Conveniently close to commuter-land, providing a much-needed breathing space for urbanites
The unspoilt plateau of the Kent Downs is surprisingly undeveloped despite lying just a couple of dozen miles south of London. It is a popular respite for the millions of Londoners living just a short drive away. The unique chalk geology shapes its habitats and wildlife.
The Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty is conveniently close to several large centres of population, providing a much-needed breathing space. While just 66,000 people live within the AONB itself, over a million live within a mile of its boundary.
The Kent Downs are a great arc of chalk stretching from Maidstone to Dover, where the underlying chalk reveals itself at the Severn Sisters white cliffs. This unique geology makes the area a special and enchanting corner of southeastern England.
The plateau incorporates a pronounced south-facing escarpment, secluded dry valleys and a network of tiny lanes, ancient woodlands and delicate chalk grassland. The Downs are particularly rich in wildlife and home to several rare species which aren't found anywhere else in Britain.
The extensive network of footpaths, byways, bridleways and trails makes the area easily explored both on foot or by bike.
The North Downs Way National Trail (142 miles, 227.2 km) showcases some of the natural highlights of the Kent Downs. When not on top of the scarp, the trail follows the ancient pilgrims' route to Canterbury and there are many circular day walks linking up to parts of the trail and local railway stations, helping you to explore the local landscape, heritage and villages.
Like all of the green spaces on the fringes of London, there’s no shortage of competitive events in the Kent Downs – from 5ks, triathlons and sportives, to mud runs, night challenges and trail runs.