Beautiful beaches, a wealth of castles and stately homes, an abundance of cultural activities and more than 4,000 miles of exhilarating walking and cycling trails make the ‘Garden of England’ a wonderful place to retire. Kent is less than an hour from London by train and offers superfast links to Europe, so it’s a great retirement location for anyone who loves to travel.
If you’ve retired – or are thinking of retiring – to Kent, you’ll have a host of castles and historic houses almost on the doorstep. Leeds Castle, near Maidstone, is said to be one of the most beautiful castles in England with its formal gardens, vineyard, woodland and birds of prey – but 13th century moated Hever Castle, once home to Anne Boleyn, is a special place with a beautiful lake, Italianate gardens and waterside walks. Ightham Mote, built almost 700 years ago, and tucked away in a country location near Sevenoaks, is a hidden gem with a graceful garden and woodland walks. Penshurst Place & Gardens, near Tonbridge, is a wonderful place to spend a day and, to explore England’s maritime history, you’ll find plenty of castles and museums in towns such as Dover, Chatham and Rye. Elegant Royal Tunbridge Wells has a fascinating history and beautiful architecture – and is home to the Assembly Rooms theatre and Trinity Theatre & Arts Centre.
Make the most of your retirement in this beautiful area by exploring the countryside of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. With an abundance of Commons, open countryside, undulating hills, orchards and woodland, this area offers some of the most outstanding landscape in the country and there’s a choice of longer walks and scenic strolls. The Tunbridge Wells Circular Walk is one of the best known local walks, taking in Southborough, Pembury, Frant, Groombridge and Speldhurst and a host of natural history, archaeological and historical sites. You don’t have to tackle the full length of this 27 ½ mile trail. The walk has been designed to incorporate a number of shorter walks – each fully waymarked and starting in the town centre.
One of the county’s most popular places to shop is Bluewater – with over 300 stores and 50 bars, restaurants and cafes. The 90 boutique stores at Ashford Designer Outlet enjoys a beautifully landscaped setting and offers plenty of cafes and restaurants. Tunbridge Wells is a wonderful place to shop – head to the modern Royal Victoria Place shopping centre or the award-winning, historic Pantiles, a charming open-air promenade surrounded by elegant Georgian buildings. Here, you’ll find individual designer boutiques, café-bars and restaurants. Linking Tunbridge Wells High Street to The Pantiles is Chapel Place, full of independent and specialist shops selling homewares, antiquarian books and jewellery. In retirement, you’ll have more time to browse – and relax.