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Cycling the Garden of England – orchards, cliffs and maritime history

loki1973 (CC BY-NC-ND 2.0)

Cycling the Garden of England – orchards, cliffs and maritime history

Bike Touring Collection by Amy

3-6

days

3-6 h

/ day

189 mi

5,850 ft

5,850 ft

Fruit trees laden with ripe treasures line fertile farmland, castles stand proudly in acres of cultivated parkland, wildflowers bring colour to sprawling marshlands by the sea – Kent is called the ‘Garden of England’ for good reason.

The Garden of England Cycle Route takes you from the heart of London to Hastings, exploring beautiful corners of the South East. This diverse region offers everything from flat grasslands to towering cliffs as you ride 193 miles (311 km) over 7 stages.

The stages in this Collection average 28 miles (45 km) in length, which should give you plenty of time to explore the sites along the way. Of course, if you want to complete the route in fewer days, you can easily adjust them as you wish.

You are never far from a hotel, train station, or hot coffee so you can be completely flexible and hop in a pub if the weather turns. There's also plenty of accommodation available, ranging from hotels to hosts on Warmshowers (warmshowers.org).

Your adventure takes you through green countryside inland to the dramatic coastline overlooking the Channel. Cycling along the spectacular White Cliffs of Dover, which have welcomed travellers to England for centuries, is a unique experience on a bicycle.

You can ride the Garden of England Cycle Route at any time of year, although summer is your best bet for sunny days – perfect for enjoying an ice cream on one of the many beaches.

With only a few hillier sections along the coast, this route is fairly flat most of the way, so it is the perfect choice for all ability levels, even if your muscles need awakening from hibernation.

If you plan to cycle with your kids, you may want to consider avoiding central London. Instead, you could start from stage 2 in Gravesend. Although the route avoids roads where possible, your children should have some experience riding in traffic.

The route follows traffic-free trails, bridleways, and gravel tracks such as the Crab and Winkle Way almost half of the way. Whilst most of the cycle paths are paved, you will encounter some gravel and mud, so leave your thin racing tyres at home. Other than that, any type of bike is up for the job. There are also plenty of bike shops en route in case you experience a mechanical failure.

Thanks to its location on the south-easterly tip of the British Isles, Kent has a uniquely diverse history. The towns of Hastings, New Romney, Dover, Rye, and Sandwich, which once formed the Cinque Ports, lie en route. Once important trading and military ports, these towns were rife with smugglers many centuries ago. Further inland, you visit the UNESCO city of Canterbury, known for its cathedral and Roman heritage.

Your adventure begins in central London, making it convenient to reach by train from across the UK. You can also easily catch a train home from Hastings, the finishing point, too. Alternatively, how about following the Downs and Weald Way all the way back to London to finish on two wheels?

For more information about the Downs and Weald Way, visit: komoot.com/collection/905482/from-london-to-the-sea-a-great-adventure-on-the-downs-and-weald-way

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Garden of England

177 mi

5,225 ft

5,275 ft

Last updated: December 20, 2021

Plan your own version of this adventure in the multi-day planner based on the stages suggested in this Collection.

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Tours & Highlights

  • Intermediate
    03:09
    31.8 mi
    10.1 mph
    700 ft
    700 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Weaving down buzzing streets in the capital as you loosely follow the Thames is an exciting way to kick off your adventure along the Garden of England Cycle Route.

    

    Stage 1 takes you 31 miles (51 km) through the capital to Gravesend. With 680 feet (210 m) of elevation gain, you can take it easy, leaving

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:52
    28.6 mi
    10.0 mph
    825 ft
    850 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    In contrast to your first day of adventure, stage 2 takes you through peaceful Kent countryside, giving you your first taste of the colourful county known as the ‘Garden of England’.

    

    Bid farewell to the River Thames and switch onto a tow path along the Thames and Medway Canal. Quiet nature surrounds

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:30
    25.1 mi
    10.0 mph
    625 ft
    650 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Rusting shipwrecks haunt sandy beaches and wild ponies roam the wetlands as you continue your adventure through Swale in Kent. Today, your legs will power you 24.8 miles (40 km) from Sittingbourne to Whistable.

    

    The first section takes you through farmland on a network of bridleways, farm tracks and lanes

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:38
    26.4 mi
    10.0 mph
    825 ft
    825 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    From historic cities to seascapes and rolling countryside, stage 4 showcases some of the very best Kent has to offer.

    

    In Whitstable, join the Crab and Winkle Way, a wonderful section of traffic-free gravel through tall coniferous trees and secluded nature. There’s one short climb up to 260 feet (80 m

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    01:46
    17.9 mi
    10.1 mph
    625 ft
    625 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Frothy waves lapping at white chalk cliffs, which have welcomed travellers home for centuries, await on stage 5. Today, you cover 20.5 miles (32.8 km) along some of the finest coast in the UK.

    

    The second half of the day will truly warm up your legs as you experience your first taste of coastal hills

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    03:23
    31.3 mi
    9.3 mph
    1,300 ft
    1,325 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Stage 6 takes you along the coast and through the countryside, with wonderful views the whole way.

    

    Your day begins tackling hills as you ride up and over the undulating coastline, collecting 1,345 feet (410 m) of elevation gain in the first 13.6 miles (22 km). Although this is the toughest section of

    by Amy

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  • Intermediate
    02:54
    28.2 mi
    9.7 mph
    975 ft
    900 ft
    Intermediate bike ride. Good fitness required. Mostly paved surfaces. Suitable for all skill levels.

    Your final stage following the Garden of England route combines the very best the region has to offer – long, golden beaches, chocolate-box villages, and coastal landscapes.

    

    Today, you ride 27.9 miles (45 km) from New Romney to Hastings, climbing a total of 984 feet (300 m).

    

    From New Romney, enjoy more

    by Amy

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Collection Stats

  • Tours
    7
  • Distance
    189 mi
  • Duration
    19:12 h
  • Elevation
    5,850 ft5,850 ft

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Cycling the Garden of England – orchards, cliffs and maritime history

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