Wrap up warm and explore the outdoors!
Fresh air, seascapes and countryside scenes - when it comes to winter walks and outdoor adventures, you'll be spoilt for choice in Canterbury, Herne Bay and Whitstable.
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.
Take a look at some of our top tips for outdoor activities this winter...
If you are working from home, remember to regularly take some time away from your screens (all of them!). 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 long 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 2 mile Inner Ring around the city walls, or step up to the 10 mile Middle Ring walk for a moderate 4 hour trek through beautiful countryside. The 20 mile Outer Ring is best tackled in segments – unless you’re a walking pro! – but is well worth exploring over the coming weeks if you want some of the most striking views of 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…maybe with some hot fish and chips as a reward?
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!
Don’t let the cold weather keep you away from the water. Consider a canoeing trip along the River Stour from Fordwich to Grove Ferry with Canoe Wild. Wrap up warm and join them on one of their extra special sunrise and sunset tours of the river and its wildlife, as well as magical winter guided tours.
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 for all.
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. Carefully cultivation and protection of the area have allowed water vole, Brent geese, and a variety of rare plants to thrive here, 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 good parking facilities nearby.
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 takeaway coffee, picking a bench in Westgate Gardens and taking some quiet time to enjoy the winter foliage and riverside scenery in peace and tranquillity. Give yourself time to unwind in nature this winter.
Take the pain out of planning your next route with Kent Connected app, a free journey planner that helps you to make smarter travel choices with your health, time, and environment in mind. The app uses integrated walking and cycling maps from Explore Kent along with bus and train routes to help you get around. So whether you want to find a new commuting route, or inspiration for your next jolly jaunt, Kent Connected will get you where you want to be.