Kent Downs and coast walking vacation, UK

“A short break walking in the Kent Downs – think iconic white cliffs, peaceful villages, lovely pubs for lunch and lungfuls of fresh air.”


Easy self guided walking | two full day walks and one half day | maps, routes and commentaries | St Margaret’s-at-Cliffe | Vale of Elham | coastal cliff walking | White Cliffs of Dover

Description of Kent Downs and coast walking vacation, UK

This Kent Downs and coast walking vacation is a short break which includes the White Cliffs of Dover. The walks combine unspoilt rolling green hills, ancient villages and breathtaking coastal landscapes, with considerable historical and literary interest. Flexible routes allow time for visiting the many places of interest in the area and, in the summer months, for swimming on the nearby beaches.

Combining fresh air with exercise, wonderful scenery and an insight into this area’s history and culture, we think this carefully crafted walking vacation will leave you refreshed, relaxed and restored.

Enjoy expertly crafted self guided walks in some of Kent’s most beautiful downland, following routes thoroughly researched by the founders of the company, and tested by numerous walkers. We include a marked-up Ordnance Survey map, printed commentaries highlighting features of special interest for an insight into the area’s history, culture and environment.

As this is a self guided walking vacation, you can go at your own pace, spending as long as you like over lunch, and stopping off at interesting places on the way. The routes are suitable for anyone of average fitness, able to walk between four and nine miles for between two and four hours with a break for lunch. The walks are organised in two loops so that you have the choice of walking only in the morning or afternoon or all day. You’ll stay in a stylish and comfortable hotel, and enjoy excellent food with good country pubs for lunch.

Day-by-day itinerary

Day 1:Arrival, a read of your walking notes followed by dinner in the hotel’s acclaimed and award-winning Bay Restaurant.
Day 2:The Vale of Elham awaits you, one of the loveliest of vales, set in the unspoilt East Kent hills, an area of outstanding beauty with sweeping downland slopes and extensive views. Here we have centred our two loop walks around the delightful downland village of Elham itself, lined with wonderful old timber-framed buildings; this enables you to lunch at a remarkable 15th C Inn, once the HQ of the Duke of Wellington and a refuge for King Charles II. The first 4-mile loop takes you to the east of the village through a landscape that is shallow, green and gentle, the Nailbourne stream intermittently flowing through it. Then, after an excellent lunch you can if you wish continue walking to explore the western side of the valley with its coombes, ancient hamlets and farmsteads and little valleys moulded from the downs themselves. Finish with a walk around the village itself, perhaps visiting the church or enjoying a cream tea at the teashop. (8 miles; Easy)
Day 3:The White Cliffs of Dover, gateway to England, an iconic image maybe, but did you know that this heritage coastline has some of the best coastal cliff walking imaginable? In summer you can see clouds of butterflies dancing over a multi-coloured carpet of flowers while skylarks sing overhead and Exmoor ponies graze freely. You’ll see the distant port of Dover and a seascape dotted with ferries, cargo ships, fishing boats, pleasure craft and, on the horizon, you can even see France, only 21 miles away! Visit the lighthouse for more spectacular views, perhaps stop at the Bluebird Cafe for refreshment. And there’s more to come: the beautiful Pines Garden complete with lakes and waterfalls, a fascinating little museum and poignant Dover Patrol Memorial. An ancient church, the homes of Noel Coward and Ian Fleming - all packed into this one wonderful day out. These walks are also arranged as two loops, both starting from St Margaret’s, providing an option if required to walk just one loop. (9 miles; easy)

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Departure information

This trip can be tailor made throughout the year to suit your requirements

Responsible tourism

Responsible tourism: Kent Downs and coast walking vacation, UK


Walking is the least carbon intensive way to travel and ensures that the environmental impact of our walking clients is kept to a minimum. Where it is necessary to travel by means other than on foot, we encourage the use of public transport; if that is unavailable we recommend local transport companies to reach the start of the walk. We aim to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local rural economy. We accommodate our walkers in a small hotel which is family run and central to the life of the village. They employ local people and prepare meals from locally grown produce as far as possible.

In our small home office we recycle paper, cardboard, ink cartridges and printed material. We purchase recycled printer cartridges, paper, envelopes, labels, pens, toilet tissue, bin liners. We turn off printers, photocopiers, computers, battery chargers and transformers at the end of each day and avoid ‘screen savers’, use energy-efficient bulbs and low-energy appliances. We cut CO2 emissions by keeping thermostats at the lowest comfortable setting. We do not use tumble dryers nor take disposable plastic bottles to the countryside, instead promoting the use of water bottles manufactured by companies like Sigg.

We keep our customers informed electronically via email, electronic newsletters and our website. We encourage clients to remit their payments electronically via PayPal or by bank transfer.


We endeavour to balance the environmental impact of traveling with the benefits that sustainable tourism brings to the local economy. In choosing to lunch at local restaurants we are patronising establishments which employ staff from the local rural community.

We choose the best walks available and one does not start directly from the hotel. Therefore provision has to be made to transport people to and from the start of the walks. To achieve this we employ local minibus and taxi companies. Over the years we bring repeat business to them.

Bringing people to a new region, arranging their accommodation and food, transporting them from place to place, walking the ancient footpaths, visiting their pubs and teaching through carefully-researched commentaries something about the area’s rich history, culture and folk law, has the effect of giving people a sense of community with the place. People often return on their own or with friends, visit the same pubs and renew their sense of being at one with the beautiful local countryside.


This carefully-researched and crafted walking vacation in a special landscape of the UK, promotes appreciation, respect and enjoyment of the countryside through informative commentaries. These commentaries relate to history, rural life and traditions, flora and fauna, geology and literature.

We walk in an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. We describe the views to be seen from the high points and our walkers always enjoy seeing the distant route they took earlier in the walk. We always explain something of the history of the area we are visiting and introduce into the walks topics of a literary nature such as poems, references to writers associated with an area and examples of the soothing power of nature.

We share knowledge about features of architectural interest and geological interest. For example, we may explain about the chalk downland turf or archeological features such as barrows and earthworks and explain how the land we see today has been shaped by the past. Or we may explain about a national trail, its history and its significance today. We include references to the economic importance of, for example, chalk, hardwood, coppices.

2 Reviews of Kent Downs and coast walking vacation, UK

4 out of 5 stars

Reviewed on 21 Feb 2017 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The coastal path (Dover - Sandwich in our package) offers spectacular views of sea and countryside, whatever the weather, and serves up little gems of both recent and ancient history along the way.

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Ensure that you will have enough time to take in all the scenery and explore the historical sites. There are many very good local shops, cafes, restaurants (eg Whits of Walmer, the Cliffe) and pubs as well. Our tour operator organised our package perfectly. Lenox House B&B was very welcoming, comfortable, and friendly and is excellently located to explore the area.

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Choosing a local B&B, local shops, bakeries, and restaurants certainly benefitted the local economy. Keeping to designated walking paths, respecting nature when walking, and staying local to reduce mileage driven contributed something, we hope, to minimising environmental impact.

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

We were very happy with our walking vacation. Even with the rain, the countryside and coastline remained beautiful. The walks were well-measured, in terms of distances, point of interest, and types of countryside to be seen. The country paths were well tended and well marked. The walking guides provided were up to date, so recourse to the maps wasn't really necessary - except out of habit and curiosity. All the other aspects of the package (incl. accommodation, taxi transfer) were excellent as well. We will certainly recommend Responsible Travel and our tour operator to friends who are thinking of similar vacation breaks.

Read the operator's response here:

Thank you so much for your review David. We are delighted to know that you and your family had such a good time on the Kent Coast and thank you for your recommendations. It was a pleasure working with you and we send you and your family our best wishes.

Reviewed on 02 Oct 2016 by

1. What was the most memorable or exciting part of your vacation?

The Cotswolds are beautiful!

2. What tips would you give other travelers booking this vacation?

Read the map carefully, bring a compass

3. Did you feel that your vacation benefited local people, reduced environmental impacts or supported conservation?

Yes, restaurants, local brews (i.e. beer) are tasty

4. Finally, how would you rate your vacation overall?

Very good vacation, hope to return and do more.

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