This is Kent's enticing blend of ancient and modern at its very best. Here international rail links, thriving market towns and world-class chefs meet history-rich villages, idyllic countryside and superb local vineyards.
Money-wise fashionistas flock to McArthurGlen’s Ashford Outlet for discount designer labels, and to Ashford's County Square. There's history here too. Ashford’s heritage trail leads down lanes lined with mediaeval, Jacobean and Georgian homes. Nearby is Godinton House - one of Kent's finest historic estates. To eat and sleep in style choose from classy cooking at the Secret Garden; country house luxury at Eastwell Manor; the sleek Ashford International Hotel; and two Holiday Inns.
All around Ashford lies bewitching heritage Kent. A centuries-old landscape that's also home to world-class vineyards such as Chapel Down Winery.
As anyone who has visited the town will tell you the picturesque 'Cinque Port' of Tenterden has every reason to declare itself 'The Jewel of the Weald'. Its fine High Street must rank amongst the most attractive in the Country with historic houses, shops, restaurants and pubs separated from the carriageway by wide expanses of tree-lined grass verges.
Tenterden, is an appealing town with a tree-lined green and a wealth of independent shops and architectural rarities. Steam along on the Kent & East Sussex Railway, head for 16th-century Smallhythe Place, or make for delightful and photogenic Stocks Windmill.
Nearby book in for an exclusive experience among 40 big cats at the Wildlife Heritage Foundation or, for a hands on animal experience, visit the beautiful 100 acre farm at the South of England Rare Breeds Centre.
Timeless villages are everywhere, all with a delightful scattering of welcoming B&B’s. Walkers love historic Wye, home to the New Flying Horse inn. Fifteenth-century Chilham often doubles as a movie set. Pluckley is quintessential Kent. Rolvenden is home to Lutyens-designed Great Maytham Hall. Biddenden features gorgeous Kentish half-timbered buildings; take in the Michelin-starred The West House, and Biddenden Vineyards, while you're there.
Hike it off on stunning trails: the North Downs Way, Pilgrims Way, Greensand Way and Saxon Shore Way wind beside landscapes that are packed with Kentish apples, pears and cherries, peppered with nature reserves (the SSSIs of Hothfield Heathlands and Orlestone Forest), and dotted with ancient woodland - such as Henry VIII's old hunting ground, Kings Wood at Challock.
Image courtesy of Visit Kent.
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