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At the Canterbury Information Centre, you can buy two trails called Hidden Gems [1 and 2] for £1.25. There's one for the City and the another by the River. They are designed to take you off the beaten track. Each trail allows you to stumble upon the many art galleries, bookshops, unique shops and quaint cafes, and in your own time. They also lead you onto pockets of calm whilst suggesting a couple of places, on route, to take a few interesting photographs. And these trails double as a great souvenir of your visit.
Visit www.canterbury.co.ukWhitehall Meadows, Bingley Island and Hambrook Marshes - From the Westgate Gardens, continue under the road bridge and in just a few minutes walk you will be in this tranquil area of open countryside by the River Stour. You might see the wild Konik ponies that have been brought in to keep the grass under control.
The Crab & Winkle Way is a cycle path mainly following the route of the world's first regular passenger train service, sadly the train tracks no longer exist. After the initial steep hill it is mostly off-road and within a short distance of the city you will be in the magnifient ancient woodland of The Blean. If you're feeling adventurous and energetic you could continue the whole way to Whitstable and back, or return by train. Cycles can be hired next to Canterbury West railway station at Canterbury Cycle Hire. To pick up the route on foot, take bus 4 to Rough Common and the route starts opposite Kent College, just to the south of the bus stop.
Blean Woods RSPB Reserve is at Church Wood in Rough Common, a northern suburb. Woodland birds are secretive and hard to spot, but the reserve offers a magnificent circular walk through ancient woodland and heathland. Take Bus 27 into Rough Common village and alight at Lovell Road bus stop, or take the more frequent Triangle Bus (4) and get off at the Rough Common turning, then a short walk following the road into Rough Common village.
The Great Stour Way is a 3-mile foot and cycle path along the Great Stour river between Canterbury and the pretty village of Chartham. The path is accessed via Whitehall Meadows. Chartham is served by both buses and trains for an alternative route back.
Larkey Valley Wood is an area of ancient woodland on the outskirts of the city and is renowned for wildflowers in Spring such as bluebells and orchids. Take Bus 28 to Thanington and get off at the Strangers Lane/Cockering Road stop. Walk west along Cockering Road until the car park entrance.
Clowes Wood is along the route of the Crab & Winkle Way but difficult to access without a car or bike. There is a wonderful circular walk from the car park on Radfall Road just north of the village of Tyler Hill.
Stodmarsh National Nature Reserve is three miles north-east of Canterbury but difficult to reach without a car. It's one of the most important wildlife areas in the region, with a number of different habitats such as reed beds, lakes and woodland and is a good place to spot rare species such as Marsh Harriers. There are easy walks through peaceful countryside.