How well do you know the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB)? It doesn’t matter if your answer is well, a little or not at all, there’s always something new to discover. Especially now, as Kent Downs AONB reveals dozens of fun, creative and authentic experiences in the area which are just perfect for families. Time to discover the true meaning of sustainable tourism? Then it’s definitely time to take your family #Up the Kent Downs for an extraordinary adventure.
Welcome to the vast, natural playground of the Kent Downs AONB
You know how excited kids get about playgrounds? Now imagine the thrill of one covering 326 square miles and open for playing 24/7, 365 days a year, that’s the Kent Downs AONB.
If you’re wondering what that enormous area encompasses, we can tell you it stretches from the White Cliffs of Dover all the way to Surrey, on the edge of London. Despite every inch of the Kent Downs AONB being a protected landscape, it’s still incredibly accessible for families. And if you think you know what wild, wonderful and completely unspoiled looks like, get ready to experience off-the-beaten-track on another level entirely.
Find 30 different ways to experience the Kent Downs AONB
Kent Downs AONB have created an inspiring range of 30 experiences, so families can make the most of every minute they spend here. There are things to do and see, places to go, skills to learn and activities to try which cover practically every possible interest from foraging to woodcarving, survival camp building and even wine tours and guided walks.
If you like to theme a family day out, a weekend away or an even longer break, Kent Downs AONB have that covered. Discover key themes which encompass all the basics like eating, sleeping and outdoor adventuring, then add exciting new experiences which might never have crossed your mind, until now. And we can’t help liking the cute play on ‘Downs’. Get it?
What will you get up to in the Kent Downs?
- Chow Downs let you discover the true taste of Kent from micro-farms and foraging to cookery classes and family-friendly local pubs.
- Learning about the land should be exciting for kids. So Natural Downs offers pretty much endless fun experiences like off-the-grid woodland camping or exploring quaint Kentish villages along the River Stour.
- Power Downs unleash the positive energy of enormous Kent Downs AONB, think of it like a 326 square mile wellness retreat then just relax into the mood.
- Want to spend a week or more in the area? Adventure Downs are the type of activity holidays that become family legends, for all the right reasons.
- Bio-diverse Kent Downs is home to some extraordinary plants and local habitats range from chalk grassland to pasture, pond and heathland. So it’s no surprise to find that wildlife thrives round here. In fact, several species are unique to the area. Keen to know more? Then Wild Downs is the theme to explore.
- Show Downs lets you in on the incredible mix of natural attractions and famous landmarks which are all at home in Kent Downs AONB.
- Ever wanted to walk in the footsteps of ancient wanderers? Track Downs lets you retrace the paths of everyone from fabled pilgrims to inspiring artists.
- Kent Downs AONB has always nurtured painters, writers, poets and dreamers. Take a look at Draw Downs and nurture your own creative spirit.
Kent Downs AONB made Play Downs just for kids
We started off by describing Kent Downs AONB as a vast and thrilling natural playground for families and, of course families are more than welcome to create their own adventures. However, we think you might like quite a few of the Play Downs’ experiences too – we know your kids will.
Become conservationists in Kent’s ancient woodlands
This immersive experience gives children the chance to learn traditional crafts, explore Kent’s ancient woodlands and join in practical conservation projects. It’s lots of fun and, as all parents know, hands-on activities are some of the best ways for kids to really understand the importance of protecting nature.
Plus, since you’ll have worked up quite an appetite, the day ends with a chance to sit down, enjoy the lovely setting and feast on local produce.
The whole experience is led by the friendly team at Medway Valley Countryside Partnership, and it’s ideal for kids aged 10 and over.
Get creative with Mosaic Mum on the Chevening Estate
With a fresh take on ancient art of mosaic making, Mosaic Mum encourages kids to get creative and design their own masterpiece to take home. As well as the reward of creating something truly unique, they’ll hear anecdotes about life on the Crown Estate and learn about upcycling materials like vintage ceramics.
Mosaic Mum is an experienced artist and teacher and this activity takes place in the old gamekeeper’s cottage on the historic Chevening Estate. And don’t rush away after class, because there’s a traditional cream tea to finish off your day perfectly.
Make your own greenwood spoon in the Elham Valley
Evocatively named Walderchain Wood is the setting where kids can create their own work of woodland art. From choosing a log to learning how to use woodworking tools and producing a beautiful greenwood spoon, it’s an incredibly rewarding experience that’s ideal for ages 13 and over.
Weather permitting, everything is done outdoors in a semi-covered clearing. And, as the woodworking is taught by Mark, who’s an experienced carpenter, eco-builder and green woodworker, parents can rest assured safety is top priority and all spoon makers are carefully supervised and taught the correct handling of tools.
Have a Mini Survival Adventure with your kids
Who doesn’t want to give their kids a little more confidence in the outdoors? We love the idea of the Mini Survival Adventure for that very reason. First off, building campfires, cooking out and making woodland shelters, sounds like great fun. However, this experience is also about developing skills, getting close to nature, experiencing the woods in a fresh way and learning team work. Plus, it’s not called Mini Survival Adventure for nothing. This is a real mission for young adventurers aged from five to 16 years, and the goal is to create a working survival camp.
Natural Pathways have been leading bush-craft courses in the Kentish woodland near Barham since 2002. As passionate about conservation as they are about sharing their knowledge, the team are also incredibly friendly and make this entire experience unforgettable for kids.
Make a clay masterpiece on a Kent peony farm
We don’t know what to like more about This Art of Mine, the fact that it’s held on a Peony Farm or that it’s all about playing with clay. Although we suspect kids will probably like the clay part best.
Ideal for ages seven and over, the pottery class teaches skills and techniques used in Kent pottery making for centuries. Older children might also like learning the local pottery terminology.
Of course it’s not all theory, because everyone has the chance to make their own clay platter, which will then be fired and ready to collect at a later date. Plus, after the class, you’re invited to tuck into some classic Kentish food and drink at one of This Art of Mine’s favourite local pubs.
Come and bike the North Downs Way Riders’ Route
Bring bikes and cycle the North Downs Way Riders’ Route which is beautiful, of course, but also much more than mere good looks. Whether you’re an e-bike family, still in training wheels or MTB experts, you’ll be riding through 1000s of years of history. You can try and resist stopping at every pretty village on-route, although it’s almost impossible. And the countryside is spectacular, so that’s another constant temptation to dismount and go exploring.
Meet some friendly experts on the Kent Downs AONB
Walking the North Downs Way with kids can be just as much fun and you don’t have to go it alone as there are dozens of North Downs Way ambassadors to guide you on fantastic hikes along the route. Whatever you’re interested in, from Kentish folklore to learning more about Canterbury, you’ll find at least one ambassador to take you walking.
Did you know the Kent Downs is also one of Britain’s most wooded areas? This is good news for families, because we don’t know any child who doesn’t love a ramble round a forest at any time of year.
Woodlands are wonderful, but the Kent Downs is nothing if not varied when it comes to landscape.
Explore Kent’s heritage coast ‘Best In Travel 2022’
Kent’s heritage coast runs from Dover to Folkstone and, along with the rest of the Kent Downs AONB and the Parc Naturel Regional des Caps et Marais d’Opale in France, is currently aspiring to become a Cross-Channel UNESCO Global Geopark. In fact, so remarkable is Kent’s heritage coast, that Lonely Planet named it Best In Travel 2022 and you only have to visit once to see why. Although, between its beaches and mighty chalk cliffs, charming seaside towns and legendary landmarks, we can tell you now, one visit will not be enough.
Be part of this very special place year round
Getting the idea that Kent Downs AONB is a very special place? You are not wrong. However, it’s also a place that’s warm, welcoming and loves to share. At the heart of everything here there’s a great sense of community and a strong commitment to sustainable tourism. What that means for families is a lot of fun, mixed with learning and authentic experiences. It’s also about getting to know local people, understanding the unique environment and encouraging kids to appreciate natural wonders, closer to home than they probably imagined.
Ready to try something new? Visit Kent Downs AONB to book experiences and find out more about Kent Downs AONB year round family adventures. Sign up to Kent Downs AONB mailing list and get all the latest news straight to your inbox.