Kent’s had a hard time historically, the closest point to the continent, it’s usually been the landing point for any invasion. The bright side, if there can be one, is that many cultures have left their mark on the county, leaving it historically and culturally bountiful. What about the wild, we hear you ask? Well, the Kent Wildlife Trust manages and protects over 9000 acres of land, on 80 different sites and nature reserves, so if it’s wild you want, it’s wild you’ll get. Starting on the western border, follow us on a quick tour of Kent.
If you’re going to start anywhere, start at The Old Bank, in Westerham. Mentioned in the 2022 Michelin guide, The Old Bank is headed up by Chef Adam Turley, whose experience working in three-star Michelin kitchens has translated into an incredible dining experience – earning him numerous awards. The menu reads as a joyride through British cuisine influenced by French techniques using a selection of locally-sourced ingredients – lulling you into a false sense of understanding with the title, and blowing you away with its fusion of style and unconventional twists. The Bank’s vault has been cleverly repurposed into the wine cellar and offers a vast selection of wines, as well as a cocktail menu which threatens to require a cab ride home.
If you haven’t cooked bacon on an open campfire or devoured a welcome hamper at one of our spaces, you’re in sore need of fuelling up for the day. Head east to Sevenoaks to Life on High, plant-based specialty café by day, restaurant, bar and club by night. Beyond the brilliance of their net zero plan, they happen to be a great place to grab breakfast – and vegan-a-phobes can rest easy knowing meat is available too. Grab some banoffee pancakes, a veggie sausage sandwich, or crumble to your carnivorous ways with a bacon bap sourced from Chart farm just 4mi down the road. When you’re done, loosen your belt, and waddle 1.6mi down the road to the Sevenoaks Wildlife reserve, and walk off that breakfast exploring 73 hectares of flora and fauna-rich reserve.
This will take either a flip of a coin or a check of the bank balance. You could either head to Red Hill Estate Vineyard, a 35m car journey east, for a tour and tasting of their vineyard, or a bottle and a blanket to picnic on their grounds – and enjoy the sightly surrounds of their sustainable viticulture farm. Or, head South for 10mi, to Epic Life Kent, and take up paddleboarding for a couple of hours on the River Medway. Still unconvinced? Take a woodland walk through Bore Place, just 21m south. With 500 acres of organic dairy farm to explore, there’s colour coded trails to pick for your ideal walk time. From any of these spots, you could head to Royal Tunbridge Wells in a short drive and see if you can get a reservation at The Old Fishmarket to build your own seafood platter from the fruits de mer.
A quick tour of Royal Tunbridge Wells (and a quick stroll through the grounds of Eridge Estate), and you’re ready to move closer to the coast, just south of Peasmarsh – to Tillingham Farm. 70 acres of mixed farm, this incredible spot is home to vineyards, fruit trees and ancient woodland – and most importantly the site of a restaurant, bar and wood fired pizza place! The attention to detail here goes down to the microscopic level, working to produce food and wine in a highly sustainable approach with biodynamics, soil repletion and microbial diversity. Further up the size scale, this translates to Chef Brendan Eades’ four course menu, crafted from produce from their very own walled garden, meat reared in the fields, and fish caught from the nearby harbour. If you’re going to eat anywhere in Kent, this would be it. If you’ve arrived in time to go to the shop, select something fireside worthy for your arrival home later that night.
It’s Sunday morning, and Sundays are usually one of two things – An active rest or restful rest. Supposing you’re still somewhere near Tillingham (hopefully not dazed, confused and half in and out of a hedge holding a bottle of their finest wine). You’re perfectly positioned to make the choice between a wholesome bit of exertion, or a calm perch somewhere pretty. Those with some spring in their step can head southeast to Action Watersports, and choose between a wild swim in their freshwater lake, a spot of SUP, jet skiing, water-skiing and even flyboarding – that awesome looking water jet-packing thing. If there’s already enough wet coming from the sky, then it’s off in search of a roast. If you drive southwest for half an hour you’ll arrive at Hastings, where you’ll find Farmyard – restaurant, wine bar and wine shop. From organic meat to fresh fish, veggie and vegan, there’s something for everyone, and they’re famed for their Sunday roasts. Have lunch and hit up the wine shop for a tremendously short-lived memento – the only battle you’ll find here these days, is between your belly and your top trouser button.