If you’re looking for the perfect excuse to get everyone out and about during the summer holidays, look no further than a fun family bike ride.
There’s no better way to enjoy Kent’s stunning scenery than on two wheels and, with these 10 free cycle paths, you’ll be breathing in that fresh country air in no time.
BEDGEBURY NATIONAL PINETUM AND FOREST, Goudhurst
This cycle path takes riders around the picturesque woodland setting of Bedgebury’s national park. The forest trail is best suited for those of an intermediate level with basic off-road skills, but there’s also a shorter 4km family trail suitable for younger riders. The main path is 9km and is surrounded by the park’s 2,000-acre forest of more than 12,000 specimen trees and a world-leading collection of conifers.
The park is free to enter on foot. If driving, visitors are charged per vehicle. Prices depend on the time of day and vary during peak times.
BETTESHANGER COUNTRY PARK, Deal
This former mining hub is now home to one of East Kent’s biggest cycling centres. The park’s 3km track is ideal for families with young children as it offers traffic-free roads and flat surfaces. For those who want to be a little more adventurous, there’s a 10km trail suitable for mountain bikes and can be used by riders of all different abilities. The park also offers great views of the surrounding woodland, grassland and marshland, as well as children’s activities such as outdoor play areas, archery and fossiling.
The park is free to enter on foot, however car parking charges do apply all year round.
CANTII WAY, Wye
Introduced in 2022, the new long-distance cycle trail from Cycle UK begins in Wye and takes riders out towards Canterbury. If you decide to continue on the 145-mile trail, you will pass through towns such as Whitstable, Broadstairs, Dover, Folkestone, Dungeness and Tenterden before finishing up back in Wye. It’s a combination of country lanes, coastal paths and byways and is probably best suited to more experienced cyclists, depending on which section you’re riding along. Our reporter gave the trail a go when it opened last year and described it as a “fantastic day”.
CRAB AND WINKLE WAY, Canterbury and Whitstable
Start your journey in the city and end up at one of the county’s most charming harbour towns with this scenic bike ride. The seven-mile route begins at Canterbury West train station and takes you down to the river, where you will then head towards Harbledown for a mostly traffic-free journey. There are many historic spots to take note of along the way, including the old railway line from the Winding Pond, the 13th century Church of St Cosmus and St Damian in Blean and the woodland scenery of Clowes Wood, before you reach Whitstable beach.
HERON TRAIL, Hoo Peninsular
One of the most fascinating cycling routes in the Medway area, the Heron Trail is a great chance to explore some of Kent’s wildlife. The name of the trail comes from the Northward Hill Reserve in the Hoo Peninsular, just outside of Rochester, which is home to the largest breeding ground for herons in the UK. More than 150 pairs of grey heron can be found nesting in the woodland’s treetops. The trail also takes you past the 19th century Cliff Fort, the historic Upnor Castle on the banks of River Medway and Cooling Castle, home to musician Jools Holland.
ISLE OF HARTY TRAIL, Leysdown
This circular trail is flat and is mostly off-road, so it’s a great choice for those with young riders and, at just over 12km, more experienced cyclists can probably polish it off in under an hour. As you travel to the Isle of Harty, you can visit the 900-year-old Harty Church, the Swale National Nature Reserve and the RSPB Raptor View Point, where you might even see birds of prey soaring over the marshes. There are also plenty of family attractions when you arrive back in Leysdown, including the seaside arcades, mini bowling and soft play.
NORTH DOWNS WAY, Dover
One of Kent’s largest cycle routes, the North Downs Way takes ambitious riders from Dover right through to the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. There has been work done in recent years to make the trail more accessible, but there are still challenging hills for those who want to tackle a trickier route. The historic path includes an incredible eight castles and three cathedrals, along with award-winning vineyards, country pubs and quaint villages. For those who aren’t quite up to the full 169 miles, the route can be broken up into smaller chunks for a more manageable ride.
PERRY WOODS TRAIL, Faversham
The Perry Woods route is a delightful journey through spring meadows, marigold fields, orchards and woodland. It’s a quiet path that is perfect for those who want to take things at a leisurely pace as you pass rolling countryside, remote farmland and tranquil villages. You’ll end up in the medieval market town of Faversham where you can find a number of Shepherd Neame pubs, historic streets and the Creek.
VIKING COASTAL TRAIL, Thanet
Explore the stunning beaches of Margate, Broadstairs and Ramsgate as you cycle along the Thanet coast. This trail, named because of its proximity to where Romans, Saints and Saxons are believed to have arrived, boasts striking scenery and historical landmarks. The full route features Minster Abbey in St Nicholas-at-Wade, Turner Contemporary in Margate and Reculver Church near Herne Bay, but you can break it up into smaller sections and visit just a few of the coastal towns if you prefer.
WEALDEN TRAIL, Ashford and Tunbridge Wells
Not one for the faint of heart, this up-and-down route features steep hills that aren’t recommended for novice riders. The full trail is just over 67km long, but there are smaller sections, such as the circuit around Bewl Water at Lamberhurst and the path through Bedgebiry National Pinetum. If you do tackle the entire route, you’ll pass pretty villages including Chilmington Green and Matfield, hop orchards, oast houses and woodlands.