Maidstone Countryside & Riverside
At the heart of the Garden of England, Kent’s historic County Town of Maidstone is set within a region of wide fertile river valleys and ancient woodlands, dotted with prosperous villages. The area is bounded to the north by the Pilgrims’ Way, an ancient route between London and Canterbury, along the edge of the North Downs, and to the south by the gentle rolling landscape of the Kent Weald.
Here you will find vineyards producing great wines and ciders, such as the Hush Heath Estate near Staplehurst. Visitors are welcome to explore the vineyards, orchards and woodlands through a series of trails and to sample some of the produce from the state-of-the-art winery that has received world class awards and recognition. Biddenden Vineyard is Kent’s oldest family-owned vineyard and produces great wines and ciders. There is also a café and a small shop selling lots of local produce.
Each season brings new delights with woods full of bluebells, plums and cherries in the orchards and golden autumn leaves in the forests and vineyards. Ragstone walls, weatherboarding and Kent peg tiles characterise much of the architecture in Maidstone and its villages, alongside traditional oast houses, once used to dry hops from the surrounding fields, now mostly converted to beautiful homes.
Kent Life is a premier farm attraction in Maidstone and has the last coal-fired oast house in the country, where you can learn all about the traditions of hop-picking. The 28 acre site celebrates age-old farming traditions, with lots of rare breeds and historic buildings to discover.
Farmers’ markets provide good quality, mouth-watering local produce and locally made goods, where shoppers can find genuine Kentish products. They are held around Maidstone in the picturesque villages of Lenham, Headcorn, Sutton Valence, East Farleigh, Aylesford and Yalding. Most run either monthly or fortnightly, so there is usually at least one taking place each weekend.
The River Medway runs through the centre of Maidstone with many villages located along its banks. These serve as ideal stopping points for visitors exploring the river, whether on the water by boat or canoe, or along the edges on foot or by bike.
As you would expect for the County Town and the beautiful surrounding countryside, the area is bursting with quality accommodation. Stately country house hotels, such as Chilston Park and homely inns like the Black Horse in Thurnham offer a great base from which to explore the Kent countryside.