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Westgate Gardens Canterbury: We visited Kent’s most beautiful park and it lived up to expectations

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Original article from Kent Live

Kent is certainly not short of stunning scenery and beautiful countryside – there's a reason why they call it the Garden of England.

Whether sandy beaches or culturally rich cities are more your cup of tea, Kent has something for everyone.

But what is Kent's most beautiful spot?

Read more:30 magical Kent towns and villages so beautiful they should be in a fairytale

Well according to Tripadvisor, Westgate Gardens in Canterbury is one of the most stunning places to visit in the county.

Its been rated as number one out of Canterbury's parks and gardens, which is very promising given there's a fair few.

Westgate Gardens is located in north-west Canterbury

The gardens are part of the wider collection of Westgate Parks in north-west Canterbury, which are made up of four distinct areas: Westgate Gardens, Tannery Field, Toddler's Cove and Bingley Island Local Nature Reserve.

The historic landmark Westgate Towers sits next to the parks – the medieval gatehouse stands at 60 feet tall and is the largest surviving city gate in England.

Reviewers have described the landscaped Westgate Gardens as a "perfect picnic spot", a "piece of paradise in Canterbury" and even went as far as to say they "wept at the first glimpse of the sheer beauty".

The park has been praised for its pretty gardens, well-kept flowerbeds, accessibility for the less able, and useful amenities, including a tea shop which serves scones and light bites.

Easy to locate

The gardens were easy to locate, just a short walk from Canterbury West station, which is useful for anyone travelling in from further afield.

I'd actually passed the park several times before but hadn't stepped foot inside it as I didn't think there was much beyond the initial flowerbeds you can see from the road.

The flowerbeds are a haven for wildlife

I could see straight away why previous visitors had praised the park for its stunning array of plants – row upon row of vibrant flowers line the River Stour, which passes through the centre of the park.

And the Stour itself is a beautiful sight to behold, with crystal clear water that almost looks tempting enough to bathe in on a hot day.

But it's clear the park isn't just pretty to look at – it's also a haven for wildlife, which was was evidenced by the number of bees and butterflies flying around the area.

Other people clearly had the same idea as me and were out to make the most of the September heatwave, as Westgate Gardens was relatively busy when I visited.

But it didn't feel overcrowded and visitors were mostly quiet as they took in their surroundings, adding to the air of peace about the park.

Quaint buildings run parallel to the river

It was refreshing to see a wide range of ages enjoying the gardens, with elderly couples, young families and university students milling around.

Peaceful

I even noticed one girl sat filling in a diary and another couple studying together – the peaceful atmosphere of Westgate Gardens is the perfect location to unwind and gather your thoughts.

The greenery isn't the only thing the park has to offer either – quaint buildings run parallel to the River Stour, which provide a picturesque backdrop to the gardens.

As I walked further into the gardens I realised quite how extensive they are.

There is a huge open space in the park with stunning flowerbeds

The path gradually expands and leads into an open space to the left of the River Stour, which was mostly occupied by people enjoying picnics in the sun.

It wasn't hard to see why TripAdvisor users had suggested it as a picnic spot – the stunning views, combined with the neat, freshly mown grass, make it a comfortable spot to relax for a bite to eat.

But it's not the end of the world if you forget your picnic either, as the Tower Tea Rooms in Westgate Gardens offer refreshments for those passing through.

The river runs crystal clear

Unfortunately the tearoom was shut today, as there was a private function, so I didn't get to test out their famous scones.

Despite being a favourite spot for picnicking, there wasn't a speck of rubbish in sight – the city and its residents clearly take pride in the beautiful gardens, treating them with the respect they deserve.

This is encouraged by a plaque dictating the "The Piran Declaration", which reads: "Walled Towns are unique inheritances from times long past and should be treasured, maintained and safeguarded from neglect and destruction and passed on into perpetuity as irreplaceable time stones of history."

The note was penned in 1998 and the plaque was instated ten years later as a reminder to residents and visitors alike of the cultural value of the city.

Westgate Gardens is a hidden gem in Canterbury

Westgate Gardens are the perfect place to sit and admire nature come rain or shine – the only thing I regretted about my trip was that I didn't have more time to explore the gardens.

There is plenty more to see and do in the parks, including spotting the Tannery field bull sculpture as part of the Canterbury Sculpture Trail, breaking a sweat in the adult fitness area, or taking a trip down the River Stour on the popular punting trips.

Original Article