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Explore the Kent Downs in the Garden of England

Explore the Kent Downs in the Garden of England

Despite having driven past Faversham many times on my way to Kent’s beautiful coastal areas, the medieval market town and surrounding area, nestled deep in Kent’s North Downs, had never been on my radar.

So when I was invited to work with Kent Downs on their #findyourspace #ExperienceKent campaign, I jumped at the chance to highlight some of the fabulous things to do in the Faversham area and to promote a visit to the glorious Kent countryside.

This post is part of a paid partnership with Visit Kent and Kent Downs AONB. All content is based on my opinion of the places I visited.

This article may contain affiliate links. Please read the full disclaimer here.

Things to Do on a Day Out in the Kent Downs

Macknade Food Hall Faversham

Find Macknade at Selling Road, Faversham, ME13 8XF
White and black exterior of Macknade food Hall in Faversham

My first stop was at Macknade Food Hall, a family-run fine food farm shop in Faversham that has existed since 1847. Another store is in Ashford, and one is coming soon to Tunbridge Wells.

Macknade is a one-stop destination to buy the best local Kent produce from the Garden of England. The range of products is incredible. From sumptuous Kent fruit and vegetables to the local Kent honey and freshly baked bread, there is so much to choose from that you won’t leave empty-handed!

Macknade even has an in-house butchery supplying the finest local meats. Mouthwatering sausages are a real favourite with shoppers, and meat marinades are made using produce from the farm shop, ensuring the freshest flavours.

The wine and beer store was impressive, stocking over 90 wines from around the world and at home, including bubbles from Kent and a huge selection of local Kentish beers.

A photo of a shelf full of Kent wines

The outdoor space at Macknade has a chilled vibe and offers an outdoor seating area and street food vans similar to what you would expect to find in London. I will certainly be returning to try it out one evening.

Why not head into the medieval town of Faversham during your visit to Kent?

Breakfast at Macknade

I was fortunate to enjoy breakfast at The Cafe at Macknade. I’m a bit of a coffee connoisseur and was pleased that the flat white was served perfectly and had a real depth of flavour. I ordered cinnamon toast with added banana, and again it was delicious and a really generous serving.

breakfast menu, cinnamon toast and coffee at Macknade's Faversham

Most of the produce used in the cafe is from local Kent suppliers, which makes eating at Macknade even more of a draw. From field to farm shop ensures that Kent’s farming communities are supported and diners know exactly where their meal originated. Perfect in every way!

interior of Macknade in Faversham

Kent products at Macknade are interspersed with international delicacies. A recent addition was a Korean food section which is selling well.

Also, unusual items such as red bananas from Ecuador are now stocked. As a banana lover, I was interested in discovering the fruit’s medicinal value. All I can say is ask the greengrocer for more details!

Mouthwatering Kent Produce

Of course, I had to buy some goodies for myself before I left Macknade. I stocked up on honey from the North Downs, coffee from Margate, lemon curd with lavender from Wye and the most delicious pear and ginger juice from Maidstone.

And for the man in my life – a selection of beers from Kent. Brewed in places like Romney Marsh, Whitstable and Tonbridge, it is great to taste beers produced near home.

Buying honey produced locally to where you live can help ease hay fever symptoms and supports local beekeepers

Doddington Place Gardens

Find the gardens at Church Lane, Doddington, Faversham, ME9 OBB

Open on Wednesday, Sunday and Bank Holiday Mondays. Entry prices are £9 for adults / £2.50 for children.

My next stop was Doddington Place Gardens, a 20-minute drive from Macknade. I had been invited to look around the stunning gardens and then take part in a short photography taster course.

Historic Doddington Place is a privately owned estate in Faversham that opens its gardens to visitors twice a week.

It has been in the Oldfield family for the last century, and the current custodians have lovingly restored many areas of the gardens.

My visit to Doddington Place couldn’t have coincided with better weather.

The temperature was in the high 20s, the sun shone, and the flowers looked magnificent.

Amicia Oldfield was my guide around the gardens. Hearing about the gardens and family history connected to this historic house in Kent was fascinating.

There are many different areas to discover at Doddington Place Garden.

From the formal borders packed with alliums and roses and the pond area in the Sunk Garden to the renovated Edwardian rock garden with stunning views across the North Downs. No wonder Kent is called the Garden of England.

Kent Down views from the rock garden

Wandering the pathways took me to the Folly Walk and Spring Garden, with shaded areas to take a moment to escape the heat.

a white bench at the side of a small pond in Doddington Place Faversham

Amazing Clipped Yew Hedges

One thing that makes Doddington stand out from the crowd is the strange bulging shapes of the clipped yew hedges planted before the First World War.

I immediately thought of Alice in Wonderland when I saw them and half-expected the Queen of Hearts to appear with her croquet stick at any moment!

The head gardener has cut small doorways in the hedge to allow children to step inside the undergrowth and play out their own magical fantasy.

clipped yew hedges at Doddington Place Gardens in Kent

As I was visiting in June, the Woodland Garden was awash with colour from the rhododendron and azalea trees. It was magical to wander through the dense woodland and listen to the birdsong.

After circumnavigating the gardens twice, I enjoyed tea and cake on the front lawn. But my day hadn’t finished just yet. I was meeting Paul Burgess from Through the Lens Experiences, who would give me some photography tips and tricks.

Doddington Place is listed as one of Britain’s finest Historic Houses and was once owned by the Croft family (of the sherry and port fame)

A Photographic Taster Experience at Doddington Place

Find Paul Burgess at Through the Lens Photography Experiences

Kent is full of great activities to discover, and one of them is Paul’s photography experiences in the beautiful Kent countryside.

Before we met, Paul asked me whether I wanted advice on capturing images on my iPhone or camera; I decided to use my iPhone.

Paul gave me tips on framing subjects and getting close to a subject for maximum impact. Another tip was using things such as lines to guide a person’s eye to the subject matter.

Luckily Doddington Place had plenty of great subjects to choose from, and I took quite a few shots on my iPhone using Paul’s tips.

Here are three of my favourites!

Through The Lens Experiences in Kent

If you are a budding photographer, one of Paul’s photographic experiences in Kent may be what you are looking for.

His day courses include mindfulness in photography, a Kent brewery visit, a Kent vineyard visit and, of course, walks in the Kent Downs. What more could you want?

Lighting is a key factor for capturing great photos and bright sunlight is a photographer’s worst nightmare

Paul Burgess
Striped lines in garden lawn leading to two white chairs against a hedge

I hope this post has inspired you to plan a visit to Faversham and the Kent Downs.

So next time you are heading from London on the M2 motorway, admiring the beautiful North Downs scenery, make sure to turn off at junction 7 for Faversham. You won’t want to miss one of the best towns in Kent.

Other things to do in Faversham

Brogdale Fruit Farm

Oare Gunpowder Works Country Park

Oare Marshes Nature Reserve

Shepherd Neame Brewery Tour

Belmont House and Gardens

Kent Coastal Towns Near Faversham

Driving times from Faversham

Broadstairs – 20 minutes

Herne Bay – 25 minutes

Margate – 35 minutes

Kent Castles Near Faversham

Driving Times from Faversham

Dover Castle – 30 minutes

Leeds Castle – 30 minutes

Deal Castle – 40 minutes

Walmer Castle – 50 minutes

Please pin for future Kent travel inspiration

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