Anybody who thinks Kent is flat might reconsider after this ride along National Route 18, which is not recommended for novice riders. For those who want to tackle the full run, which forms part of the well signposted National Route 18, there are dedicated cycle lanes, running alongside main roads at both Ashford and Tunbridge Wells.
There are a series of shorter rides that explore the Weald in more manageable chunks. The main traffic-free sections on route 18 are at Bedgebury Forest and Victoria Park Ashford, perfect for family cycling and ideal locations for novices and young children.
"It is by riding a bicycle that you learn the contours of a country best, since you have to sweat up the hills and coast down them. Thus you remember them as they actually are, while in a motor car only a high hill impresses you, and you have no such accurate remembrance of country you have driven through as you gain by riding a bicycle." Ernest Hemingway
Ash to Aylesham Loop
Ashford Circular via Bilsington
Ashford Loop via Orlestone
Ashford Sightseeing Circular
Ashford To Dungeness
Ashford to Tunbridge Wells
Anybody who thinks Kent is flat might reconsider after this ride, which is not recommended for novice riders. However there are a series of shorter rides that explore the Weald in more manageable chunks.
For those who want to tackle the full run, which forms part of the well signposted National Route 18, there are dedicated cycle lanes, running alongside main roads at both Tunbridge Wells and Ashford.
The main traffic-free sections on route 18 are at Bedgebury Forest, and, Victoria Park Ashford, perfect family cycling and ideal locations for novices and young children.
If you are interested in some more challenging mountain bike routes along the way, try the 12 mile circuit around Bewl Water at Lamberhurst. This offers lovely views across the lake, the largest inland water in the southeast.
The track is suitable for mountain bikes and hybrids in drier weather. It is open for cyclists from early May until the end of October.
Although generally level, Bewl has three significant hills and includes a short section along quiet country lanes. There is a large car park and bikes can be hired on site (see info box for contact details).
Places of interest on route include - Kent and East Sussex Railway where you can take a magical steam train journey to Northiam and Bodiam. Bicycles can be carried in the Guards Van however booking is recommended. Biddenden Vineyards, the oldest vineyard in Kent produce fine English wines, Kentish ciders and apple juices. Free admission to 22 acres of vines and free sampling of their produce makes it well worth a visit!
Bedgebury Forest in the High Weald of Kent has created a cyclist’s paradise amongst the trees thanks to funding from Sport England and The Forestry Commission. The forest has a ten-kilometre family cycling route and twelve kilometres of mountain bike trails. A new Visitor Centre features cycle hire, including cycles for disabled people, plus showers for bikes and their riders.
Athol Place to Whitstable Harbour Return
Aylesford to Leybourne Loop
Aylesford to Maidstone Loop
Bearsted Loop via Yalding
Bearsted to Yalding Loop
Beckenham to Ide Hill
Belvedere to Highbury via Canning Town
Bewl Water Circumference Loop
Bexley to Bexley via Darenth
Bexleyheath Gravesend Meopham Loop
Bexleyheath to Foot's Cray and Dartford Circuit
Bexleyheath Via Erith , Abby Wood. Loop
Biggin Hill to Otford to Sidcup
Birling and Back
Bluebell Hill Circular Route
Borough Green Bakers to Deli
Borstal Circular Via Kits Coty And Bluebell Hill
Brabourne Lees Circular
Brabourne to Kingsnorth Circular
Chislehust Circle Via Eynsford and Otford
Coast, Weald, Downs and Canterbury
Cobham in Kent Circular
Cuxton Loop via Vigo Hill
East Kent Coast
East Kent Loop (part 2 Of 2)
East Kent Loop Part 1 Of 2
Eastling to Herne Bay
Edenbridge Circular via Sevenoaks and Tonbridge
Erith to the dome
Erith to Meopham loop
Erith to Rochester
Eynsford Otford Farningham Loop
Eynsford To Clapton
Faversham Coastal and Canterbury Loop
Faversham to Broadstairs
Faversham to Rough Common
Fordwich to Grove Loop
Goudhurst Circular Route
Great Chart 10 Mile Time Trial
Hamstreet Circular via Rye and Hythe
Hamstreet to Knockolt
Headcorn Short Country Loop
Headcorn to Fittenden Circular
Hell Of The Ashdown 2012 - Provisional A
Hextable Kent via South Darenth and Horton Wood Circular
Higham to High Halstow Circular
Hiily Faversham/whitstable Loop
Hoo Peninsula Circular
Hoo St Werburgh to Allhallows Circular
Hoo to Oad Street Cafe Circular
Horton Kirby Circular
Horton Kirby Circular via Seal and Offham
Houghton Avenue, Hempstead to Five Bells Pub, East Brabourne
Isle Of Sheppey Circular Route
Kent Smash Up
Leybourne Lakes to Meopham and Vigo Village Loop
Lidsing to Rochester Castle Loop
Linton Loop via lanes to Claygate
Medway Estuary Route
Meopham 40 Mile Circular
Meopham Circular Via Cuxton, Aylesford, Wrotham
Meopham Station to Cliffe and Vigo Village Figure Eight
Mid-Week Practice in Swanley
Minster Loop via Ware
Minster to Elmstone and Sandwich Loop
Minster to Sheerness Loop
Minster to Sheerness Loop
National Cycle Network 15 NCN
New Ash Green & Meopham Loop
New Ash Green Downs Loop
Orpington Circular via Rochester
Paddock Wood Circular via Coxheath and Goudhurst
Paddock Wood Loop via Claygate
Paddock Wood to Tonbridge
Pembury to Sevenoaks Loop
Pending Route - 24-03-2011 19:06
Pett Valley Bottom
Platt to Edenbridge via Tonbridge and Sevenoaks Loop
Potten Street Ponder
Pratts Bottom Circular
Rainham to Sheppy Bridge by Coastal Roads
Rochester or Strood Station Circular
Rochester To Tunbridge Wells
Rose At Wickhambreaux to Margate
Sandhurst to Slichester Roman Town
Sandwich Faversham Sandwich
Sandwich to Hastings Via Romney Marsh
Sandwich in Kent to Rye in East Sussex
Fit, experienced cyclists could cover the entire route in a day, but with good rail links along the coast, it is easy to tackle in stages. Many of the traffic-free sections are generally within the capabilities of children – but don’t be overambitious.
For a rewarding and relatively gentle day out, we recommend the 9 mile section from Dover to Deal, which runs along a stunningly scenic coastal cliff path. Except for a long steep climb from the centre of Dover up to the Castle, it is downhill almost all the way.
To avoid the climb and Dover’s traffic, take the train to Martin Mill and cut 2 miles across land and join National Route 1 at St Margaret’s at Cliff and then enjoy the tremendous run down to Deal.
From here you could pop on the train back to Dover or continue a further 5 miles, again largely traffic-free cycling, on to Sandwich where the chalk downland gives way to sandy beaches and dunes. Again you could let the train take the strain for the journey back.
Alternatively from Dover, head 7 miles towards Folkestone on the ‘Chalk and Channel way’ for more rugged views from the famous White Cliffs. Be prepared for steep climbs as the route drops back to sea level (and some on-road cycling) at both Dover and Folkestone.
Mid way between Dover and Folkestone you can cut down to Samphire Hoe, a unique land mass jutting out into the English Channel created from the material dug during the building of the Channel Tunnel. It includes 2 miles of flat traffic-free cycling, exceptionally brilliant blue sea, plus of course beautiful wildlife and scenery.
Samphire Hoe can also be reached from the A20.
From Folkestone to Rye (32 miles) the route becomes much flatter. Leaving the centre of Folkestone and the beautiful Lower Leas Coastal Park (ideal for young families), the path follows the seawall and is almost totally traffic-free for 6 miles to the Royal Military Canal at Hythe.
From Hythe, National Route 2 moves a few miles inland taking quiet country lanes through the picturesque villages of Romney Marsh including Burmarsh and Old Romney. After passing the historic town of Lydd, it’s back onto a traffic-free cycle path most of the way into Rye, rejoining the road only at Camber with its stunning wide sandy beach and dunes.
For an alternative route between Hythe and Old Romney, take the A259 out of Hythe. After a couple of miles or so the road rejoins the coast and from here you can follow the seawall along the beachfront through Dymchurch and on to Littlestone-on-Sea. Head inland, passing New Romney, to join National Route 2 at Old Romney.
The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch miniature steam railway, which carries bicycles, stops at six stations between Dungeness and Hythe. It is also within comfortable reach of mainline stations at Folkestone and Rye.
Sevington to Ruckinge Loop
Sidcup Circular through Darenth Valley
Sidcup Fast Ruote
Sidcup to Farningham Loop
Sidcup to Green Street Green Loop
Sittingbourne Circular via Milstead
Sittingbourne Loop via Iwade and Newington
Sittingbourne to Broadstairs Coastal Route
Sittingbourne to Hollingbourne Circuit
Sittingbourne to Margate
Sittingbourne to Teynham
Sittingbourne to Wormshill Loop
South Foreland Lighthouse to North Foreland Lighthouse
St Mary's Island Round Trip
Streatham Common to Edenbridge Loop
Strood Circular via Cliffe
Strood to Grain Power Station
Strood to Gravesend Loop
Strood to Higham Circuit
Strood to Swanscombe Via Cobham Circular
Strood to Whitstable via Maidstone and Canterbury
Sunbridge to Badgers Mount Loop
Swanley To Greenhithe
Swanley to Otford Circular
Swanscombe to Gravesend Loop
Tenterden Sissinghurst Castle Circular
Thames Circular Via River Darent to Gravesend
The Heron Trail is a lovely 18 mile (29km) circular route on the Hoo Peninsula, bounded by two great rivers, the Thames to the North and the Medway to the South.
Dickens wrote four of his novels including Great Expectations and Tale of two Cities close by and the area was a popular smugglers haunt.
The trail provides a combination of rural and Maritime interests, medieval houses hiding behind later facades and spectacular views along the route.
Cliffe Fort built in 1800, as part of the defence system guarding the Thames is now home to roosting birds and a variety of plants. Cooling Castle, now privately owned, was built in 1381 and once stood close to the sea until the draining of the marshes stranded it some distance inland. Upnor Castle, built in 1559 is set on the banks of the River Medway and was constructed as a gun fort on the orders of Queen Elisabeth I to defend her war ships at anchor.
Recommended detours include the RSPB Northward Hill Reserve, home to around 150 pairs of grey herons, which give their name to the trail.
The Riverside Country Park close by on National Route 1 offers fantastic traffic free cycling for the whole family plus stunning panorama over coastal marsh, fresh water habitats and grasslands alongside the Medway estuary. The parks trails and paths have excellent surfaces which are particularly suitable for wheel chair users and the less able. The Saxon Shore Way stretches from Gravesend to Hastings, some 160 miles from start to finish and is easily accessible from the Heron Trail for diversion on foot.
The Three Pub Hop
The Whitstable Winder
Viking Coastal Trail Loop via Reculver and Ramsgate
Walmer Eastry and Kingsdown Circular
Welling to Battersea Loop
West Hythe to Appledore Railway Station
Westerham Circular via Knockholt and Tatsfield
Whitfield to Canterbury Circle
Whitstable Circular via Canterbury and Kennington
Wickhambreaux via Whitstable and Canterbury
Wrotham Circular via Vigo Village
Wrotham to Frittenden
Wye Down Circular
Wye to Bilsington via Kent Churches
Canterbury Circular via Herne Bay
Canterbury Circular via Stelling Minnis
Canterbury East Kent 70 Mile Loop
Canterbury to Brighton Via Ashford
Canterbury To Broadstairs
Canterbury To Camden
Canterbury to Dover Via Aylesham and Whitfield
Canterbury to Dover via Route 1
Canterbury to Folkestone Via Hythe
Canterbury to Great Stonar
Canterbury to Grove Ferry Loop
Canterbury to Sandwich and Back
Canterbury to Tonbridge via Tenterden
Canterbury to Wye Figure Eight
Canterbury Whitstable Chestfield Loop
Canterbury, Ashford, Maidstone To Lower Halstow
Canterbury Circular via Herne
Circular Canterbury to Deal and Walmer
Crab and Winkle Way
The Crab and Winkle Way is a terrific 7.5 mile (12km) mainly traffic-free route between Canterbury and Whitstable. Opened in 1999, it forms part of National Route 1 and takes its name from the railway line that once ran between the two towns until 1952. It’s mostly flat, running partly on the old railway path, but also on woodland and Forestry Commission tracks.
It’s a great family day out with plenty of interesting stop-offs along the way, from modern sculptures to medieval earthworks.
From Canterbury West station, head up to the university campus where you’ll pick up the start of the trail, about half of which is on the disused railway. Once in Whitstable, enjoy the oysters while taking in the stunning views across the bay, especially at sunset.
Incidentally, the Crab and Winkle Line was the World’s first passenger railway line when it opened in 1830. But the steam locomotive Invicta couldn’t cope with the gradients and was soon replaced with cables driven by a winding steam engine. But cyclists today shouldn’t experience any problems with the short climbs!
Gravesend Circular via Fairseat and Cooling
Gravesend to Allhallows Loops
Gravesend to Brands Hatch and Meopham Loop
Gravesend to Cobham Circular
Gravesend to Grain Via Cliffe and Allhallows-on-sea
Gravesend to Harvel and Southfleet Loop
Gravesend to Rochester Castle Loop
Gravesend to Sevenoaks Via Eynsford
Gravesend to Trosley Country Park Circular
Folkestone Lympne and Marsh Meander
Folkestone to Alsington Circuit
Folkestone to Elham Circular
Hythe Loop via Snave
Hythe to Dungeness
Dungeness To Appledore St
Dungeness To Appledore St Safe Route
Dungeness to Ebbsfleet
Dungeness to Whistable
Dungeness To Whitstable Circular
Etchinghill Circular via NCN 13,14 and 17
Hawkinge Circular via Elham and Denton
Hawkinge to Saltwood Loop
Romney Marsh Circular
The Viking Coastal Trail is a stunning 29 mile (46km) cycle route with substantial traffic free sections. Regional Route 15 is easy to follow with good signposts and is mostly flat apart from a few short sharp climbs along the way.
Weather, wind direction and tides play an important part in the cycling experience so it is well worth checking in advance. Cycling with the wind behind you on this route is a breeze, cycling into a strong headwind can become challenging.
The recent construction of Regional Cycle Route 12 between Tonbridge Castle and Penshurst Place provides an excellent, almost entirely traffic- free ride from the heart of Tonbridge alongside the River Medway, out into the countryside as far as the glorious buildings of Penshurst Place, some 5 miles to the west.
Cyclists can also access the National Cycle Network at Groombridge – National Cycle Route 21, The Forest Way and enjoy nine and a half miles of mostly traffic free cycling to East Grinstead along a disused railway line.
Wonderful scenery is close by and seasoned tourers can enjoy a roller- coaster ride through the High Weald of Kent, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty (AONB).
Tunbridge Wells to Bough Beech Reservoir Loop
Tunbridge Well to Edenbridge 50 at 50 Loop
Tunbridge Wells to Brighton via Forest Row
Tunbridge Wells to Hever Castle Loop
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