Sharing and Caring on the North Downs Way

Today I spent walking on the North Downs Way with a group of fellow ambassadors training and sharing knowledge.

It was such a lovely day with everyone really supporting each other in every way. So watch out as we are going to share with you some of the amazing hidden gems of the North Downs Way.

You can explore the North Downs Way yourself with many self guided walks available from Explore Kent or the National Trails website. If you’re looking for an ambassador guided walk I will share them as they become available across the whole North Downs Way network.

Pumpkin Picking

It has become an autumn hit to go pumpkin picking there are several places that offer pumpkin picking in Kent including:

Felderland Farm PYO Sandwich, Deal – October picking dates: 9th, 10th, 15th and 31st.

They have been growing thousands of pumpkins and squashes in lots of shapes and sizes, so there’s a perfect pumpkin for everyone. There will be hot catering, a straw bale fun zone and a family photo station.

Entry to the patch will be by pre-booked ticket only, these can be bought online and are scanned on entry, tickets costs are: £2 for all visitors over 12, £1 for 3-12 abd Under 3s free.

For more information and BOOKING please use this link Felderland Farm PYO Pumpkin 2021

Riverside Farmers PYO Hoo, Rochester

Booking has now opened for the weekends of 9th-10th, 16th-17th, and 23rd-24th of October.

Ticket prices for a vehicle entry start at £7 which allows entry to the carpark, the pumpkin field and use of facilities.

Pumpkin prices will range between £1-£6 per pumpkin / squash or corn

Tickets for half term week from 25th-30th October will be release in October when the weather and COVID position becomes clearer.

No Dogs allowed, cash debit and credits card payments accepted.

For more information and BOOKING please use this link Riverside Farmer PYO Pumpkin 2021

Pumpkin Moon PYO three sites in Maidstone, Bapchild and Rainham

This year with over one hundred varieties of pumpkin, squash, and gourd you will be sure to find your perfect autumn décor or delicious autumn recipe.

All sites have parking and delicious food and beverage stalls.  

For more information and BOOKING please use this link Pumpkin Moon PYO Pumpkin 2021

Ticket prices are £1.50 – £2 and children under 2 are free. You must bring your entry ticket or show it on your phone.

Chiltern Manor Farm PYO Sittingbourne

This family run farm shop and pick your own site is a home gown Kent gem. Pumpkins are available for pick you own open every day from from Saturday 23rd October with no need to book.

Check out their website for the latest information.

Four winds Farm – Country Pumpkins PYO – Tunbridge Wells

With a variety of pumpkin sizes and colours a scarecrow trail, tea, cake and facev painting on offer you will be sure to have a great time this autumn. Open from Sunday 24th October – Sunday 31st Oct 10am – 4pm. Entry will be by TICKET ONLY.

Tickets must be purchased in advance and are £1 (+ 75p booking fee) per Vehicle.

Each ticket admits one vehicle and its occupants all pumpkins to be purchased in addition to the entry ticket.

Pumpkins will be sold on the day with the price depending on size, ranging from £2-£10.

For more information and BOOKING please use this link Country Pumpkins PYO

Hewitt’s Farm PYO – Orpington, Kent

A variety of pumpkins and squashes await you at Hewitt’s Farm pick your own and will be available from the 1st October.

There is no need to book, no entry fee, just turn up. With a large free hard standing car park with cash & card both accepted.

Pay for what you pick prices, Pumpkins are 88p per kg and Squashes range from 88p-£1.76per kg.

Embrace the Autumn Fun

Each location has individual booking policies so please check out your local site to avoid disappointment.

Also please be aware pumpkin fields are that a field, they can become muddy and wet. Take welly boots and a raincoat encase it rains, maybe even some spare clothes. The autumn weather can be all part of the fun if you are prepared and embrace it.

Pick your own is not just for pumpkins you can get apples, pears, plumbs, sweetcorn and much more depending on the time of year so please support your local producers and pick or buy form them where you can.

If you know of any other sites offering PYO Pumpkins in Kent please leave them in the comments below.

Moving into Autumn

As the sun sets on today tomorrow will bring the start of autumn. 🍂🍁🥮

Interesting fact: The astronomical calendar determines the seasons due to the 23.5 degrees of tilt of the Earth’s rotational axis in relation to its orbit around the Sun. Against that of the meteorological seasons that consist of splitting the seasons into four periods made up of three months each. By the meteorological calendar, the first day of autumn is always 1 September; ending on 30 November. The astronomical autumn calendar starts Wednesday, the 22nd September and ends Tuesday, the 21st December. 🥮🍂🍁

Kent’s Ancient Dunes

The stunning Sandwich & Pegwell Bay National Nature Reserve is home to Kent’s only ancient dune pasture and home to many rare plants and animals. The New All England Coast Path Runs through and around the nature reserve and it’s stunning.

Remember to always respect, protect and enjoy so that we keep these amazing places in tip top condition.

Ribble Valley Views

Views across the stunning Ribble Valley from Clitheroe Castle.

The castle was built by Robert de Lacy in the 12th century and the Norman keep is understood to be the second smallest in England.

Experience Kent

I am so excited to share some fantastic news that I am not only going to be offering experiences in Kent but that I am training to be a North Downs Way Ambassador.

The North Downs Way is 153 miles and one of the lesser know trails against those of its National Trail counterparts. It’s a true gem of the Kent and Surrey Areas and I’m going to be sharing with the world how great it is including offering my very own guided walks.

The North Downs Way travels mostly through the Kent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty offering spectacular open spaces even though it runs in one of the most built up areas of Britain.

I’m looking forward to sharing more with you all about The North Downs way and hope to see you all exploring it too.

Check out my interview with the team at Kent Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.

Little Venice and Camden

Nestled in London you will find the hidden gem of Little Venice, a beautiful area and perfect for taking a relaxing canal boat up to Camden Town.

There are a variety of boat trips that you can take, we took the London Waterbus Company from Little Venice to Camden Market and then on our return we went on Jason’s boat, the trip takes approximately 45 minutes each way.

The London Waterbus Company has a traditional narrowboat with large slide to open windows, with a friendly knowledgeable crew providing a good sightseeing talk.

Jason’s canal boat is open sided but can be more enclosed to provide protection if needed. The boat is steeped in history and now has a diesel engine to power it rather than the horses that once would have pulled it. With the friendly crew providing a sightseeing talk from Little Venice to Camden but no commentary on the Camden to Little Venice (although you can request if you would like).

The canal boat trip will take you on a leisurely journey through some iconic landmarks, The 248 meter Maida Hill Tunnel into Little Venice, Regents Park & London Zoo, Cumberland Basin & Primrose Hill and Camden Market.

As you drift through the canal at London Zoo you might catch a glimpse of a warthog or African wild hunting dog.  You will also see the zoo’s Snowdon Aviary is currently being renovated to accommodate the zoos Columbus monkeys and African parrots’ walk-through exhibit, so I’m sure in the future you might see some and hear some during your trip.

There are many magnificent mansions along the canal bank with stunning landscaped gardens including that of Grove House designed by Decimus Burton and built by James Burton.

Every section of the journey is different from the modern graffiti, bridges, the power station and the nature living in and along the canal.

A brief history

The Regents Canal opened in 1820 linking the Grand Union Canal at Little Venice and the River Thames at Lighthouse. The Regent Canal completed a link that enabled canal boats to go all around England including major trade hubs in Birmingham and Manchester.

As the transportation system changed over time the use of canal boats for moving goods dramatically declined, they became neglected and saw little use by anyone. These canals are now flourishing with people using them for all different purposes. There are water sports companies like The Pirate Castle are utilising the canal for kayaking, paddle boarding and canoeing. Beautiful old canal boats are being renovated for living in and being used to provide leisure trips to locals and tourists. There is also a selection of canal boats being utilised for dining, including The Grand Duchess.

Things to Do

At Camden Lock you can explore the famous Camden Market, set in a former warehouse, now offering a delightful selection of street food from all corners of the world alongside a selection of shops and market stalls selling all sorts of wares from vintage items to handmade goods. If you venture further into Camden Town along the High Street, you will find the buildings covered in bold art and signs, they are truly wonderful to see with even the big brands joining in with the local art vibe.  You could also check out the Buck Street Market which is a new Eco-Focused Market.

At Little Venice you could treat yourself to a tea or coffee at the Floating Boater Café which is based in the same area where the tour boats leave from. Or Maybe book for a show on The Puppet Theatre Barge which is currently at Little Venice from 11th September – 7th November 2021. You could also take the short walk along the canal towards Paddington where you will find some wonderful, converted canal boats offering food and drink including, The Darcie & May Green, The Cheese Barge and The Grand Duchess. There are also other restaurant and drinks options along the bankside like Zizzi and The Union Paddington.

We opted for a drink on the Darcie & May Green which was lovely and a bite to eat from Bar Torelli which was delicious I would recommend both.

If you are looking for somewhere in London a little different to explore, steeped in history with a mix of modern then head up to explore the Little Venice and Camden Market areas.  

Perfect for children – download your very own free local map and sight spotting list here.

Canal Boats Tours & Hire

The London Water Bus Company

Jason’s Trip

Jenny Wren

Canal and River Cruises Ltd

The Electric Barge

Go Boats – You can hire these from Paddington a great fun experience where you can captain your own boat. There are several locations that you can hire a GOBOAT including Paddington where you could explore the section of the Regents Canal between Paddington and Camden whilst enjoying your very own picnic on board.

New Adventures

Walking into new adventures 🥰

Starting a new chapter of my life and so looking forward to sharing with you all.

Summer Day Out Exploring Wingham Wildlife Park

Looking for a family fun day out? Then why not head to Wingham Wildlife Park

Wingham Wildlife Park is a fantastic family run park that house the largest number of animal species out of all wildlife parks and zoos in Kent. It is packed full of beautiful animals from Moon bears giraffes, chimps, meerkats, tigers and even some very exclusive dinosaurs.  

Choose to either picnic at one of the many picnic tables provided at the park or grab a treat in the café. With one café at the entrance to the park and the other located with the indoor play area.

It’s very hard to choose a favorite part but I do love the giraffes, they are just beautiful.

If you’re looking for that something extra special then you could book an animal experience or a VIP guided tour.

With an excellent indoor play area and an expanding outdoor play area, a season ticket is great for you to keep the children entertained all year round. 

It’s a wonderful place to take a visit on your own, with your family or maybe as a couple or with friends, no matter who you visit with you will not be disappointed. 

With the whole park having step free access it’s a great place for everyone to enjoy.

My top tip would be to go early and spend the whole day immersed in this truly brilliant wildlife park. 

Interesting note: The wildlife park had fantastic local support during COVID-19 from people purchasing off the Amazon wish list, they were really overwhelmed with the support from people. Keepers hosted many Facebook lives that were just truly wonderful when so many people could not leave their homes. Let’s remember people’s kindness during COVID-19 didn’t keep the money rolling in the bank and they will need support to keep their amazing wildlife Park going and I can tell you is worth every single penny for a visit or maybe two or three. 

Top 10 Things to Do in Canterbury and Surrounding Areas

Visit Canterbury Cathedral

Canterbury’s world famous cathedral is something not to be missed. Growing up in the Canterbury area I have been lucky enough to visited many times including singing in the cathedral with the school choir several times.

Why not take advantage of the children go free offer (valid until 31st October 2021, children aged 17 and under when accompanied by a paying adult).

After you have explored this magnificent cathedral you could explore the surrounding cobbled streets and grab a bite to eat in one of the many fantastic local eateries.

Visit a Beach

With so many beautiful beaches on the south east coast you have a spectacular choice. With both stony and sandy beaches there is bound to be the perfect beach for you.

Head to Birchington Minnis Bay Beach where you will find a vast flat area of sand ideal for a family day, with parking along the seafront; this can get very busy on hot days so arriving early and setting up for the day is a great plan. Or maybe take a trip to Viking Bay in Broadstairs where you will find a beautiful sandy beach in the quaint seaside town with lovely shops and delicious fish and chips. There is limited parking close to the beach however there are a selection of car parks in Broadstairs but will mean a walk down to the beach. No Car no problem there is a train station in Broadstairs head to National Rail to book train tickets.

Head over to either Herne Bay and Whitstable beach if you prefer a pebbles. Herne Bay has a lovely pier steeped in history where you can explore the local small business huts and then sit back and relax with some of the delicious treats they have to offer.
Over in Whitstable you could look to explore the harbour and have a delicious fish treat from the Lobster Shack.

Try Local Food and Drink

In the Canterbury area we have a fine selection of fabulous local food and drink to try.

The Foundry Brew Pub a unique Craft Brewery, Distillery, Restaurant & Bar, located in the heart of Canterbury City Centre. Why not try their beer Taster Tray, Five 1/3 of a pint samples of any of their beers or ciders.

Kathton House offers fine dining at it’s best and if you want to make a night of it you could book their guest room. Why not try their six course tasting menu that you can have with or without matched wines.

Locally award winning wine from Simpsons Wine Estate in Barham sold in many of the local farm shops or why not book one of their wine tour and tasting experiences.

Over at The Goods Shed you can either buy local produce to take away and try or take a seat at their restaurant and enjoy the delicious seasonal offerings.

Gibson Farm Shop is a delightful farm shop set in the countryside just outside of Wingham, stocked with lots of locally produced food and drink. They have their have their own Café where you can enjoy some delicious treats.

The Anchor at Wingham is a great place to visit for great pub grub and live music.

And one currently on my list to visit is The Corner House a 16th Century former Coach House overlooking the city walls and is now a stylish restaurant but one which retains lots of its original character.

These are a few of the many amazing places you can eat and drink in the Canterbury area. Please remember many places require you booking before you arrive however don’t presume places are fully booked on the day as unfortunately many do get last minute cancellations.

Pick Your Own

Take your pick of Kent’s finest fruit and vegetable offerings. A great family day out and you get to take it home, that’s if you haven’t already eaten it! Felderland Pick Your Own is my favorite.

Why not get messy with the children and make some Jam, a pie, a cake or a family meal with your pickings. I often set up mini cooking challenges for the family this is a great way to learn long term life skills.

Take a River Trip

It’s time to explore a River or two. Take a chilled guided tour in the heart of the city with Canterbury River Tours.

If your up for an adventure and getting stuck in yourself why not take a trip over to canoe wild to hire a canoe or maybe you will try paddle boarding.
If a river is not your style then head to explore the coast instead, with one of Dover Sea Safaris unforgettable Experiences.

Visit a Castle

Step back into history and visit one of the local Castles. if your looking for something small and beautiful then head to Whitstable Castle and Gardens where you can also take a visit to their tea room for afternoon tea (pre-bookable only).
Looking for something a little bigger for the children to play knights of the castle then head to the white cliffs and explore Dover Castle.

Go for a Walk

Where do I start? There are so many fantastic walks suitable for every ability.
If your looking for a guided walk the why not take a guided walk along The Crab and Winkle Way with Saltmarsh Walking Company.

Remember that a walk doesn’t have to be long or in the middle of nowhere, it needs to be fun and enjoyable. So why not get out and do some exploring yourself? Check out Explore Kent for some fabulous walks. And for some walking inspiration follow The Wild Native on Instagram.

I am currently designing walking tours so be sure to follow me on Instagram to keep updated on new experiences coming later in the year.

Visit an Animal Park

Here in the South of Kent we have an excellent selection of animal parks. If your looking to see some elephants then head to Howletts to see the largest African elephant herd in the UK. The elephant herd maybe heading back to their natural habitat so take the opportunity now to visit them before they depart.

If your a penguin or giraffe lover then head to Wingham Wildlife Park. During the English covid19 lockdowns the wildlife park hosted many fabulous Facebook Live streams so lets get supporting them now they are open.

Explore some Gardens

Why not take a visit to one of the many beautiful gardens hidden in Kent.
One of my favorites is Mount Ephraim Gardens take time to explore their gorgeous grounds, gardens and yummy food at the tea room.

Have lunch in Westgate Gardens in the north west of Canterbury situated next to the iconic West Gate Towers.

Just outside of Canterbury in the village of Goodnestone are Goodnestone Park Gardens not only are these beautiful gardens but also offering theatre performances and other events throughout the summer.

Stay Over Night

Visiting Canterbury? Why not stay here too? And even if you live local why not take a local mini break?

Airbnb is a great option for those wishing to have a home from home whilst visiting Canterbury.

If your looking for something luxury then head over to The Cave Hotel which is simply stunning with fantastic facilities including a golf course, pool and restaurant.

Looking to be outside with nature? Then head to one of the many local glamping/camp sites; Nethergong Camping, Woolton Farm Or maybe the delightful Shepherds Hut nestled in vines by Hut in the Vines.

Canterbury and the surrounding areas really have so much to offer all times of the year. Why not take some time out this summer and spend it getting to explore Canterbury more.

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