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Trip List by Skiboy 20/20

The Garden of England - a stone's throw from Central London!

10 Oct 2006  After moving to Kent about four years ago, I have come to look at this beautiful county of England as my home and my new life. Let me share some of my experiences and guide you through the 'Garden of England'.
4.5 of 5 bubbles based on 1 vote

Only around 40 miles south east of London and you enter a world of greenery, quaint villages, cultural and historic heritage and 'The Garden of England'. So close yet so far from the madding crowds of London, you'll discover the true England on London's doorstep. A short drive or trip by train from Central London, and you'll appreciate the the open, green and pleasant land of the county of Kent. Named the 'Garden of England' where fruit grows abundant, vineyards dot the landscape and around every corner a picturesque village scene, a medieval castle, a stately home or a beautiful array of landscaped gardens.

Follow in Chaucer's footsteps and see for yourself the delights of this beautiful county of Kent.

  • Category: Perfect weekend
  • Traveler type: Culture, Sightseeing, Shopping, Active/Outdoors, Never been before
  • Appeals to: Couples/romantics, Singles, Families with small children, Families with teenagers, Large groups, Seniors, Students, Tourists
  • Seasons: Winter, Spring, Summer, Fall
  • 1. Maidstone, County town of Kent, UK

    My home town, the centre of Kent, the County town of the Garden of England.
    Maidstone is easily accessible by car or train from London either by taking the M20 motorway, or by train from Victoria or London Bridge stations. From London Bridge the journey time is about 45 minutes and Victoria station, about 1 hour 15 minutes depending upon the time of day.

    Maidstone is a medieval market town, now quite modern with a great shopping centre and yet still retaining the old past with tudor houses and old fashioned pubs, cobbled old streets and arcades and a wealth of history around the River Medway and the Archbishops palace. The Archbishops palace stands proudly against a river backdrop and medieval bridge and church. Maidstone in itself is very pleasant, yet use the town as your central point and you'll find a gem of history and beautiful villages and countryside around the town and beyond.

    The town has an abundance of fine hotels and restaurants, cafes and evening entertainment for all ages. During the day, in Maidstone, you must take a 'River Cruise' boat to the Malta Inn on the banks of the Medway river. Take the boat from the river station, by the side of the Archbishops palace and Bridge and experience a relaxing and thoroughly enjoyable trip (return) up the Medway river. (Spring and Summer months only, check on the website for more details I suggest). At the Malta Inn you can stop off for several hours if you don't wish to return immediately. Here you can take lunch at the restaurant by the river or simply sit back with a glass of wine or local ale and enjoy the riverside. Alternatively, just by the side of the Malta Inn, you will find the 'Kent Life Open Museum'. (Cobtree). Here you will find fine examples of local village architecture from yesteryears, you can visit the old tea rooms, visit the rare breeds on the working farm and learn about the old industry of the area 'Hop' growing. The experience takes you back from Medieval to Wartime WWII Kent and you'll experience a true sense of country life and local Kent heritage. Hop back on the boat for a leisurely cruise back into town!

  • 2. The Museum of Kent Life, Cobtree, Maidstone, Kent, UK.

    The Museum of Kent Life is an open air museum, depicting various aspects of Kent Life and the history of 'The Garden of England'. Visit an 'Oast House' where hops for beer production were collected and dried. Visit the local village tea room for local tea and cakes, take a trip back in time to WWII and see how Kent survived the war. There's a host of various old village houses, fully decorated and propped, to walk inside and view. Have you ever seen inside an old Kent Farmhouse? You'll be intrigued. It's a great place to visit and great fun and educational for the kids aswell, with rare breeds and various farm animals to get up close to and investigate!
    When you leave the Museum, return to Maidstone by boat along the Medway or take a quiet leisurely stroll along the banks of the river by the toll path, all the way back into Maidstone town. Very flat and depending on your walking pace, will take around 45 minutes to an hour. Visit the Millenium Park on the way back to town, over the bridge! Great day out for all the family!

  • 3. Leeds Castle, Kent. UK.

    Leeds Castle is advertised as 'The Most Beautiful Castle in the World'... and I can honestly say that this is well worthy of this attraction. I have seen and visited many castles in and around England and Europe, and this must rank as one of the most beautiful!

    The Castle dates back a thousand years, surrounded by walls and mote, beautiful architecture and acres of green land with some of the most extensive gardens and horticultural delights including, lakes and waterfalls, forests and numerous types of wildlife. The castle is certainly romantic and inside the castle, a joy to walk through a thousand years of history and renovation by successive owners including Henry VIII and Queen Elizabeth I. Visit the old cellars, the splendid dining rooms and state apartments and take your tour at leisure. Fully recommended. Take a bus from Maidstone town centre or train from Maidstone or London Victoria to the following village to Maidstone, Bearsted. Here a shuttle bus will take you to the castle.

    The castle also has a train to get you around the estate, a maze, several picnic areas and recreational areas, restaurants, cafes, and a bird sanctuary. A fantastic 'Bird of Prey' exhibition in the castle grounds is well worth a visit too!