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Best riverside pub walks in Kent along the River Stour, Medway and Royal Military Canal

There's nothing quite like sipping on a cold pint as a river flows gently by.

While the sun has beaten down on the county during the lockdown, pubs have remained firmly closed - leaving many dreaming of beer gardens, pitchers of Pimm's and raising a glass with friends.

We've rounded up some of Kent's best riverside pub walks
We've rounded up some of Kent's best riverside pub walks

But following months of closure, Boris Johnson is expected to announced later today that pubs will be able to reopen as soon as next Saturday.

In anticipation, we've rounded up some of the county's best riverside pub walks - offering scenic views, fresh air and the chance to enjoy a cold drink by the water.

Canterbury

Take in five different pubs on this walk along the River Stour, around Upstreet, Fordwich and Westbere.

In a city that abounds with pubs, drinkers in Canterbury are spoilt for choice.

But if the weather's fine, look no further than this route - which takes in no fewer than five drinking spots along the River Stour, beginning with The Grove Ferry Inn at Upstreet.

The walk begins at the Grove Ferry Inn in Upstreet
The walk begins at the Grove Ferry Inn in Upstreet

Nestled right on the river's bank, the ivy-clad pub provides the perfect spot from which to watch boats and wildlife.

Once you've enjoyed a stop-off there, head off through Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve.

Covering a square mile, the reserve has reed beds, fens, ditches, wet grassland and open water, providing an ideal habitat for wildlife and rare plants. The site is especially important for bittern, marsh harriers and water voles, so keep an eye out as you meander through.

Amble along the footpaths leading to Feast's Hide and Marsh Hide. This will lead you to the other side of the reserve, where you can stop off at The Red Lion in Stodmarsh.

The next section of the walk - leading along Stodmarsh Lane - is the longest.

Stodmarsh Nature Reserve
Stodmarsh Nature Reserve

After about two-and-a-half miles, turn right onto Well Lane which will lead you onto the High Street at Fordwich. The ancient, picturesque town also happens to be the smallest in Britain, with a population of only 381 at the last census.

First, stop off at The Fordwich Arms - a Michelin-starred pub and restaurant with a homey feel, complete with a garden and sheltered seating area directly overlooking the Stour.

After you've soaked up the surroundings, and perhaps sampled some of the pub's delectable food, it's just a one-minute walk to The George and Dragon.

With another excellent riverside beer garden and an extensive menu, it provides another great option for lunch.

Once sufficiently rested, it's a 40-minute stroll along the Stour to reach the fifth and final pub - The Yew Tree, at Westbere.

The Fordwich Arms - a Michelin-starred pub and restaurant in the country's smallest town
The Fordwich Arms - a Michelin-starred pub and restaurant in the country's smallest town

Walk west on King Street, turning right onto a footpath just before Brooklands Close. The path forms part for the 60-mile Stour Valley Walk, and hugs the river, so be sure to keep an eye out for water birds such as kingfishers and herons along the way.

After about a mile-and-a-half, turn onto Walnut Tree Lane, which leads to Westbere Lane and, finally, the Yew Tree.

Dating back to 1348 and said to be haunted by two ghosts, the historic pub claims to be the oldest in Kent.

Maidstone

This walk takes in three great pubs as it hugs the River Medway, passing through beautiful Kentish hopping countryside.

The Woolpack Inn, Benover. Picture: Google Street View
The Woolpack Inn, Benover. Picture: Google Street View

Start the walk at the Woolpack Inn in Benover.

The classic country pub, run by Shepherd Neame, offers fresh food and is a popular stop-off for trail walkers in search of refreshment.

Two crackling fires, exposed beams and low ceilings make it a cosy spot in the winter, while its beer garden and outdoor play area are perfect in summer.

From there, turn right and head along Benover Road. Turn left at the first junction to join a footpath on your right, and follow this to a quiet road.

Turn right, head past some big houses and turn right on a footpath just past a stream. Follow the stream, keeping it on your right.

The Boathouse, Yalding
The Boathouse, Yalding

Eventually, a bridge will take you across a lock waterfall. Continue following the stream, which will now be to your left.

The pretty route then takes you to a farm, through a cherry orchard, across a main road and through a field. Across the field you will see a bridge over the canal, and your second pub - the Boathouse.

Sitting right on the River Medway, this pub - also belonging to Shepherd Neame - offers stunning riverside views.

Formerly called The Anchor, it underwent a major £1.3m refurbishment two years ago.

It now has a modern, waterside restaurant and al fresco dining area, and dogs are welcome in the bar, and outside. The Boathouse is known for its delicious hand-stretched stone-baked pizzas, so could be a great place to stop for lunch. If it's a Sunday roast you're after, be sure to book ahead.

When you're ready, cross back over the footbridge and join a footpath that follows the canal, turning right, with the canal on your right.

Eventually, the path will lead away from the river, taking you across several fields to your third pub - The Chequers Inn.

The 15th-century building, in Laddingford, is in the heart of the Kentish hopping countryside.

Describing itself as "a true family village pub", it is listed in the CAMRA Good Pub Guide and was one of the first pubs in the south to be awarded the Cask Marque Award for serving quality real ale.

The Chequers Inn at Laddingford. Picture: Google Street View
The Chequers Inn at Laddingford. Picture: Google Street View

If you're keen for a bite, The Chequers serves home-made pies, Sunday roasts and has a children's menu.

Once you're done, turn right down the road and past the local school. You'll reach a left-hand footpath, which will take you back to the Woolpack Inn - where you can enjoy another well-deserved drink.

Ashford

If it's a straightforward stroll beside water you're after, look no further than this walk by the Royal Military Canal at Appledore.

Start off at The Black Lion pub in Appledore.

The Black Lion at Appledore
The Black Lion at Appledore

The free house offers a good selection of real ales and wine and has a menu specialising in freshly caught fish and local lamb.

Once fully replenished, start by walking south through the village and past the church, dropping down to the canal.

This straightforward route - which simply follows the grassy track on the banks of the Military Canal - needs little direction.

The Royal Military Canal, which runs for 28 miles between Folkestone and Hastings, was constructed in the early 1800s as a defence against the possible invasion of England during the Napoleonic Wars.

You can either walk along the canal before heading back the way you came, or turn it into a circular walk by turning left when the path reaches Higham Farm, before joining the Saxon Shore Way and following it back to Appledore.

This walk takes in the Royal Military Canal
This walk takes in the Royal Military Canal

The latter route provides excellent views across Appledore, Romney Marsh and Dungeness Power Station in the distance, as you head downhill.

Eventually you'll reach a kissing gate, cross a small bridge and go through a recreation ground before finding yourself back where you started - in good time for a final tipple, or a spot of lunch.

Medway - Rochester

Take in views of Rochester Castle, Upnor Castle and Chatham Dockyard, on this walk along the impressive River Medway.

This walk begins in Strood at The Riverside Tavern - sitting, as its name suggests, right on the banks of the River Medway.

Take in the 16th-century Upnor Castle on this walk along the River Medway
Take in the 16th-century Upnor Castle on this walk along the River Medway

Covering 70 miles, the Medway is the second largest river in the south, rising in the High Weald, Sussex, and emptying into the Thames Estuary at Sheerness.

The Riverside is the perfect spot from which to take in its magnitude, with great views over the river, as well as Rochester and its castle.

From here, continue following the river away from Rochester, following a footpath sign that will head through a new estate, before bearing right along a footpath that forms part of the Saxon Shore Way.

The path crosses several roads and eventually bears right at a bend in the road, before crossing industrial land and the A289, and returning to the riverbank.

At Upper Upnor, you can stop off for a pint at The Tudor Rose and The Kings Arms - two great pubs by the river that sit a stone's throw from one another on the High Street.

The Tudor Rose pub in Upnor
The Tudor Rose pub in Upnor

The route will then lead you up to Upnor Castle.

The spectacular 16th-century castle was built to protect warships moored at Chatham dockyards, but sadly failed to do so.

In 1667, the Dutch sailed right past it, to burn and capture the English fleet at anchor.

Once you've taken in the sights, head along Upnor's quaint high street before joining a footpath to the right of the main road, which will lead you to Lower Upnor.

Upon reaching the village, you'll be welcomed by more spectacular views of the River Medway.

Look out over the river from The Pier at Upnor
Look out over the river from The Pier at Upnor

Follow Upnor Road a little further along the river, and you'll be met with a choice of pubs - The Ship Tavern and, just a few doors down, The Pier.

The former offers a great menu of homemade food so makes a great option for lunch, while the latter boasts a garden facing directly over the river and describes itself as "the perfect pub to sit and relax with friends for a drink, overlooking the River Medway".

Once you've soaked up the view, head back the way you came.

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