10 peaceful places in Kent where you can escape the crowds

PUBLISHED: 12:01 18 December 2020 | UPDATED: 18:01 18 December 2020

[1]  Pegwell Bay Nature reservie is a great place to escape and refresh, but always treat it with respect; take nothing and and leave nothing behind - Manu Palomeque

[1] Pegwell Bay Nature reservie is a great place to escape and refresh, but always treat it with respect; take nothing and and leave nothing behind - Manu Palomeque

Manu Palomeque 07977074797

Is life still feeling a bit overwhelming? Head for any of these 10 peaceful spots in Kent to help you find that much-needed bubble of calm | Words: Holly Louise Eells

1) Pegwell Bay

Time spent beside the sea can leave you feeling exhilarated, relaxed and refreshed, so perhaps Pegwell Bay, which forms part of the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve and has stunning views of Sandwich and Deal to the west and the cliffs of Ramsgate to the east, should be your next pit stop for escapism.

This coastal haven is Kent Wildlife Trust’s largest nature reserves at 615 hectares and one of its most important, with the only ancient dune pasture in Kent.

It is made up of a complex mosaic of habitats: inter-tidal mudflats, saltmarsh, shingle beach, sand dunes, ancient dune pastures, chalk cliffs, wave cut platform and coastal scrubland.

The reserve is of international importance for its waders and wildfowl, best seen over winter or during the spring and autumn migrations. It has also received a Green Flag Award from Keep Britain Tidy, so if you do visit be utterly respectful of your surroundings, observe social distancing rules and most importantly of all, leave nothing behind but your footprints.

Please note that at the time of writing the play area and toilets are closed.

Sandwich & Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve, Ramsgate CT12 5JB

Pegwell Bay

2) Bedgebury National Pinetum

It is well known that time spent in nature helps boost your wellbeing and award-winning Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest is just the place to do that.

This enchanting forest offers a variety of different trails to try and with 2,000-plus to explore, each visit will be different.

While exploring, be sure to take a moment to marvel at the extraordinary collection of conifers, in Forestry England’s words: “It is the most complete collection of coniferous trees anywhere in the world.”

Please note that at the time of writing there is ticketed entry to the Pinetum only, that play equipment and play areas are shut and there will be only limited facilities available.

Bedgebury National Pinetum and Forest, Goudhurst TN17 2SJ


3) St Margaret’s Bay

Fresh sea air is good for both body and soul and even if you are outside for just 15-30 minutes a day, it can significantly improve your wellbeing.

With the fabulous weather we have enjoyed durring and beyond lockdown, why not head to St Margaret’s Bay to give yourself an instant boost?

Sitting on the 160-mile Saxon Shore Way, this shingle beach offers a bit of peace and quiet in the heart of award-winning White Cliffs County.

While you’re there, enjoy a stroll up onto the clifftop and do the circular 4.7-mile St Margaret’s Bay Walk to enjoy the stunning views.

St Margaret’s Bay at Cliffe, Dover CT15 6AU

St. Margaret's-at-Cliffe

4) Emmetts Garden

Gardens and the act of gardening itself make us feel happier. In The Garden of England we are spoilt for choice wherever you are in the county, but Emmetts Garden near Sevenoaks also has the benefit of spectacular views and a variety of different gardens to explore on site.

At the time of writing, the gardens and toilets are open at this National Trust treasure, but the rock garden is closed. We particularly like the South Garden, where you’ll find an impressive collection of hardy exotic trees and shrubs.

You will need to book your visit in advance and please be aware that will be turned away if you arrive without a booking. New tickets are released every Friday.

Emmetts Garden, Ide Hill, near Sevenoaks TN14 6BA

Emmetts Garden

5) Botany Bay

This county definitely leaves you spoilt for choice with its abundance of secluded spots, none finer than one of our most-photographed bays, Botany Bay, with its iconic chalk stacks.

Awarded both a Blue Flag and Seaside Award in 2019, the highest honour that can be bestowed upon a stretch of sand or shingle, it is said to be one of Kent’s best-kept secrets. Beaches are some of the most enjoyable natural features this earth has to offer us, so take advantage of this beautiful bay while it is still a quiet spot.

When the tide is out, Botany Bay is a great location for fossil hunting and exploring rock pools. There is plenty of exposed sand to enjoy when the tide is in, but due to the bay’s shape, please be aware that the ends are cut off at high tide.

A dog ban is in place 1 May to 30 September, when dogs are not permitted on the beach between 10am and 6pm. Car parking is limited and please be mindful that this is a residential area.

Botany Bay, Broadstairs, CT10 3LG

Dawn-Watching at Botany Bay

6) Hothfield Heathlands Nature Reserve

With the stresses and strains of everyday life, being in the wild outdoors can help the body and mind. So, when the going gets tough, head to The Hothfield Heathlands Nature Reserve.

Being one of the last remaining heathlands in Kent, it’s a very special place to visit. Managed by Kent Wildlife Trust, the common land extends over 58-hectares and boasts an extensive area of heath, woodland, and fantastically rich and varied wildlife.

So, enjoy some outdoor exercise with its variety of walks and clear the cobwebs in your head as well as the muscles.

Heathlands, Ashford TN26 1HD


7) Foal Farm Animal Rescue Centre

It is scientifically proven that being around animals can offer a great way to reduce anxiety, stress and help nourish the soul.

At the time of writing, animal sanctuary Foal Farm Animal Rescue Centre was closed but it is worth keeping an eye on the website to see if and when restrictions are being eased.

This registered charity takes in as many sick, distressed and unwanted animals as possible and restores them back to good health and happiness. All the animals are kept on the 26-acre farm, including dogs, rabbits, cats and other small animals for you to visit and even re-home.

If no suitable home can be found, Foal Farm provides life-long sanctuary for animals that have nowhere else to go. Sponsorship opportunities are available if you wish to help this valuable work.

Foal Farm Animal Rescue Centre, Biggin Hill TN16 3AX

8) Clowes Wood

Being active has a whole range of positive benefits when it comes to your wellbeing. It improves self-perception and self-esteem, mood and sleep quality, reduces stress, anxiety and fatigue. A perfect suggestion for embracing the wild outdoors is Clowes Wood.

The mixed woodland, which covers a total area of over 236-hectares, provides endless opportunity for an adventure.

For example, if you are up for a challenge try the Big Blean Walk, a 25-mile circular walk or The Crab and Winkle Way, a 7.5-mile cycle and walking trail running between Whitstable and Canterbury.

Clowes Wood, Blean CT5 3ER


9) RSPB Cliffe Pools

If you are looking for a spot of escapism, wilderness and calm, Cliffe Pools is a remote and beautiful landscape with open horizons – the ideal destination for long summer walks and for watching spectacular numbers of wintering waders.

Located on the Isle of Grain, this RSPB gem offers a remote landscape with a spectacular combination of open horizons, endless water and stunning big skies, which makes it a delight all year round.

Here, you can feed your soul and get your heart pumping with its number of fantastic trails, that include the pools, beautiful wildlife and The River Thames running alongside.

Whatever you choose, remember to do it safely and responsibly. Check the webiste before visiting for latest updates.

RSPB Cliffe Pools, Salt Lane, Rochester ME3 7SX

Cliffe Pools

10) Groombridge Enchanted Forest

Immerse yourself and get lost in the moment at the award-winning Gardens and Enchanted Forest at Groombridge Place. Definitely home to the imagination, there’s magic, history, romance and peace, a perfect place to refresh your mind and get lost in the heavenly gardens.

An unforgettable experience and a romantic delight offering luxury of an abundance of time for mindful reflection and gratitude.

The gardens were used in 2005 for filming of Jane Austen’s beloved novel now turned movie Pride and Prejudice, so you can expect to see some superb vistas.

At the time of writing a pre-booking only system was in operation with visitors able to book 15-minute arrival time slots from the website booking page.

Groombridge Enchanted Forest, Tunbridge Wells TN3 9QG

A Deer in The Enchanted Forest, Groombridge


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