Level: Blue – Moderate
Gravel/CX/MTB | GPX Bike packing Route | Cycle paths & trails | 117km/73miles
Whitstable to Rye or estuary to channel across Kent’s North Downs. It’s a ride of contrasts, starting in regenerated Whitstable with its shingle beach and oysters, the route travels via Canterbury with its inspiring cathedral and the sight of the Thomas Becket murder of 1170.
Following the Stour Valley before launching southwest across the lumpy North Downs heading towards the Romney Marsh and the English Channel. Ride along the seawall towards the windswept beautiful Dungeness with its acres of shingle, lighthouse and sodding great nuclear power station.
Don’t underestimate the last 15 miles, the bridleways are lonely and underused across the Welland Marsh, bleak, empty and quite the right way to get to medieval Rye.
Although the route can be ridden by stronger riders in a day, there’s a load to see and visit and would make a perfect weekend away.
Although the route starts at Whitstable Station, it’s worth spending a half hour riding through the cramped Victorian streets and checking out the beach and fishing port.
Pick up National Cycle Route (NCR) 1 way marked the ‘Crab and Winkle Way’ the nickname of the old railway line the route largely follows towards Canterbury. If you want to visit the medieval city and cathedral, keep on NCR1 (when you leave, exit the city along the River Stour and you’ll rejoin the route) otherwise the GPX will lead you around the city through the woods before dropping into the Stour Valley.
At Wye the route turns to loosely follow the North Downs Way, there are some splendid views across the Romney Marsh before descending a steep bank to Saltwood Castle. Ride through the zoo at Port Lympne, where, if you’re lucky you’ll see giraffes poking their heads above the hedges.
No more hills now, the route leads you along the sea wall past Dymchurch, see the views of the sandy beaches that inspired painter Paul Nash’s ‘The Wall’. Gradually sand makes way for shingle and the humungous power station at the tip of Dungeness gradually gets closer.
The GPX will lead you on a detour to the lighthouse at the tip of Dungeness where there's some good sea swimming to be had.
Backtracking slightly, heading towards Lydd the route across the RSPB sanctuary and skirts the army ranges as it heads across the lonely Welland Marsh, finally entering Rye on the route of the old tramway.
Thanks to Action Cycles in Ashford for creating parts of this route.
Start and End Points
- Distance: 117km | 73 miles
- Climb: 1250m | 4100 ft
- Percentage off-road: 60%
- Trail surface: Natural |Gravel |Woodland Single Track | Cycle path
- Mudometer: medium with some muddy patches in wet weather
Places to visit
6 miles: Canterbury
Places to eat
20 miles: Tickled Trout Wye
Places to stay
Free camp on the d North Down before Saltwood
Mile 36: Leave the route here for Folkestone where there’s a wide range of accommodation options
Is this ride for me?
Ideal for riders with some off-road experience and reasonable fitness
Is my bike OK for this ride?
Recommend using a MTB or other Gravel/CX bike.