Those keen hikers who live in the southeastern county of Kent will undoubtedly know the top places to go for an exciting hike. This is especially true if they live either in the middle of the Kent Downs or on the coast, where a coastal path passes right by their doorstep. However, even if you are new to the hiking world, there will be a wide range of hikes in Kent you can take on. You can also become inspired to try more challenging trails – like the 17.6 mile Folkestone to Dover Loop. Hiking in Kent is diverse.
These ultimate 10 hikes in Kent, especially if completed in good weather, will undoubtedly provide some of the best countryside and coastal views and give you a good handful of hours to forget the troubles of daily life. Especially when you hike in Kent with your friends, family, or pet dog.
Hikes in Kent for Beginners
Scotney Castle Loop from Lamberhurst
Distance: 4.2 miles
Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
Located on the outskirts of Kent, Scotney Castle is a quaint yet romantic castle surrounded by a moat and in a wooded estate. This is just one of Kent’s hikes that is very friendly to those starting hiking thanks to its slight inclines and easily accessible paths.
The hike starts in Lamberhurst Village near Tunbridge Wells, and from there, you can proceed to hike to the castle itself while finding some perfect checkpoints to stop and rest as you take in the views, some of which include the castle in some capacity. You’ll also come across some hop fields as you hike past Little Scotney Farm, where hops are dried to help create the local Scotney Ale.
Lympne Castle & Howletts & Port Lympne Wildlife Reserve Loop
Distance: 2.3 miles
Time: 1 hour 5 minutes
This simple hike is ideal for those wishing to visit the Port Lympne Wildlife Reserve on the same day and don’t have time to complete a massive hike. After some slight elevation, you can make out some coastal views of the Strait of Dover. Some eagle-eyed hikers could also about make out France if they are lucky.
If that’s not the case, the views of the wild animals in this reserve will make up for this. You can even spot animals belonging to the big three (elephants, rhinos, and hippos). Lympne Castle, where the Archbishop of Canterbury used to live, can also be spotted on this hike.
The River Stour & Sandwich Bay Loop from Sandwich
Distance: 4.55 miles
Time: 1 hour 50 minutes
As well as being another excellent hike for beginners, you will get a short taste of one of eastern Kent’s coastal paths on Sandwich Bay. You’ll then stroll through The Royal St George’s Golf Club to continue onwards to the main town of Sandwich.
The town itself is, of course, named after the popular food item invented by John Montague in the 18th century. While you explore, you will certainly get the sense that the buildings there provide that medieval feel to them. You can also visit Sandwich Quay, where the River Stour is located. Here, you will find various cafes and restaurants to help you refuel for the rest of the hike back to Sandwich Bay.
Intermediate Hikes in Kent
Ightham Mote Circular Walk to Wilmot Hill
Distance: 4 miles
Time: 2 hours
A short drive from Sevenoaks will give you another opportunity to journey back in time as you wander through the estate of Ightham Mote. Starting at this Mote and walking along the Greensand Way, you can come across some romantic views of the Mote itself. More views can be found as you climb up slightly steeply to reach the top of Wilmot Hill.
Towards the end of this hike, you either have the option to return to the car park where you began this hike or take a stroll through the Ightham Mote garden. After this walk, you can treat yourself to a coffee as you sit on the veranda overlooking the garden and grounds.
Octavia Hill Centenary Trail West
Distance: 6 miles
Time: 3 hours 30 minutes
Octavia Hill was the founder of the National Trust, formed in 1895, and this hiking route will highlight some of the meaningful places that were an essential part of her life. These places include Toys Hill, where this hike begins; Crockham Church, located close to where Octavia lived; and Mariners Hill, where a seat commemorates Octavia Hill’s mother (Caroline Southward Hill) for being an inspiration to her.
There is also the option here to complete another walk towards the east side of Toys Hill, which suits those who want to take on something slightly more accessible and shorter by 2 miles. There is no shame in doing this, as you will still learn a lot about Octavia Hill.
White Cliffs of Dover Visitor Centre to Dover Castle Trail
Distance: 1.25 miles
Time: 30 minutes
It is possibly the shortest hike that Kent offers, but it must not be taken as a simple hike. This is because of the steep gradients that can be found at the beginning of this hike and toward the end. However, the marvellous views of Dover and the Dover Strait are completely visible as you climb up these steep gradients.
Views of the ferries arriving at, and departing from, Dover Port can also be discovered here. Keep your eyes peeled for any whales (this area of Kent is also brilliant for finding accommodation with ocean views). Walking away from these views, you will find views of Dover Castle as you walk along the streets on the outskirts of the centre of Dover. If you wish to go into the castle itself, you have the option to purchase a ticket at the entrance gate.
Mariners Hill From Chartwell Walk
Distance: 1.4 miles
Time: 45 minutes
Chartwell is a place in Kent that is well associated with Sir Winston Churchill because this was where his long-time home was based. As you walk alongside Mapleton Road, you will be sure to come across a handful of benches where you can take a quick break and overlook the beauty of the Weald.
If hiking here in the spring, you will be greeted by bluebells that completely carpet the woodland you walk through. Some occasional rough terrain can also be expected on this route, so good hiking boots here are an absolute must.
Challenging Hikes in Kent
Hollingbourne Station to Leeds Castle Circular Walk
Distance: 13.5 miles
Time: 5 hours 30 minutes
Hollingbourne Station is used here as a centre point in a hiking route which can be completed in the style of a figure of eight. Noise levels increase as you walk around the motorway that crosses through this hike, but you can also expect peace and quiet as you walk through the Civiley Wood later on in the hike. This serenity is what most people pursue when hiking in Kent.
Some steep elevations here are expected. However, there is a good selection of pubs where you can take a break and treat yourself to a pint. On the second half of the hike, you will be able to view the outskirts of Leeds Castle and hike near a museum you wouldn’t expect to find very often, dedicated to dog collars.
Sandwich to Fordwich Trail
Distance: 12.5 miles
Time: 4 hours 20 minutes
This hiking route mentions Sandwich for the second time. However, this time, it is a starting point that will take you into the countryside. Mercifully, this challenging route is mostly flat with few steep inclines. You will also be transported back to the Saxon period as you pass the Richborough Roman Fort and Amphitheatre.
As well as stopping here to learn more about the history of this fort, this hike will take you through the Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve. Keen birdwatchers and hikers can take as long as they wish to stop, get their binoculars out, and spot species of birds that they can tick off their lists.
Folkestone to Dover Loop on the Saxon Shore Way
Distance: 17.6 miles
Time: 7 hours 45 minutes
This is the hiking route to complete if you love having the sea breeze running right past you. This is because around half of the route is situated on the Saxon Shore Way, and it will be hard to resist stopping every five minutes to take in the views of the Strait of Dover.
Suppose you are taking this hike on Remembrance Day. In that case, you will come across the Battle of Britain Memorial, another good place to stop, especially if you wish to hold your two-minute silence to commemorate the heroes who fought and died for their country. But, of course, where you stop on this hike is entirely up to you, and you will certainly be spoilt for choice from the many viewpoints to stop at as you make your way to Dover and back again to Folkestone.
Conclusion: Hiking in Kent
As you have seen, hiking in Kent is certainly not a household chore, proving to be very tiresome. However, it is actually something that helps you embrace Kent’s countryside and become interested in the history lessons that each hike in Kent gives you, big or small. Of course, this is mainly thanks to this southeastern county’s houses, mansions, and castles.
Although we have the Kent Downs to thank for the wide range of hikes, we can also thank the coastline of Kent for providing hikers with a mental picture of the beautiful seascapes that are painted in their minds (with the addition of the passing boats of course).
From the White Cliffs of Dover to the heart of the Kent Downs’ countryside, hiking in Kent will never fail to keep you excited. Looking for more hikes in the UK? Check out our guide on the best walks in the Yorkshire Dales – and if you have a dog, you can even include a few dog-friendly pubs on the way. Or head even further north with these top winter walks in Scotland. Happy hiking!
By Louie Amos
Louie Amos is a freelance travel writer currently operating in the UK. Having achieved his BCJ Diploma in Travel Journalism, he regularly posts articles on his website The Travelling Foodie, as well as Everything UK Travel