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Local Attractions

Bilsington Priory is a former Augustinian priory in Kent, England, about three quarters of a mile (1 km) north of Bilsington, about 5 miles (8 km) south of Ashford and approximately 7 miles to the nearest beach!

It was founded in 1253 and suppressed in the Dissolution of the Monasteries in 1536.  Some of its buildings survived and were converted into a farmhouse. In 1906 they were restored to designs by JT Micklethwaite and are Grade I listed. The priory is now a wedding and conference venue.

ALRC National Rally 2020 - Bilsington in KentA perfect family holiday destination...

Ideally located approximately 7 miles from the nearest beach at Dymchurch, the list of things to do and see feels almost endless. Kent is truly the Garden of England, with breath-taking countryside, stunning coastline, world-famous attractions and delicious food and drink.

Incredible locations are waiting to be discovered such as The White Cliffs of Dover, Leeds Castle, Hever Castle, Canterbury Cathedral, The Historic Dockyards Chatham, plus umpteen nature reserves, castles, sailing/boating/canoeing venues, museums, gardens, beaches,vineyards and breweries, Kent is also famous for its award-winning sparkling wine so why not take a tour of one of Kent's many vineyards to sample some English wine, or visit Britain's oldest brewer Shepherd Neame for a taste of proper British beer.

Or why not hop across the Channel via the Tunnel.....Brexit willing hahaha!

See below for a selection of places that you may wish to visit, or click onto visitkent or sussextopattractions to browse what the area has to offer.  There really is something for everyone!

The Historic Dockyard, Chatham 
A fantastic day out in Kent is waiting for you....  Discover 3 historic warships (including a Submarine!), take a 'Call the Midwife' Tour, see the RNLI historic lifeboat collection, and make your own rope in our awe-inspiring Victorian Ropery.

The Dockyard is jam-packed with activities for the whole family including a Retro Beach – feel the sand beneath your toes, enjoy beach games and build as many sand castles as you can on our unique beach. You can even enjoy traditional ice-cream in your deckchair whilst looking out over this unique place.

Click here to go to their website.

Romney Hythe & Dymchurch Railway
There’s nothing quite like a ride on The Romney, Hythe & Dymchurch Railway - so it’s little wonder that this little wonder is one of Kent's top tourist attractions! A journey on one of the small trains of this heritage railway is a unique experience combining years of steam railway heritage with some of Kent's most picturesque countryside.

The natural starting place for a journey on the RH&DR is at its station in the historic and pretty town of Hythe. It’s one of six along the track, which stretches 13 miles across the picturesque Romney Marsh to Dungeness, one of the largest expanses of shingle in the world, a place of other-worldly beauty and a designated National Nature Reserve. 

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Battle of Britain Memorial
Maintained by the Battle of Britain Memorial Trust, the site at Capel-le-Ferne is dedicated to Churchill’s famous “Few” who fought in the skies overhead to keep this country free from invasion.

The Christopher Foxley-Norris Memorial Wall lists the names of all those who took part in the Battle of Britain, while a replica Spitfire and Hurricane stand nearby as a reminder of the iconic machines they flew to victory.  The Wing building was opened by the Queen and the Duke of Edinburgh in March 2015, offering a high-tech, multi-media Scramble Experience to give people a taste of what life was like to be one of the Few in 1940.

It also houses a shop and a first-floor cafe with stunning views over the Channel towards France.

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Howletts Wild Animal Park
Visitors to Howletts Wild Animal Park can witness world-leading conservation in action this year – all day, every day.  Howletts Wild Animal Park, Kent’s most successful and multi award winning animal park, offers visitors the chance to experience real conservation.

Howletts is a breeding sanctuary for some of the most rare and endangered species in the world. With over 300 animals across 47 individual species, plus plenty of new births and arrivals. Visitors have the opportunity to see real animals, real close and be part of real conservation in action.

Home to the world’s largest collection of critically endangered western lowland gorillas and the largest herd of African elephants in the UK, Howletts offers visitors the chance to get up close to Amur tigers, Northern Chinese leopards, lions and wolves in their glass fronted enclosures, and walk with lemurs as the Madagascan favourites explore the branches overhead. Discover and enjoy the prehistoric wonders of the Animals of The Ice Age through our woodland walk.

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Canoe Wild
Come to Canoe Wild for a fun and memorable experience on the River Stour! Whether you are looking for some fresh air or family fun, Canoe Wild is a great day out for everyone.

Canoeing is a gentle outdoor activity ideal for all abilities; families, beginners and groups are all welcome. No experience is required and we supply all the equipment you need with experienced and friendly coaches on hand. Come along and explore Kent’s rivers, experience stunning scenery, get close to wildlife and feel the benefits of escaping into the great outdoors!

Our Canadian canoes can seat 3 adults (or 2 adults and 2 children under 11). To get the most out of the experience we recommend 2 adults per canoe. Stand up paddleboards, single and double kayaks are also available to hire.

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Hever Castle
Spanning more than 700 years, the history of Hever Castle is rich and varied. The original medieval defensive castle, with its gatehouse and walled bailey, was built in 1270. In the 15th and 16th centuries it was the home of one of the most powerful families in the country, the Boleyns, who added the Tudor dwelling within the walls. The Castle was to become the childhood home of Anne Boleyn, King Henry VIII’s second wife, who became Queen of England for just 1,000 days.

Hever Castle is what every child wants a castle to be: crenellated, moated and haunted. The new permanent exhibition in the Long Gallery depicts the saga from the Wars of the Roses to the Reformation through its art collection. 

Click here to go to their website.

Kent Battle of Britain Museum Trust
An impressive collection of Battle of Britain artefacts recovered from more than 650 crashed aircraft.

Aircraft, vehicles, weapons, flying equipment, fine art prints and relics are on show in the museum on the historic airfield at Hawkinge. The original 1940s buildings are home to the largest collection of authentic Battle of Britain relics and memorabilia in the world.

Click here to go to their website.

Ashford Designer Outlet
McArthurGlen’s Ashford Designer Outlet is situated in the Heart of Kent, the Garden of England. Conveniently located just five minutes walk away from Ashford International train station and less than 30 minutes from Dover Port, it is the best place to find all the designer brands you love under one roof. Set in exceptional grounds and under a tented structure designed by Lord Richard Rogers, the architecture is worth the visit alone. There are around 1400 parking spaces offering free parking after 5pm.

The centre has over 70 of your favourite brands which include: Abercrombie & Fitch, Jack Wills, Bose, Calvin Klein, Fossil,  Fred Perry, Gap, Guess, Jaeger, Kurt Geiger, Lacoste, Lindt, Links of London, Molton Brown,  Nike, Phase Eight, Ted Baker, The Body Shop, Tommy Hilfiger, AllSaints, Kids Around and Radley all at up to 60% off the RRP.

Click here to go to their website.

Leeds Castle
Visitors never forget their first breathtaking vision of Leeds Castle in Kent, rising majestically from the moat as it has done for 900 years.

With 500 acres of beautiful parkland and formal gardens, daily activities, free flying falconry displays, spectacular events, special tours and year round attractions, Leeds Castle is one of the best days out in Kent, you will want to come back time and again!

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Wildwood Trust
Set in forty acres of ancient woodland, Wildwood, near Canterbury is a British wildlife park and conservation charity with a stunning collection of over 200 British animals in semi-natural enclosures, laid out around a twisting woodland trail.

A visit to Wildwood is an inspirational way to learn about the natural history of Britain by seeing our native wildlife, both past and present. See wolves, foxes, deer, badgers, owls, wild horses, lynx, beavers, wild cats, bison, squirrels, wild boar, otters and many more as you walk around the trails through our British ancient woodland.

Finish your day by letting your kids go wild in our large adventure play park featuring Kent’s tallest vertical drop slide, zip wire, wild fort, twisting tube slide and tree-top towers, there is also a special area for under-5’s.

Click here to go to their website.

Canterbury Historic River Tours
This multi award winning guided Historic River Tour provides a truly entertaining experience which is perfect for visitors of all ages and nationalities.

Guided Historic River Tours have been a favourite pastime for over 80 years and this Canterbury attraction allows you to escape the busy city centre and discover Canterbury from the unique perspective of the River Stour.

This Company are nationally and internationally renowned for their historic and humorous interpretation of the city’s fascinating history.

Click here to go to their website.

Biddenden Vineyards
Kent’s original vineyard, Biddenden was established by the Barnes family in 1969, celebrating its 50th anniversary in 2019. The vineyard has remained family owned and is today run by the second & third generation, drawing on many years of experience in winemaking at Biddenden. Eleven varieties of grapes are grown across 23 acres, producing award-winning white, red, rosé and sparkling English wines. Ortega, Biddenden’s signature wine, accounts for approximately half of the vineyards.

Visitors are welcome at the vineyard year-round and are free to walk the vineyards on a self-guided tour, or join an open tour which runs every Saturday from April to October, providing an excellent introduction to Biddenden. For a more personal experience, private tours are also available by prior arrangement.

The vineyard shop offers tastings of Biddenden’s wines, ciders & juices as well as stocking a wide selection of locally produced food & drink. Sharing platters are also available on a walk-in basis along with drinks by the glass or bottle to enjoy overlooking the vineyards.

Click here to go to their website.

Lydd Kart Circuit
Lydd Kart Circuit's 1040m, MSA-licensed track is the fastest for Go Karting in Kent and one of the fastest in the country. It is very popular with kart drivers, whether it be for the monthly non-MSA Race Meetings (racing on the second Sunday each month) or the increasingly successful Arrive 'n Drive sessions with the hire karts.

Karting is suitable for everyone, from kids as young as four years old (subject to height restrictions) through to bigger 'kids' up to 80+, as the hire Kart fleet ranges from Bambinos through to senior twin engined ProKarts. Prices start at just £20 for a quarter of an hour, with a wide range of group events available.

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The Observatory Science Centre
Enjoy an exciting range of hands-on science and discovery amongst the domes and telescopes of a former world famous observatory.

Our historic site is now a thriving science centre, with over 100 interactive exhibits, as well as Telescope Tours, Science Shows, Café, Gift Shop, Outdoor Discovery Park and water play areas.  Open Evenings including night sky viewing (weather permitting), Astronomy Courses, Workshops and many Special Events are also run throughout the year. Our aim is to make science spectacular and fun for everyone.

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The True CRIME Museum
A SHOCKING new attraction for everyone fascinated by the dark world of CRIME.

Set in 3,000 sq/ft of seafront caves, it is the largest collection of crime memorabilia in the UK and open daily from 10am – 5pm.

Suitable for all ages and with wheelchair access throughout, the museum presents a chilling but fascinating insight into the world of Serial Killers, Forensics, Gangsters, Prisoners, Poisoners and more!  See a GENUINE lethal injection deathbed, the ACTUAL acid containers used by John George Haigh to dissolve his victims. Guess the crimes of the celebrities from their police mug shots, then enter the Cinema Cave where infamous murderers describe their hideous deeds.

Click here to go to their website.

RSPB Dungeness Nature Reserve
Dungeness, the RSPB's oldest nature reserve, occupies nearly 1,000 hectares of the Dungeness peninsula: the largest shingle formation of its kind in Europe. The reserve is part of the Dungeness National Nature Reserve and a Site of Special Scientific Interest.

In winter, you can see hundreds of waterbirds on the lakes. In spring and autumn, migrating birds pass through on their way to their breeding grounds or winter homes. In spring and summer, there's plenty of other wildlife to spot too: from dazzling dragonflies and fluttering butterflies to croaking frogs and colourful wildflowers.

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Folkestone Voyager - Sea Angling & Boat Charter
We provide a wide range of sea angling and boat charter/boat hire trips including:

• Fishing for cod, bass and plaice
•Wreck and Varne sandbank fishing trips in the summer months
• Winter mark fishing for cod
• Boat hire for mackerel fishing trips by the hour
• Sightseeing trips to view the White Cliffs of Dover
• Pleasure trips with personal commentry on local history and attractions
• Information about ships and shipping movement in the English Channel

Click here to go to their website.

Hollywood Bowl, Ashford
Enjoy a great day out whether with friends or family, the eighteen lane bowling complex has a range of facilities including an amusement arcade and licensed bar. The relaxed and fun atmosphere is ideal for everyone with disabled facilities and many things for children to take part in.

Click here to go to their website.

The Stour Centre
Managed on behalf of Ashford Borough Council by Ashford Leisure Trust, the Stour Centre provides a comprehensive range of recreational and leisure services to meet the aspirations of a growing community.

The Stour Centre, Ashford is a modern leisure facility with three pools including two flumes, a raging river and other features.  If you want to get fit and toned there is a large gym with over 90 stations and a relaxing health spa.

Racquet sports are well-catered for with both squash and badminton courts and we also have a creche for the little ones and a cafe on site.

Click here to go to their website.

Escape Kent: Canterbury’s Biggest Escape Rooms
Our exhilarating and fully immersive games have been carefully designed to give the players a real sense of urgency, whilst setting the scene so you feel like you are in the middle of a Hollywood movie.

Themes range from being kidnapped by a serial killer, to stopping an alien invasion, with new games being developed all the time. Whichever you play the question remains the same – can you keep calm and escape before the time is up?

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Smugglers Adventure
Deep in the heart of Hastings West Hill lies the Smugglers Adventure, acres of caverns that conceal the thrilling history of smugglers, bootleggers and warring bloodthirsty gangs.

Explore the labyrinth of secret tunnels and passages and discover the dangers and hardships that faced the Sussex smugglers of the eighteenth century.  Join notorious smuggler ‘Hairy Jack’ as he leads you through the underground caverns, passages and tunnels on a voyage back through time to the heyday of smuggling.

More than 70 life-size characters, interactive displays, eerie lighting and sound effects and dramatic recreations bring this mysterious and often bloody world vividly to life.

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Bewl Water
The site is set in an area of outstanding natural beauty, in the heart of the High Weald. Bewl is open all year and offers a range of activities, including fishing, sailing, cycling and boating, trips on the Bewl Belle and an adventure playground. With two food outlets on the shoreline, a stunning Boat House Bistro and café, as well as ample parking facilities a visit to this stunning reservoir is a must.

Click here to go to their website.