10 Places to Visit in Kent for a Peaceful Escape

For teaching staff, the summer holidays are an ideal time to relax, recover and recharge the batteries. The 2020 to 2021 school year has continued to present new challenges for school staff with the pandemic and subsequent lockdowns. As well as facilitating home learning, school staff are key workers who have been in school throughout the pandemic, juggling educating and supporting key worker children in school as well as providing remote learning and support for pupils working from home. Understandably the last year has been difficult to navigate for teaching staff. Teaching is already a stressful profession with studies revealing school staff are amongst the most stressed workers in the United Kingdom. 

Despite this, there has been an increase in the number of people applying to complete teacher training. In January 2021, UCAS released data that showed a huge increase in the number of teacher training applications; the number of applications were 42% higher than the same time a year previously. 

Teaching is one of the most rewarding professions in the world which has a lasting impact on the lives of hundreds of pupils throughout childhood into adulthood. The role of the teacher is indisputably vital. 

With the summer holidays now in full swing, it is essential that teachers put away the laminators and take a break from lesson planning and classroom prepping in order to take a much-needed break. Teaching is a busy profession with no 2 days the same and can seemingly have a never-ending 'To-Do' list! This is exactly why it is so important for teaching staff to rest and invest in their wellbeing.

With such a busy and forward-facing job role, it is understandable that teaching staff might be seeking some peace, quiet and tranquillity. Luckily, in Kent, we are blessed with multiple locations that are perfect for soaking up the silence, escaping the crowds and leaving all thoughts of work, home and any issues behind for a few hours. 

We have collated a list of 10 places in Kent which are perfect for clearing the mind and enjoying the quiet.

The Friars - Aylesford Priory, Aylesford

Tranquil, relaxing and peaceful are the three words chosen to describe The Friars on their website, so you can be certain of a positive and calm experience during your visit. The Friars has a fascinating history. A small community of Carmelite Friars reside here and this has been the case since 1242. The Carmelites did leave The Friars in 1538 at the dissolution of the monasteries, returning in 1949. The Friars is a true gem nestled in the heart of Kent. There are stunning grounds for guests to explore, medieval buildings to marvel, serene walks in the Peace Garden and Rosary Way as well as the opportunity to feed the resident geese and ducks. History lovers will relish the interesting past of The Friars and, if you are a fan of art, you can experience the amazing work of Polish artist Adam Kossowski. Visitors are also able to visit the pottery and watch local artists at work! Entry is free and there is a lovely tea room and separate restaurant to enjoy a well-deserved break and refreshment.

The Old Lighthouse, Dungeness

In our blog, ’10 Beaches in Kent to Visit this Summer’, we discuss the reasons why Dungeness should be firmly on your list of places to visit! Situated near Romney Marsh, Dungeness is a remote and barren location with 2 lighthouses punctuating the otherwise flat land. Dungeness houses a fascinating environment and is classified as a desert. There is a diverse range of wildlife in Dungeness such as over 600 species of plants and an assortment of rare insects. If this isn’t enough to persuade you to pay a visit to Dungeness then the Dungeness Lighthouse will certainly help sway you! The Old Lighthouse is a Grade 11 building which was listed in 1992. The lighthouse was officially opened by His Royal Majesty the Prince of Wales in 1904. The lighthouse survived 2 world wars before being decommissioned in 1960. Due to the pandemic, the lighthouse has remained closed but is set to reopen its doors on the 31st July 2021 to visitors. It is cheap to visit the lighthouse with admission costing £4.50 for adults. Climb to the top and absorb the stunning views of the landscape. Dungeness is a quiet location and is perfect for nature lovers and those who love to be near the sea. 

Pegwell Bay Country Park, Sandwich

Forming part of the Sandwich and Pegwell Bay Nature Reserve, Pegwell Bay offers breath-taking views, houses an abundance of wildlife and is ideal for cyclists and walkers. There are many birds to be seen at Pegwell Bay and features a hide for bird watchers to observe undercover. It is a coastal haven with plenty of opportunity to behold the beauty of nature in peaceful surroundings.

Bedgebury Pinetum, Goudhurst

As the name suggests, Bedgebury Pinetum is perfect for those who love to be immersed in the wonderful world of trees. If you are a fan of forests and woodland, then Bedgebury Pinetum should definitely be top of your list to visit. It is an award-winning attraction which holds appeal for a wide range of visitors of varying interests and ages. Immerse yourself beneath the renowned conifer collection whilst enjoying the peace and quiet. It is an ideal spot for a picnic as well as having a wonderful café on site for visitors to enjoy. There are 3 walking trails and 3 cycling trails to explore with dogs welcome. 

Charles Dickens’ Walk, Higham

Charles Dickens resided in Kent for the latter part of his life after he found inspiration for many of his novels in our beautiful county. Gads Hill Place in Higham was purchased by Charles Dickens and is still there today. The area surrounding Gads Hill Place was the inspiration for Great Expectations with the abundance of marshland and countryside. With his affiliation to Higham, it is unsurprising that one Higham walking trail is called the Charles Dickens Walk! Higham itself is a small, peaceful and quiet village offering acres of beautiful countryside to explore. The Charles Dickens Walk is 9.7km walk which is ideal for all walking abilities. As mentioned, Charles Dickens found inspiration for his novels here and in surrounding areas. You can be sure to experience calm and clarity on your walk as well as the opportunity to observe the beauty of nature and draw inspiration from the stunning surroundings. 

Doddington Place Gardens, Faversham

If you are a lover of flowers, gardening and nature then Doddington Place Gardens could be the ideal attraction for you. The gardens are located near Sittingbourne and Faversham. It is nestled in the very heart of the North Downs in an area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. English Heritage have recognised the landscaped gardens as being of historical importance. The 10-acre gardens are in the grounds of a Victorian mansion. The beauty of the gardens have been recognised by numerous organisations and the media, featuring in several magazines and newspapers. It has even appeared on TV on multiple occasions. If you are seeking an escape from reality or long for a break from the urban lifestyle, Doddington Place Gardens is the ideal place for a tranquil and relaxing stroll surrounded by pure and undiluted beauty.

The White Cliffs of Dover

The White Cliffs of Dover are undoubtedly an iconic and unmissable landmark in Kent. They are representative of home and war time defence. The cliffs, now overseen by the National Trust, offer unparalleled coastal views overlooking the English Channel. It is an ideal location to enjoy a walk, absorbing the scenery and observing the natural world. You might even see some of the cliff’s ponies grazing! Did you know the Exmoor Ponies residing at the cliffs were brought in to help conserve the area? This eradicates the need for intensive human intervention. So, take a stroll at the White Cliffs of Dover, enjoy the breeze and the sound of the waves whilst observing the beauty of the surroundings and the abundance of wildlife. 

Elmley Nature Reserve, Isle of Sheppey

This very special nature reserve is the perfect place to ‘escape into nature’. A family run farm, Elmley are committed to protecting and restoring nature and are committed to the ‘sustainability of the landscape and land’. You can enjoy 3,300 acres of breath-taking beauty in this haven for wildlife. The family behind this special nature reserve describe it as, ‘…an extraordinary place to discover, to gather, marry, unwind, and connect with nature. With sustainability at the heart of everything we do, Elmley has beautiful and thoughtfully designed places to stay, bespoke service, huge skies, unforgettable wildlife experiences.’ The perfect place to let go of your stresses and enjoy the little and natural things in life. 

Lullingstone Country Park, nr. Eynsford 

Hosting a collection of ancient trees of international importance, Lullingstone Country Park is hub of natural beauty. There are over 300 veteran oak, beech, ash, hornbeam and sweet chestnut with some believed to be 800 years old. There are also chalk grassland areas which house beautiful orchid displays and stunning wildflowers in spring and summer. If you are a keen walker, there is a 6.5 mile walk to enjoy which touches on the nearby Shoreham. Near to the country park is Lullingstone Roman Villa for history fans and Lullingstone Castle. With a wide area to explore, it is not difficult to find calm and clarity at Lullingstone Country Park.

Hothfield Heathlands Nature Reserve

Did you know Hothfield Heathlands is one of the only remaining heathlands in Kent? This is an ideal place to escape the bustle of everyday life. There is a canopy of trees to pass through which then opens onto the wide and open Hothfield Heathlands. There are a variety of beautiful plants to enjoy particularly in the spring, such as Heather and gorse. Various bird species reside in the plants of Hothfield Heathlands, such as Yellowhammers, White Throat and Willow Warblers as well as a host of interesting insects underfoot – so, watch your step! There are clear paths to follow and there are even boardwalks to make wetter areas of the site accessible. As one of the only remaining heathlands in Kent, you can expect a unique and beautiful experience whilst being thoroughly absorbed into nature. 

To all teachers and school staff, make time for yourself this summer and give yourself the break you very much deserve. Relax, recover and reassemble your thoughts ahead of the new school year and visit one of the many peaceful and tranquil locations Kent has to offer. If you are feeling inspired to make the most of the beautiful county of Kent, our blog 5 Unique Places in Kent to Inspire a Love of Art is an ideal next read. Or, if you are struggling to recall the last time you put yourself first and need help improving your wellbeing, read our blog ‘Prioritise Your Wellbeing; Say “Yes” to Yourself’; it is a great place to start.

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