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Westgate Parks, Canterbury

Westgate Parks, Canterbury




Come and explore a riverside landscape rich in wildlife and heritage!

Situated along the Great Stour in the historic city of Canterbury, the Westgate Parks are four unique green spaces. Together they form a delightful stretch of recreational land which follows the Great Stour river from the heart of Canterbury's busy city centre into the countryside.

You can start to enjoy the riverside walks from the medieval Westgate Towers in the city centre. They begin in picturesque formal gardens and wind through picnic sites and a children's play area to water meadows and an ancient island full of wildlife.

Take in the wonders of the Westgate Gardens
These stunning ornamental gardens were originally created by the Williamson family who lived in Tower House. Bought by Stephen Williamson in 1886, Tower House was given to the City of Canterbury in 1936 by his grandson Stephen, together with wife Catherine. The gardens are steeped in history. Tower House incorporates one of the ancient city wall bastions and hidden beneath the lawns and borders lie part of the roman city wall, a section of roman Watling Street and London gate. The amazing Oriental Plane tree Plantanus Orientalis, recognised by its distinctive trunk, is believed to be over 200 years old and rumoured to have swallowed a circular bench which once surrounded its base.

Hours of fun to be had at Toddler's Cove
Toddler's Cove has been a place of leisure and family enjoyment for decades. This site was transformed into an open air swimming pool in 1876. The pool was very popular, and remained so until well into the 20th century. Up until the 1970's Toddler's Cove provided the city with its own 'riviera'. As well as the swimming pool, there was a boating lake and paddling pool. There was a beach made of sand brought from Margate - complete with donkey rides. Thanks to Heritage Lottery Funding the area is now a state-of-art roman themed children's play area and riverside picnic site. There is a kick about area and outdoor gym facilities for adults. For many, Toddler’s Cove has become a starting point for the Great Stour Way, a path shared by pedestrians and cyclists which follows the river to Chartham.

Discover the Canterbury Bull in Tannery Field
As its name suggests Tannery Field was once part of St. Mildred’s Tannery. The Tannery was owned by the Williamson family. They gave Tannery Field to the City in the 1930s, along with Tower House and Westgate Gardens. The Canterbury Bull was designed by sculptor Steven Portchmouth to remind us of the field’s industrial past. It was once covered in a foul smelling pile of waste products from the tannery and was known as ‘Slub Bank’. The tanning industry may be gone, but it’s not forgotten. When transforming the space into a wildflower meadow in 2014, Westgate Parks volunteers uncovered part of the Tannery rail track. The bull sculpture reminds us what the tannery produced: tanned animal hides – in other words, leather.

Explore the nature reserve at Bingley Island
‘Bingley,’ which means ‘within a river,’ is an area of protected grassland formed between two branches of the Great Stour and a connecting channel. Together with Whitehall Meadow it is designated as a Local Nature Reserve. The area has a willow copse, man-made pond and is characterised by damp-loving grassland plant species. Bats, common reptiles, dragonflies, damselflies and butterflies are just some of the wildlife that has been seen in the meadows. Sit quietly and enjoy the bird song of the reed warbler, blackcap and chiffchaff as the moorhens scuttle by.

Children welcome

Opening details

For opening details, please see the website.



See location of Westgate Parks on Google mapsSee location on Google maps

Map reference: TR 143577  Lat: 51.27849 Long: 1.07233

The Westgate Parks benefit from having multiple entrance points. There are information signs at each entrance to show you where you are. The children's play area is situated at Toddler's Cove.

By Bicycle: The site is well connected by cycle routes, including the Great Stour Way, which is part of the National Cycle Route18. There are free bicycle racks just off the Great Stour Way at Toddler's Cove.

By Train: Both Canterbury East and West train stations are minutes away from the Westgate Parks.

By Bus: There are bus stops at St Dunstan's and St Peter's Place.

Accessible by Public Transport: 2 miles from Canterbury East/West station


  • Children welcomeChildren welcome
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