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Five Super Fun Guided Tours In Kent

18 January 2022

When done well, a guided tour is fun, entertaining, and informative. When done poorly, it’s a slow march around some old buildings with a guide reading from a sheet.

Having got a little bored of the same classic tours, I wanted to explore Kent, the county where I grew up and lived some of the time.

I wanted to see it through fresh eyes and with renewed enthusiasm. But I needed some help from local people who could offer something a bit different.

Here are five of my favourite guided tours on offer in the towns and countryside of Kent.

Sparkling and still delights

I’m a big fan of wine. In fact, it’s in my top five things in the world I reckon. So, my boyfriend and I have made an effort to explore the local Kent vineyards.

We hadn’t made it to Gusbourne in Snargate as their tours seemed a tiny bit early in the morning to get on the vino. But as well as guided tours which include tastings and a lunch option, they offer a self-guided option too.

Would it be a pootle through a field, or would we get more from it?

The grounds of Gusbourne are imposing. Relatively unique, they are both winegrowers and winemakers, and the grapes used in their winemaking are grown on-site.

We were greeted at The Nest and given a beautiful fold-out map of the estate, marked out with a half-an-hour walk around the ample grounds.

We learned why white roses are planted at the end of vines, the perfect soil for a Pinot Noir, and some of the history of the Great Saxon Shore Way which cuts right through.

Then the fun part. On our return to The Nest, some rather generous measures were poured for us to sample.

The classic Blanc de Blancs is made of the winery’s finest lots of Chardonnay, and exhibits nuttiness, minerality, and a fruity scent of orchards that befits the location.

Their distinctive sparkling English rosé is made from a blend of estate-grown Pinot Noir, Chardonnay, and Pinot Meunier, and is less cherry and fruity than much rosé.

What a perfect way to end the day.

Rambling across coast and country

Like many people, we took up a weekly countryside walk during the lockdown. We’ve trekked through wind, rain, and mud, and basked in sunlight through the trees.

Like Lisa of Coast & Country Rambles, there’s a happiness that comes from being outside enjoying the beautiful countryside.

 “I love my job as I encourage people to get off the beaten track and enjoy the countryside as much as I do!”, says Lisa.

“In Kent, there are over 4,000 miles of footpaths to discover (and a host of glorious country pubs!) I love the fact that I can go on a walk in my local area and still find something special I’ve not noticed before. 

“I’ve recently been picked to become a North Downs Way Ambassador and will use my new role to show others just what an amazing place the North Downs is!”

Her favourite place to walk is the Wye Downs. “It has everything. Awe-inspiring views, rare habitats encouraging rare insects and flowers, and rugged beauty!”

Their offering is more a weekend affair than an odd weekend, with walking breaks including Up On The Downs; Views, Valleys And Villages; An Explosion Of Beer & Oysters; and Five Villages And A Cinque Port.  

Running around historic streets

I’ve recently started running again and am loving it. So, the idea of doing a running tour around one of the most beautiful places in Kent was a win.

That’s why I investigated Canterbury Running Tours. Andy, who runs the company, started running about 12 years ago – he ran the London Marathon to mark ten years of remission of primary bone cancer in his leg.

“In that sense, running has been transformative for me really,” he says.

After a holiday in Bologna where he went on a running tour, he decided to bring one to this gorgeous city that is so rich with history, literature, and the arts.

We set out one dark November morning to head to Canterbury before the crowds and explore a place with lots to give. Andy is friendly and full of knowledge, telling us stories with enthusiasm and gusto.

We hear fascinating tales of Canterbury’s origins, learn about its complex relationship with the church, and discover some new etymological facts – always a win if you’re a bookish kind of couple.

The company started in February 2020 and has been resilient throughout the pandemic.

They now offer three tours: the 5km city tour; a longer 10km tour which heads into the neighbouring villages and countryside; and an evening tour which finishes at a local brewery with five taster glasses included.

Whether you’re runners looking to break up your training, new runners looking for a different way of doing things, or just history buffs, Andy loves meeting new people.

“I really enjoy showing people parts of Canterbury they would otherwise have missed,” he says.

My boyfriend and I loved it, and I was even more amazed when he said he liked being up before the sun.

Wonders will never cease.

Building up speed on an e-bike

Marcus, who runs UK Electric Bikes, has always been a keen cyclist, getting out on the roads and piling in the mileage.

But one triathlon too many meant he had to have both hips replaced. Not ready to hang up his helmet yet, he investigates e-bikes, and fell in love.

With self-guided tours around the vineyards of Kent does, you’ll find it’s easier up the hills and you can build more of a pace. Marcus says that it surprises people how much they enjoy it.

“Everyone gets an instant smile. No one has ever returned not grinning ear to ear,” he says.

They offer half and full-day self-guided tours, with the opportunity to visit different vineyards, castles, and the countryside in the Weald of Kent.

Foraging for fun

People often want more of the wild world in their lives, but it feels daunting and inaccessible. By taking people out on the coastal downs of Herne Bay, she helps people learn more about nature and appreciate it more.

It also has associations with pro-environmental behaviours that are essential for sustainability.

“The more we know about our own green spaces, the more people care and want to protect them,” says Amy Hitchcock of Forth & Forage.

“Even the 'weeds' in your back garden may earn a place when it comes to light how many are edible, nutritious, and delicious.”

The areas are fortunate to have coastal specialists such as seabeet (a superior spinach alternative) and wild plants in the carrot family which provide flavours ranging from scezhaun pepper to floral orange.

Summer fruits are especially abundant as cherries, plums, blackberries, and apples take their turn. And it’s surprising how much you can forage.

“I often ask how far guests think we need to go to find our first wild food plant,” says Amy.

“Answers vary, but we are usually meeting in front of one! It surprises people how many plants are edible or medicinal along a familiar footpath.” 

Tours are bespoke, and she also offers community classes.

Why not get out and discover some hidden gems?