Treehouses near Chatham with campfires

White-chalk cliffs, pebble beaches and undulating hills frame this seafaring Kent town.

100% (12 reviews)
100% (12 reviews)

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Treehouses near Chatham with campfires guide

Overview

Famed for its incomparable 18th-century dockyard and important maritime history, Chatham sits near the Medway Estuary, surrounded by bewitching southeast-England countryside and coast. Rock climbing, hiking, biking, kayaking, horse riding and paragliding are just a few of the local temptations for outdoorsy types, while the buzzy Kent coast serves up water sports, boho-feel towns and cliff-edge paths. Campers of all kinds are spoiled here, with everything from isolated farms for setting up tents to luxury glamping pods attached to lively pubs.

Where to go

Kent Downs AONB

Within a 30-minute drive of Chatham, the Kent Downs AONB makes an idyllic, on-the-doorstep escape for outdoors lovers. Pick from glamping yurts, cabins and huts, or just set up your tent or caravan at a deliciously rural campsite, before exploring miles of designated walking paths through ancient woodlands and farmed landscapes. There’s also wonderful horse riding and cycling, not to mention arty Folkestone by the beach.

High Weald AONB

Whether you’re keen to cycle, hike, kayak, paddle-board or splash about in a lake, this 1500-sq-km AONB is just the ticket. The High Weald spreads across Sussex, Surrey and Kent, and is easily accessible from Tunbridge Wells, an hour’s drive southwest of Chatham. The area is known for its cobblestone villages, wide-open heaths, secluded farms and age-old paths, all of which you can explore from countryside campsites, glamping yurts and huts tucked into organic farms, and fully-equipped caravan parks.

Coastal Kent & Sussex

Kent’s pretty coastline stretches east from Chatham to trendy Margate, then south past Dover’s famous white-chalk cliffs. Beyond, Sussex hugs England’s south coast, with more spectacular scenery, especially around the unmissable Seven Sisters cliffs and Beachy Head. There are terrific walks all along the coast here, including the long-distance England Coast Path, and water sports and view-drenched campsites abound.

South Downs

Extending inland from Eastbourne on the Sussex coast and within two hours’ drive of Chatham, the South Downs National Park is one of southeast England’s back-to-nature jewels. Rippling chalk hills, endless sea views and gorgeously green fields patrolled by chatty sheep provide the backdrop for outstanding hiking (tackle some of the 160 km South Downs Way). You can also go cycling, horse riding and even paragliding, before pitching up on a remote farm or settling into a safari-style glamping tent in a hidden valley.

When to go

England’s southeast gets packed in warmer July and August (and over bank holiday weekends in spring), and you’ll need to book camping spots and glamping accommodation far ahead, especially along the coast. Spring can be a rewarding time to explore, with the countryside bursting into bloom before the summer masses arrive, and weekdays year-round see fewer crowds. If you aren’t fussed about the weather, autumn brings both changing colours and low-season prices.

Know before you go

  • Wild camping is generally illegal in England, but you’ll find plenty of campsites with secluded pockets in this region, and you can request landowner permission to set up camp elsewhere. 
  • Chatham is an easy hop by train from London (under an hour) and has good rail links with Margate, Ramsgate, Dover and other coastal towns as well as Canterbury. 
  • Don’t miss the chance to explore nearby Canterbury’s UNESCO-listed cathedral, one of the southeast’s greatest attractions. 
  • Chatham has plenty of shops for stocking up on outdoors gear, camping kit and food supplies.

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