There is nothing quite like a weekend away from it all to recharge your batteries, refresh your mind and set you up for the inevitable return to the grindstone. Whether it be a relaxing break in the Lake District or a romantic weekend in the Chilterns there is a lot to be said for taking a long weekend out from the hustle and bustle of daily life.
With everyone`s eyes on London this summer, many city dwellers will be looking to escape the crowds and head to less populated areas. One such destination and a favourite for families everywhere is the charming county of Kent. Also known as `The Garden of England` because of its abundance of orchards and hop gardens, Kent has much to offer the weekend traveller.
With history and heritage a plenty, Kent also boasts multiple award winning beaches and exhilarating water sports activities. Some of its most iconic landmarks include Canterbury Cathedral, Leeds Castle and the White Cliffs of Dover. Awash with castles, cathedrals and country houses, the hardest choice is where to start. Not to be missed for its combination of ancient and modern history is Dover Castle with is Secret Wartime Tunnels of WWII and its historic Great Tower telling the story of Henry II. Here too you will find exhibited a unique Bronze Age Boat, the world`s oldest known seagoing vessel.
If it is maritime history that you are looking for then a perfect place to start is the Historic Dockyard at Chatham to discover over 400 years of it, or journey further back in time on the Maritime Heritage Trail from Gravesend to Dungeness to explore thousands of years of naval and nautical heritage.
With Roman remains and mosaics to be enjoyed at the Canterbury Roman Museum and Anglo Saxon treasures at the Canterbury Heritage Museum, there really is something for everyone in this county overflowing with places of interest.
Kent has been home over the centuries to some of history`s most colourful and well known characters. King Henry VIII grew up at Eltham Palace and later courted Anne Boleyn at Hever Castle. Charles Darwin wrote `On the Origin of the Species` from his home at Down House. Charles Dickens lived and died in Kent and was much inspired by its places and its people, his books littered with references still identifiable today. A more recent resident of Kent is Sir Winston Churchill whose country retreat Chartwell gives visitors an insight into his private persona.
The Garden of England` of course has an abundance of gardens, one of the most interesting of which is the World Garden of Plants at Lullingstone Castle. Laid out in the shape of a map of the world the stunning arrangement comprises plants from across the globe. Other notable gardens include those of Mount Ephraim, Goodnestone Park and Bedgebury Pinetum. An oasis of serenity is the Secret Gardens of Sandwich and Brogdale is home to the National Fruit Collections.
Visitors seeking culture and history will be spoiled for choice in Kent and if it`s activity weekends you are after then look no further, England`s Garden has it all.