Responsible tourism: White cliffs of Dover walking vacation in Kent, England
We organise walking vacations in the Kent Downs using local products, local people and local accommodation providers. This means that we can offer lunches for our walkers including locally baked bread, locally made pickles and chutneys and a variety of Kent produced cheeses. We know the source of the food we offer our walkers and they know that they will experience the true taste of Kent's local produce on each of our walks.
All of our accommodation providers are small independent inns, hotels or guest houses and are not part of large managed chains. Six years ago we applied for assessment under the Green Tourism Business Scheme and have been accredited as a Silver Award holder since. We are one of a few tour operators in the south east of England to gain this award which has played an important part in how we, as a locally based rural business operate sustainably within the local environment. . We have always promoted even on our earliest brochures 'discover Kent, its people and their history'. It is the everyday relationship between the local suppliers and producers that is at the heart of an area's local history.
The majority of our customers arrive in the County by public transport and then spend their vacation on foot. To this end we provide a briefing paper on how to access the County by public transport available on our web site, we also offer information about the history of sites of local interest along the trail a resource which is available to anybody regardless of whether they choose to take a vacation or not.
We aim to work closely with members of the local community in the Kent Downs AONB, the National Trails' Organisation and the Chilham Local Business and Retail Group. This group encourages tourism within the Chilham area based upon the collaborative network of local businesses within the village ensuring a exceptional experience for the visitor.
In 2011 we published a book, about the local history of the Pilgrims' Way - The Fact and Fiction of an Ancient Trackway. From the Neolithic through to the Victorian pilgrimages, this book has brought together the historical and archaeological evidence connected to the Pilgrims Way an important local tourist attraction running through the Kent Downs. Through this publication we have supported the Canterbury Arts Festival and the Explore Kent Walking Festival offering walks within the local community. We have supported a volunteer to train as a walks leader for the Walking for Health initiative and participate in the Kent Greeters workshop. Through working with the University of Kent each year presenting a talk to students on the Contemporary Issues in Tourism Module we have been able to highlight the way in which we operate as a small family run local business in conjunction with other businesses that are part of the local economy.
Best of all our dedication extends to meeting and greeting our walkers each day and through years of experience we know what they are looking for. We shall show them those less commercialised local attractions and in particular the local history that accompanies them Finally we have produced our own audio guides to offer a commentary on aspects of the local history associated with the area that are not always so accessible in mainstream guidebooks.
The landscape is the tool we use to give our visitors an experience to treasure as it did when trodden by pilgrims of the past. We combine walking with stories of the landscape, told through Kentís local food, architecture, the flora and fauna and history. There is so much which can be missed when traveling by road; the nature reserves, the ancient woodlands, the steep sided lanes the ancient tracks which tell many a story and the butterflies and chalk grassland flowers.
Upon leaving Canterbury you will follow close to the route of an old railway once regarded as one of the most attractive English branch lines. Close by is the Nailbourne an underground stream which rises when the aquifers have overflowed, they are often known as woe waters and meander their way through the normally dry valleys of the Kent Downs. Elham offers the visitor many an attraction; however the visitor will be wending their way through the valley bottom, following the well-trodden path on to the Saxon Shore Way. This walk with spectacular views along the top of the iconic White Cliffs of Dover is breathtaking with the orchids and harebells enhancing the dramatic setting of the Kent Downs.
As modern pilgrims we observe the countryside code so that our followers are able to enjoy this amazing countryside as much as we do. St Margaretís at Cliff will reveal a landscape used to protect our country during the WWII. Today it is a centre of interest in sustainable architecture with the Pines Calyx, a chalk rammed building, innovative in its concept and completely carbon zero. Discover the garden and museum when you are passing and take the chance to visit the house once owned by Noel Coward and In Flemming the author of the James Bond novels. All of these little nuggets of history we impart to our walkers as they discover the heritage of the Kent Downs
Reviews of White cliffs of Dover walking vacation in Kent, England
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I am reborn! Simply the best vacation I have ever been on
Some great stories to tell the grandchildren. Would recommend to a friend
It was OK
A bit disappointing really
Reviewed on 29 Jun 2016 by Rosemary Davies
1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?
Walking the Pilgrims Way had all the positives of walking in beautiful and historic scenery without any of the hassles, especially, since it was a guided walk the hassle of getting lost. What made it memorable was that throughout the journey there was so much information and insight. But also the unanswered questions thrown up about the path, the ones that stick in your mind and make the experience unforgettable.
2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?
Make sure you have good walking boots and waterproofs.
3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?
Yes I'm sure it does.
4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?
I would definitely recommend this and will be looking for similar in other parts of the country.