure in this extraordinary, diverse area.

To find out more visit kentdowns.org.uk/up

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