Wrap up warm, it's time to go outside!
Fresh air, seascapes and countryside scenes – when it comes winter walks and outdoor adventures, you’ll be spoilt for choice in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable.
While national lockdown restrictions are in place, it’s important to make the most of your daily exercise.
A little fresh air and gentle activity every day can do wonders for your physical and mental health, and there are all sorts of ways to stay active and see more of the city, coast and countryside during the winter months. So put down the box set, lace up your trainers, and head out to discover more of what our beautiful area has to offer.
You can also use the Kent Connected app to help plan your next outing - the app combines walking and cycling maps with bus and train routes to help explore your local area quickly and safely.
Take a look at some of our top tips for outdoor activities this winter...
If you are working from home, take some time away from your screens (all of them!) at regular intervals. Take a stroll along the coast, river or around your local park. An early morning walk can help you plan your day or week ahead, while an afternoon stroll can help you shake away the day’s stress.
Head to Herne Bay Memorial Park, with formally planted gardens, a lake (with plenty of ducks to feed), a play area and a community kitchen garden. There’s even a grassed area for a quick kick-about with your household, if you’re feeling particularly energetic on your lunch break.
If you’re in the city head down to the Great Stour Way, a flat three mile walk that follows the River Stour between Canterbury and Chartham. Whether you tackle the whole route along the babbling river or pick up parts of the Canterbury Middle Ring walk to loop back into the city, you’ll be rewarded with beautiful scenery, lush colours, and the occasional fluttering of swans on the river bank.
Take some time out for a longer walk to blow away the cobwebs and get the heart pumping.
Get some sea air into your lungs along the Oyster Bay Trail, a 6.7 mile route between Swalecliffe and Reculver. You’ll get to see the Reculver Country Park, a Special Protection Area and Special Site of Scientific Interest, as well as the imposing Reculver Towers. The best thing? Hat Hats coffee shop is still doing takeaways so you can reward yourself with a hot chocolate!
Take a trek through Victory Wood to take in incredible scents and unexpected sights. Planted to mark the 200th anniversary of the Battle of Trafalgar, it is one of the largest areas of continuous ancient woodland in south east England at 11 square miles. The woodland offers breath-taking views across the Kent coastline, and has several interpretative structures dotted along the trails. Head to the top of the ridge to find the panoramic Link Sculpture – well worth the climb!
City dwellers - have you tried the Canterbury Ring Walks? There are three routes to choose from, depending how ambitious you are feeling. For a gentle jaunt, try the two mile Inner Ring around the city walls, or step up to the 10 mile Middle Ring walk for a walk through beautiful countryside. When lockdown is lifted, try the 20 mile Outer Ring. It's best tackled in segments – unless you’re a walking pro! – but is well worth exploring if you want some of the most striking views so the city.
On your bike
Make the most of the weekends and get out early to explore your local area on two wheels. There are plenty of routes to discover, whether you want a gentle ride or a full-on fitness challenge.
The Crab and Winkle Way between Canterbury and Whitstable is a pleasant 7.6 mile route through rolling countryside and ancient woodland, and is a relatively easy ride for a family day out. Start at Canterbury and end up on Whitstable beach.
If you’re looking for something more ambitious, the Elham Valley Way covers 21.4 miles from Canterbury down to the south coast and will take you through the secret byways and unspoilt villages of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Expect pastures, orchards, woods, historic hedgerows, and quaint churches!
If you’ve never discovered the Stodmarsh Nature Reserve, now is the time – this unique area of wetland with marshes, reedbeds, lakes and woodland that is home to a rich variety of wildlife especially water birds. Owned by Natural England, it is the perfect place to spot bittern, marsh harriers and the shining ramshorn snail, as well as water voles! The waymarked trails across the Reserve meander past wildlife hotspots and viewing hides. When the reeds are dappled with frost, you can’t ask for a more magical winter day out.
If you’re lucky (and you stick to the designated footpaths), you might also spot some rare birds and coastal creatures at Long Rock, an internationally important coastal area between Whitstable and Herne Bay and another Site of Special Scientific Interest. Careful cultivation and protection of the area has allowed water vole, Brent geese, and a variety of rare plants to thrive, and the route is linked to the Oyster Bay Trail and Viking Coastal Trail. Perfect for a quiet stroll or a long bike ride.
For more animal spotting, head out to Wraik Hill and Foxes Cross Bottom where you can spot ponies and highland cattle grazing in the ancient Blean woodland.
Parks and recreation
When it comes to keeping the kids active, head to your nearest play park for some much-needed laughter. Toddler’s Cove, Reculver Country Park and Tower and Waltrop Gardens each have their own exciting playgrounds.
And for grown-ups who need to take things a little more slowly, a trip to your nearest park is the perfect way to get some fresh air and Vitamin D without wearing yourself out. We recommend grabbing a flask of tea or take away coffee, picking a bench in Westgate Gardens, and taking a moment to enjoy the winter foliage and riverside scenery in peace and tranquillity.
Businesses across Canterbury, Whitstable and Herne Bay look forward to welcoming you back into our city and towns after lockdown. They continue to work hard to keep you safe and follow government’s covid guidelines. For example, adapting their spaces to allow you to maintain social distance, wearing face coverings, having hand sanitising stations, introducing one way systems and reduced capacity, taking online bookings only, offering contactless collection and delivery, and, where applicable, following the government's Track and Trace guidelines.