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Things to do in Kent this summer: camping, champing and glamping

By Angela Cole

Get away from it all and spend a night under the stars this summer without leaving Kent with these glamorous camping stop-offs – no roughing it required.

CHAMPING AT CANTERBURY

Making for a memorable experience, champing is camping overnight in a historic church.

It’s becoming popular with couples, families and people with a special interest and there
are two champing churches in Kent – St Mary’s in Fordwich, near Canterbury, and All Saints’ Church in West Stourmouth, between Canterbury and Margate.

Champing at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich
Champing at the Church of St Mary the Virgin, Fordwich

Organised by the Churches Conservation Trust, funds from champing holidays go towards the upkeep of the churches and the season runs until Friday, September 30.

The trust cares for churches that are Grade I or Grade II listed, or are Scheduled Ancient Monuments, which might otherwise have closed without the trust’s support, and aims to keep them open as part of their communities.

There’s also a mini champer promotion so that 15s and under can champ for free, between now and Sunday, September 4.

The trust has also linked up with the Whitstable Hamper Company and champers at Fordwich can look forward to breakfast fare from local producers – otherwise known as a “champer hamper”!

Champing at All Saints Church, West Stourmouth
Champing at All Saints Church, West Stourmouth

Founder of the hamper company, Nicci Place, said: “Kent is the Garden of England and we have a wide range of small producers making amazing food by hand, often using traditional methods. You can really taste the difference in the flavours of our fruit, granola, juices and preserves.”

Champing season runs until Friday, September 30, costing between £55 and £60 for adults, which includes breakfast in the morning.

For the free mini champer promotion, book to champ by Sunday, September 4.

For details visit visitchurches.org.uk

Other ideas for the summer holidays

KITS COTY GLAMPING

Spend an exotic night under the stars in luxurious and rural surroundings a stone’s throw from some very ancient history.

Kits Coty Glamping just off Blue Bell Hill has been up-and-running for about two years but has already picked up a Certificate of Excellence with TripAdvisor after numerous five- star reviews.

The site has a vintage-themed shepherd’s hut, Moroccan and Safari themed bell tents with a four-poster bed and a festival tent that sleeps six.

The Shepherd Hut "Pamela" at Kits Coty Glamping
The Shepherd Hut "Pamela" at Kits Coty Glamping

There’s also a shower block with underfloor heating and walk-in wet room showers.
“We are overwhelmed by the loyalty of our guests who have taken the time to feedback their thoughts on their glamping experience,” said Ami Culver.
“After all, without them none of this would be possible.”

Find Kits Coty Glamping at Collingwood Road, Kits Coty Estate, ME20 7ER, or visit kitscotyglamping.co.uk

CAMP WILDERNESS, PENSHURST PLACE

What better way to spend a summer holiday than enjoying warm nights under the stars?

Camp Wilderness in the picturesque parkland at Penshurst Place, near Tunbridge Wells, will keep kids busy with firelighting, shelter building, learning survival skills and, to top it off, fireside stories with toasting marshmallows.

Camp Wilderness at Penshurst Place
Camp Wilderness at Penshurst Place

Suitable for seven to 14-year-olds, there are two and three-day summer camps. The season runs until Wednesday, August 17.

Camp Wilderness at Penshurst PLace
Camp Wilderness at Penshurst PLace

For details and prices, and a section on questions for parents, visit campwilderness.co.uk

LEEDS CASTLE GLAMPING

There are knights standing guard over glampers at Leeds Castle, near Maidstone.
The award-winning site, which is in a quiet area beyond the maze on the 500-acre site, is the height of luxury in camping terms.

Leeds Castle glamping
Leeds Castle glamping

Each tent has a four-poster bed and a wood-burning stove, plus chairs to sit out and survey the landscaped grounds with a drink. There are snug furry throws and, for lazy, late summer evenings, there’s a barbecuing area with a cast iron griddle and seating. There are also shower facilities, and access to a kitchen.

Glampers also get to see the other attractions on the site, so you can meander around the maze, watch a falconry display or explore the parkland and gardens as part of your stay.

Leeds Castle is near Maidstone, postcode ME17 1PL. For costs and availability, visit leeds-castle.com For glamping call 01622 767823 or email hospitality@leeds-castle.co.uk
The site also has a B&B and holiday cottages.

PORT LYMPNE RESERVE CAMPING PODS

Spend a wild night feeling like you’re on safari at Port Lympne Reserve, as you sleep (almost) among the animals.

Within a whisker of wolves and tigers the site, near Hythe, has a stylish shepherd’s hut and camping pods to feel like you’re really at one with nature.

Luxurious family glamping is also on offer at Bear Lodge on the reserve from one to four nights.

Find Port Lympne Reserve just off Junction 11 of the M20, postcode CT21 4LR. For more details visit aspinallfoundation.org

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