Maidstone, the County Town of Kent, is situated in the heart of the “Garden of England” and the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty almost halfway between London and Dover. Despite many changes through the centuries the wonderful cluster of 14th Century buildings including All Saints Church, Archbishop’s Palace, the College of Priests, and the Archbishops’ Stables are reminders of the town’s long history as a centre of religion and government. Maidstone also boasts an active retail centre and extensive leisure and entertainment opportunities, all set in a gentle landscape of beautiful and charming villages, some of which are easily accessible by bike from the town centre.
In a matter of minutes, you can walk or cycle from Maidstone town centre to Mote Park, Maidstone’s largest park, set in 450 acres of historic parkland. If you are feeling more adventurous, you can cycle north east to meet the Pilgrim’s Cycle Trail, a long distance leisure route that offers spectacular views of the Kent Downs. The Pilgrims Cycle Trail also follows sections of the North Downs Way National Trail, Kent’s premier long distance walking route. Walkers of this trail enjoy spectacular views from the North Downs as well as the breathtaking scenery that makes up the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It also passes through White Horse Wood, a spectacular and historic site located at Detling, just to the north east of Maidstone. Whatman Park is also conveniently situated close to the town centre. Here you can enjoy the woodland, wild ower meadow and nature reserve areas or take a walk along the River Medway, following part of the 10km Millennium River Park route. Or why not make a day of it and walk further along the river following the Medway Valley Path?
National Cycle Route 17 and the Pilgrims Cycle Trail
This new cycle route connects Rochester Cathedral to Canterbury Cathedral and can be picked up from various locations in and around Maidstone. Heading east the route goes through the villages of Boxley, Harrietsham, Hollingbourne, Charing and Westwell, all of which are nestled in picturesque settings along the Downs. At Ashford the Trail connects with National Route 18 to take you on to Canterbury, alternatively a direct train connects Ashford International to Maidstone East. Lining the route are interpretation boards explaining the landscape and history, spectacular views and quaint historical inns where you can relax and quench your thirst. The route is only really suitable for mountain bikes, and as it follows the Downs, expect hills! Heading north, route 17 (Pilgrims Cycle Trail) climbs Blue Bell Hill before cutting across the countryside to arrive in Rochester by the River Medway and Cathedral. Both routes follow a mixture of quiet lanes and track-free sections. All public rights of way are shown on the map. Walkers can use all the routes and cyclists are permitted to use bridleways, restricted byways and byways, although not all are suitable for cycling.
Cycling is the often the fastest, always the healthiest and, apart from walking, the most environmentally sustainable form of transport. Cycling has many benefits for both the individual cyclist and society as a whole. As an example, for journeys up to 3 miles, particularly in towns like Maidstone, cycling is usually the fastest way of getting from A to B. The current cycle network in Maidstone links many urban areas to the town centre. This includes National Cycle Route 17, extending from the town centre north to the Medway towns, and Regional Route 12, which links the town centre to the urban areas west along London Road. Take a close look at your map and see how easy it is to get from your home to the station, school, or town centre. Walking and Cycling aren’t just a rewarding and fun way to get around town – switching from using the car for some trips will reduce climate change emissions and saves you a lot of money, it also allows you to integrate some healthy activity into your daily routine, helping you lose weight and get fitter. For information on taking bikes on buses or trains, please visit the following websites; for trains;, for buses;. If you would like to make comments or suggestions on cycling issues in Maidstone, contact Maidstone Borough Council.