Kent’s most scenic river and canal walks

Walking, Nature, The Great British Outdoors

Posted by Ed Roberts on 15th October 2023

Kent’s most scenic river and canal walks

The English garden of Kent is criss-crossed with a calligraphy of rivers, so it’s a superb choice for those who love nothing better than a gentle riverside walk. There is also the long canal that crosses through the county and a very interesting history and former purpose. From the High Weald to the lowlands at the coast, follow us along the waterside byways of Kent in our inspirational guide. 

Why not stay at one of our self-catering holiday cottages in Kent, we have quite a collection for you to choose from, whether you are looking for a small bolthole for a romantic escape, larger properties for family breaks, or dog-friendly accommodation. Where will you stay?

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Royal Military Canal, near Hythe

Royal Military Canal, near Hythe

The Royal Military Canal was dug by navvies to give the Kent coast a second line of defence during the Napoleonic Era. Should the coast have been breached by invading forces, the canal gave the British a ready-made fortification to fall back to. Nowadays, large sections of the canal are lined with public towpaths. Running 28 miles from Seabrook (near Folkestone) to Cliff End (near Hastings), we’d recommend the section in the seaside town of Hythe. Along this stretch, you can see concrete sound mirrors, Romney Marsh, and take a ride out on the 15-inch gauge light steam railway train to Dungeness. 

Distance: 28 miles  (Hythe section -  3 miles)

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Greycot | Sleeps: 5 guests plus 1 dog

River Darent - The Darent Valley River Path

River Darent - The Darent Valley River Path

Taking in the lush Kent Downs AONB, the Greensands Hills high above Sevenoaks, and the river’s end where it meets the busy Thames, the Darent Valley is one of Kent’s best-kept secrets. There is a 19-mile-long waymarked path giving wayfarers access to a lovely choice of footpaths that wind past country pubs and spectacular views as the river climbs back to its source in the hills.

Distance: 19 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: 3 Hilltop Cottages | Sleeps: 4 guests plus 1 dog 

River Medway - Medway Valley Walk

River Medway - Medway Valley Walk

Stretching 28 miles, the Medway Valley Walk takes in the history and culture of the Kent people who worked along the banks of the River Medway over the centuries. The river was a vital transport link across the north of Kent and walkers can enjoy the verdant countryside and the busy market towns of Tonbridge and Rochester, the Teston Bridge locks, and the ruins of Tonbridge Castle, as well as lots of very pretty country villages characterised by their thatched-roof cottages, and oast houses sat beside the river, an emblem of Kent’s hop growing heritage.

Distance: 28 miles

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Stay nearby: Little Bourne | Sleeps: 4 guests 

River Len - Len Valley Walk

River Len - Len Valley Walk

From the heart of Maidstone to Lenham in the east, you will find this very pleasant 12-mile riverside walk. A stroll along the River Len reveals a lush landscape where you can see a whole host of native birdlife and wildlife. Keep your eyes peeled for foxes and mice along the pathway. The Len Valley Walk passes close to the impressive Leeds Castle, once the home of Catherine of Aragorn, Henry VIII’s first wife.

Distance: 12 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Salts Barn | Sleeps: 4 guests and 2 dogs 

Rivers Bourne and Medway - The East Peckham Walk

Rivers Bourne and Medway - The East Peckham Walk

This especially idyllic walk is great for wildlife spotting, seeking out dragonflies and rare damselflies like the common darter, banded demoiselle, and the southern hawker. The course of this lovely trail originates in Hadlow and files down through riverside fields that line the River Medway. You’ll also spot oast houses and hop gardens sat beside the River Bourne. Seek out the old army pillboxes, the only riverside buildings between Tonbridge and East Peckham, a remnant of the local military manoeuvres in Kent.

Distance: 3 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: The Coach House Tonbridge | Sleeps: 2 guests

River Dour Walk

River Dour - The River Dour Walking Trail

The River Dour Trail is 4 miles long and begins at Wellington Dock close to Dover’s seafront. It reaches inland past Crabble Mill, Buckland Paper Mill, Pencester Gardens, Whinless Down Nature Reserve and several picturesque Kent villages. The path is level and sealed for its entire length making it perfect for a gentle and steady amble on a sunny day.

Distance: 4 miles

Difficulty: Easy

Stay nearby: Seapoint | Sleeps: 5 guests and 1 dog

River Stour -  Stour Valley Walk

River Stour -  Stour Valley Walk

The Stour Valley Walk is a 58-mile river walk across the Low Weald and North Downs, leading wayfarers through some very attractive parts of East Kent. Lush grasslands, woodlands, marshes, peat bog, generous orchards and Kent villages make the Stour Valley one of the best-loved walks in the county. Look out for herons, just one of the many birds that you may see on this river trail. Depending on the section you choose you may also see the spire of Canterbury Cathedral, Stodmarsh Nature Reserve, or the historic mills between Ashford and Lenham.

Distance: 58 miles

Difficulty: Easy to moderate

Stay nearby: Mill Cottage - Lenham | Sleeps: 10 guests and 2 dogs

River Eden - Eden Valley Walk

River Eden - Eden Valley Walk

Following the tree-lined banks of the River Medway and the River Eden, the 15-mile-long trail covers areas of the High Weald AONB, taking in the village of Edenbridge where the trail originates. The village and the local area are detailed in the interesting Eden Valley Museum. Cross parkland, woods, and fields along the trails as it encounters historic places like Hever Castle (the former home of Anne Boleyn, Henry VIII’s second wife), Penshurst Place, and the haunted village of Chiddingstone. It is possible to cover the full length of the Eden Valley Walk in a single day, but most visitors divide the trail into more manageable sections.

Distance: 15 miles

Difficulty: Moderate

Stay nearby: 3 Stable Mews | Sleeps: 4 guests

Stay with us in Kent

Visit gorgeous Kent for some satisfying river walks - we have a large collection of self-catering holiday cottages for you to pick from. Choose a river or a canal walk and then retire to your home from home to relax and rejuvenate for another day of exploration. View our range of Kent cottages today.

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Disclaimer: Whilst every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of the information at the time of writing, please ensure you check carefully before making any decisions based on the contents within this article.