With many rivers and lakes in the UK exploring them safely whilst having fun is key. The excellent Canoe Wild in Grove Ferry Kent is a must if you are in the area. You can explore the River Stour using one of their canoes, SUPs or kayaks. Running from Grove Ferry and Fordwich or you could even take a trip down river to Plucks Gutter. They also do a raft building session at the Fordwich site so if there is a group of you this would be great fun activity.
They also have collaborated with ‘Euro cycle Adventures’ and ‘Cols Kent Bike Tours’ for a ‘Pedal and Paddle’ adventure break and day trips.
The River Stour
The second longest river in Kent originates as the Great Stour in Lenham and flows towards and through Canterbury where it becomes tidal and then finally enters the sea at Pegwell Bay.
The river drains many of the marshland areas with Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve being one. Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve hosts the largest reed bed in the Southeast making it an ideal place to bird watch. So, if you love nature your sure to be happy here.
The Castle Gardens had a renovation completed in September 2010 when extensive work was undertaken on the grounds to achieve a stunning tranquil setting. The gardens have won numerous Green Flag awards with the latest in 2020 and I’m sure they will be awarded another one soon.
The Orangery Tearoom is open daily from 10 am until 5 pm with a great selection of food and drinks. They also offer afternoon tea, but you will need to book at least 24 hours before you visit.
There is a lovely pirate ship play area and the paths in the gardens are easy for pushchairs and wheelchairs to use. A great place to visit all year around with the scenery constantly changing as the plants and trees change with the seasons. The castle gardens and play area is open 8am until 6pm daily, there is a car park but note the gate is locked at 6pm.
They have a calendar packed with events on all year round, some highlights coming up in August include nature detective week and mummy mania. The castle can be hired for weddings, business events and more.
We have been to Mercedes Benz World located in Surrey a few times over the years it’s free and there is no need to book, unless you want a guaranteed driving experience. You can pre-book a driving experience or take a chance on the day and see if they’ve got anything available, but be aware things do get booked up quickly.
Based at the Brooklands Race Circuit Mercedes Benz World has Displays of F1 cars, classic cars and modern cars. They showcase the history of Brooklands Race Circuit and house an AMG performance centre. And if you want to get more involved you can try out the race simulator which accommodates many ages or as mentioned previously take on one of the experiences they offer (these will incur a cost).
There is a cafe with a great selection of cakes and sandwiches or alternatively you could visit the bistro where you can sit and have a meal with views of the race circuit.
No matter your budget it’s a great place to visit, as if you want you don’t have to spend a penny and can have a fabulous time.
We visited this time as we had an event not too far away and decided to use the Brooklands Hotel as a base. I often use Booking.com as I find them excellent for finding local places to stay wherever you are looking to visit or if preferred you can book directly with The Brooklands Hotel.
I was lucky to be invited to take the Kent Wildlife Dusk Wilder Kent Safari Tour to learn about the beavers re-introduction project.
Based at Ham Fen near Deal in Kent the beaver project is a hidden gem. Not open to the public you will need to book one of their experiences to enjoy and learn about the amazing work they do at the fen. I can’t tell you how many times I have driven past and known nothing about the work they have done. And I’m not going to spoil it by telling you everything so you can all go and enjoy one of their experiences too.
The project started in 2001 and has grown from 100 acres to 130 acres of beautiful wild land inhabiting not just the beavers but, birds, insects, cattle and water buffaloes.
I had a fantastic evening and although I hoped we would see a beaver I know these are wild animals and we are not guaranteed to see any. I saw so many other animals and learnt so much about something that is right on my door step.
We got our first family dog a beautiful Siberian Husky we named Kojak in November 2020. I knew that he would change our lives and the way we travel and explore. We have been away without him and been lucky enough to have had excellent care for him whilst we were away. But we would like Kojak to also come away and enjoy travelling with us.
One thing that we consider when looking to go away is – will we spend lots of time with Kojak?
Our first trip abroad with Kojak and we have took him out every day finding dog friendly places to visit and eat. This time in France we have not left him at all, however we would leave him if we wanted to eat out at a restaurant, go food shopping or for a couple of hours max to do an activity he could not do. My rule would be at least one night before we would leave him somewhere new on his own – this is to make him know he is safe, secure and knows we will come back in a strange place.
I was worried as this was the first time abroad with a dog but I need not have worried the Le Shuttle was great and had excellent processes in place. The time in the train was quick and Kojak wasn’t fazed one bit.
There will be times that Kojak will not come away with us but knowing it’s an option is great as he is a wonderful part of our family.
My travel checklist for Kojak:
Check vaccinations are all up to date
Animal Health Certificate
Return journey – appointment at the vets for tapeworm treatment administered 1-5 days before travel back to the UK. Treatment must be administered by a vet not less than 24 hours (1 day) and no more than 120 hours (5 days) before the dog’s scheduled arrival time in the UK. Treatment date and time must be recorded by the vet in the pet’s documentation.
Food – what can we take and what we can’t
Teddies and Toys
Check the rules around dogs for the European country you are travelling in.
Kojak’s Travel Bag
Kojak has a travel bag that we can pick up at any moment and go with him, with many hotels dog friendly they can enjoy a mini break too.
Puppy Pads – these are excellent if your dog becomes unwell or if you want to use as a door mat for muddy paws.
Collapsible Drinking Bowl
Bottle of water
Please note this is my travel list for a dog travelling into Europe using Le Shuttle and you will need to ensure that you have fully checked what is required for your pet to travel.
Animal Health Certificates (AHC) replaced Pet Passports and to be honest they are a pain and you have to get one each time you travel. I advise you speak with your vet to find out if they do them or if you need to get one from another vet. My vet does not do the AHC but provided me with somewhere that could Animal Health Certificates Online I filled in the form paid and then took Kojak to collect it on the agreed date.
The certificate can be used to enter the EU & NI for up to 10 days from the date of issue.
Once inside the EU a pet can travel within the boundaries of the territory for up to four months.
Once the pet exits the EU a new Animal Health Certificate is required to re-enter the EU as the AHC is single use.
As we hit April 1st the trail is now open later into the evening (9am – 7pm) so you have even more time to get outside and explore this wonderful trail where you will find 6 wonderful waterfalls.
The trail is 7km (4.3 miles) and should take between 2 and 4 hours to complete depending on your pace and if you take a picnic break. Please note the trail is currently running a one way system and remember to respect social distancing, there are some narrow parts of the trail and everyone would like to enjoy the views.
Unfortunately the path is not suitable for wheelchairs and pushchairs due to the close proximity to rivers and large number of steps.
There is a cafe and toilets at the car park entrance but then not a lot for a long way so I would take plenty of food and drink. We did come across a ice cream van after the mid point snack shop (unfortunately had not been open). Please remember to take your rubbish home with you; respect, protect and enjoy.
There is parking included in the entry price, parking does get busy but some people will come and go during the day however some will spend the day there. All payments are required to be completed by card.
Sitting on the Kent coastline are the iconic Reculver Towers, the towers were a part of the remodelling of the church in the 12th century. Reculver was one of the earliest Roman Forts built to defend Saxon raids. Later becoming a Anglo Saxon monastery and then the parish church for Reculver.
The site can be viewed from the outside all year and has wonderful coastal walks both ways from the towers. One from Reculver to Birchington along the sea wall and the opposite direction will take you to Herne Bay.
There is a chargeable car park, this does get busy especially at weekends and holidays.
Located by the car park is Hat Hats Coffee shop, they have a variety of drinks, ice creams, cakes and more which is all very delicious.
It was so lovely to hear the birds singing a morning chorus, the squirrels exploring and numerous pheasants foraging amongst the emerging spring flowers.
Already a beautiful display of colour is on display at the gardens and the gardens have been very well thought out for all times of the year. I loved the bright colours of the cornus stems against the background of the gardens and the blankets of daffodils and crocuses that covered sections of the grass areas.
A few sections of the gardens were closed off for maintenance but that’s to be expected at this time of year. I will definitely be heading back again later in the year to see the roses in bloom and take in the all summer offerings in the gardens.
With a coffee shop and restaurant on site you can enjoy a lovely meal or something a little lighter during your visit, I enjoyed a light lunch at The Gallery Café.
There is lots of parking but I can imagine this gets busy, parking prices are above average for visit gardens (£12 for 3+ hours and payment by card only) and is not included in the entry price. There are also several walking routes from the car park including to the Cow Pond which was was renovated in 2012 to commemorate H.M. The Queen’s Diamond Jubilee.