With all of the time spent inside over the past year and a half, one of the things I’ve really tried to make the most of is Canterbury’s city parks. The majority of living accommodation in the city centre is either small houses or apartment blocks and if you live in the latter you rarely have access to private outdoor space. With various public parks just a stone’s throw from most of the apartment buildings in the city, flat residents don’t miss out too much here in Canterbury. The parks are also sights of interest for tourists visiting the city, providing them with lots of space to wander and enjoy a picnic. From the beautiful blooms in Westgate Gardens to the spectacular view of Canterbury Cathedral seen from the Abbots Mill Garden, visitors are spoilt for choice for outdoor space when exploring Canterbury.
A tranquil spot beside the Westgate Towers medieval gateway, Westgate Gardens (part of the larger Westgate Parks area) is the best place to watch the seasons change in the city. From the pastel tulips in the Spring to the falling of the leaves in the Autumn, the gardens change dramatically as the year goes on. It is this changing landscape that makes the park so interesting to visitors. No visit is ever the same and you may even stumble across events in the park such as weddings or outdoor theatre. Combined with the regular punting tours that pass through in peak season, Westgate Gardens is always full of life. Open from dawn until dusk most days except certain bank holidays, the gardens should be top of your list when exploring Canterbury’s city parks.
Dane John Gardens
Dane John Gardens is the largest of the town parks and it can be found at the top end of Canterbury’s main shopping street. Featuring a bandstand, plenty of benches and a refreshment kiosk, it’s a really popular outdoor space with locals and tourists. Bursting with vibrant flowers this Summer, it’s an ideal spot for a picnic with friends on a sunny day. Earlier this year the cafe in the gardens ‘Don Juan’ was providing drinks for post-lockdown catch ups with friends. The park has been a thriving part of the city this past year and I hope the trend continues with the return of Canterbury’s annual Food and Drink Festival in September.
Abbots Mill Garden
I recently covered the Abbots Mill Garden in my piece about punting in the city, but this hidden gem of a park is home to one of the best ‘free’ Cathedral views in the city. Located on the banks of the River Stour behind The Marlowe Theatre, the garden features a unique bridge, the former water mill infrastructure and plenty of lawn area to sit on. Quite a bit smaller than the other parks, you can easily sit for hours in Abbots Mill Garden with a book, watching the punting boats go by and taking in the spectacular views of the Cathedral and River Stour.
Alternatively with the park’s city centre location, you can always order takeout from a nearby eatery and take your food to the park for a picnic. I actually did this recently with friends, picking up mac ‘n’ cheese and pork snacks from the ever popular Pork & Co. restaurant in the city. We were comfortable sitting in the park for a couple of hours, enjoying the evening sunshine.
Canterbury is a city that can be easily explored without a car and visitors have lots of options for green space in and around the city walls. Westgate Gardens and Abbots Mill Garden are actually only about 5 minutes apart on foot and Dane John Gardens is approximately 10 minutes further on. Covering all three parks in one day is definitely possible, with how close they are to each other. I feel very fortunate to live in a city with so many parks and gardens.
Thanks for reading my blog today.
Love Kat xxxx