5 wildflower walks in Kent with pubs along the way
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Drink in the sight and smell of our native blooms on one of these wonderful wildflower walks
- Wye Downs, nr Ashford
The Wye National Nature Reserve, managed by Natural England, encompasses 134 hectares of beautiful woodland, scrub, and chalk downland. Enjoy dramatic views over the Devil's Kneading Trough dry valley; and look out for wildlife (such as the chalk hill blue and Adonis blue butterflies, and nightingales), and wildflowers (such as bluebells, wood anemones, spider orchids and cowslips) as you stroll amid this part of the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. Enjoy a short walk upon the nature trail, or a longer hike upon the North Downs Way (OS Explorer Map 137).
Refuel at: The Kings Head in Wye is a great pub offering a tasty, hearty menu that includes vegetarian, dairy-free, and gluten-free options, and excellent puddings.
- Blue Bell Hill, nr Aylesford
This chalk hill between Rochester and Maidstone is part of the North Downs, and treats walkers to panoramic views over the Weald. The south-west slopes are a Site of Special Scientific Interest, and include a range of wildflowers, such as bee orchids, and butterflies, such as the chalk hill blue. Both the North Downs Way, and the Pilgrims Way traverse the site, so there are plenty of walks to enjoy (OS Explorer Map 148).
Refuel at: The Robin Hood pub is a 700-year old country inn that was once visited by pilgrims travelling on the Pilgrims' Way. Families are very welcome, and the menu offers a range of light and hearty traditional pub food, including some vegetarian dishes.
- Reculver Country Park, nr Herne Bay
This coastal nature reserve is a great spot for a seaside walk. Enjoy views over the estuary, the history of the old sea forts, soaring birds (such as kestrels and marsh harriers) and cliff-top wildflower meadows. There is a 5.6km (3.5 mile) circular walk on the Explore Kent website, encompassing the ruin of St Mary's Church, as well as a longer 10.7km (6.7 mile) Oyster Bay Trail for mountain bikes.
Refuel at: The King Ethelbert Inn at Reculver, just a stone's throw from the sea, offers a traditional pub menu, and welcomes families.
- Darland Banks, nr Chatham
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Drink in the views and enjoy wild flowers such as man orchids in this 43-hectare reserve amid the Medway towns. The Kent Wildlife Trust reserve encompasses woodland, scrub, and chalk grassland, whose native blooms provide nectar for rare butterflies. A circular stroll around Darland Banks is only 4km (2.5 miles), but be warned that the site includes steep slopes.
Refuel at: The Waggon at Hale is a family friendly pub very close to Darland Banks, and offers a range of traditional pub food, as well as fajita wraps, vegetarian dishes, and a children's menu.
- Stoneacre, nr Maidstone
Stoneacre is a medieval yeoman's house managed by the National Trust, situated in Otham, just outside Maidstone. The lovely garden encompasses orchards, and meadows of wild flowers, and leads out onto woodland walks over the Otham Valley.
Please note that Stoneacre is usually only open on Saturdays, but you can walk past it, setting off from Otham, over the ford, passing Stoneacre Farm and then enjoying a circular walk through orchards; you could do a short circular via Otham Hole, Ledian Farm, and Spot Farm, or a longer loop via Broomfield and Leeds (OS Explorer Map 148).
Refuel at: The Plough at Langley offers excellent food from hearty bar and a la carte menus, with vegetarian options.