New Long Distance Cycling Route: The Cantii Way

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Nothing to do with brakes, Cycling UK is launching the Cantii Way: a new long-distance cycling route in Kent taking people cycling through the diverse scenery and history of the ‘Garden of England’. If you’re down south and keen to find some new quiet and traffic free routes to ride, it looks like it’ll be worth checking out – even if you’ve no desire to ride the entire route. Here’s the official press release:

The Cantii Way is a 145-mile (234 km) route beginning and ending in the village of Wye, close to Ashford in Kent. It is designed to be a perfect introduction to multi-day cycling and can be ridden in one go over three to four days as it passes through Canterbury, Whitstable, Folkestone, Dover and Dungeness. With regular train stations along its length it can also easily be split up over several weekends.  

The Cantii were an Iron Age Celtic tribe that Julius Caesar encountered on his abortive conquest of England in 54 BCE. The famous Roman described the Cantii as “the most civilised” of the British tribes; it is from them that both the county of Kent and city of Canterbury derive their names. 

Sophie Gordon, Cycling UK’s campaigns officer behind the creation of the Cantii Way said:  

“The Cantii Way is a perfect introduction to the wonders of cycling around Kent, and is ideal for those looking to try cycle tourism for the first time. It’s not just great for beginners though, Kent is rich in history, rich in culture and rich in cuisine – it’s a perfect location for cycling, and the Cantii Way gives you the very best of the Garden of England.”

26 May was chosen as the ideal launch date for the route as it is ‘Kent Day’: an annual celebration of the ancient county. It also holds historical significance for the county, as it was on this day in 1940, that the flotilla of little ships set sail from Ramsgate to rescue the Allied soldiers trapped on the beaches of Dunkirk.

The launching of the route has also been chosen to honour the Platinum Jubilee of Cycling UK patron, Queen Elizabeth II and its length makes it ideal for riding over the long Jubilee weekend.

Riders who choose to explore the route in this jubilee year will also be celebrating a significant milestone for the Wye Crown, which sits just a few miles into the route. First constructed in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII, it now also plays host to a stone honouring Queen Elizabeth II’s Golden Jubilee.

Using a combination of quiet ways, country lanes, byways and bridleways the route is designed to be manageable by anyone of reasonable fitness on most types of bike. Making use of part of the North Downs Way Riders’ Route that Cycling UK launched in 2018 in collaboration with Kent Downs AONB, the Cantii Way takes riders deep into Kent’s rich history, vibrant modern culture and natural beauty.  

The route is also designed to open up the ‘Garden of England’ to the cycling traveller. As they pass through well-known destinations  there are plenty of opportunities to make the most of the local produce available, with the orchards, vineyards, hop-drying oast houses and local farms making the Cantii Way equal parts culinary and cycling tour. 

 As part of its role in the European Regional Development Fund’s EXPERIENCE project which is operating in Kent, Cornwall and Norfolk as well as three other regions in France, Cycling UK has worked for the past two years on the Cantii Way. During its development the charity has spoken with the council, Kent Downs AONB, landowners, local businesses and cyclists to link together a route that shows off the best of Kent.  

 “Cycling UK wanted to leave a lasting legacy this Jubilee for our patron the Queen, that wouldn’t just be fun to ride, but would also bring real benefit to the local rural economy,” added Sophie Gordon. “The people cycling through Kent’s network of paths and quiet ways will quite literally be fuelling themselves from the local shops, pubs and tea rooms they pass through, and many of these will be off the beaten track.” 

Cycle tourism spending from cyclists in the UK generates £520m per year. There are 1.23 million overnight trips each year, benefiting small businesses in particular, and these contribute £433m to the economy. A survey of riders of King Alfred’s Way, a route starting in Winchester that the charity launched in 2020, shows on average every cyclist spends £83.60 per day on food and accommodation. 

In preparation of the expected increase in cycling over the summer, the charity is already working with the hospitality and accommodation sectors in Kent. Cycling UK is providing businesses with free equipment bundles worth up to £400 and advice as part of its Cycle Friendly Places initiative. 

The new routes sit within Cycling UK’s wider goal to see the creation of a network of long-distance off-road routes across the length and breadth of Great Britain, taking in its amazing places and wild landscapes.  

The Cantii Way is the fifth long distance cycling route Cycling UK has launched since its riders’ route for the North Downs Way was unveiled in 2018. A sixth route will be launched at the end of summer in Norfolk.  

In 2019, the charity launched the 800-mile Great North Trail which starts in the Peak District and finishes in either Cape Wrath or John o’ Groats. This was followed by King Alfred’s Way in 2020, a 220-mile loop route from Winchester that travels through 10,000 years’ worth of history in the south of England and ancient Saxon kingdom of Wessex, and last year saw the launch of the 150-mile West Kernow Way in Cornwall. 

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Viewing 23 posts - 1 through 23 (of 23 total)
  • New Long Distance Cycling Route: The Cantii Way
  • Premier Icon tenfoot
    Full Member

    Been looking forward to the release of the route details.

    Need to get organised and give it a go.

    Premier Icon Keith Lilley
    Free Member

    good for Kent but yet another route for the south of England what with KAW and Kernow, would be good to see a focus elsewhere too in other parts of the UK by Cycling UK…

    Premier Icon James
    Full Member

    Kent bike touring is great for apple scrumping. Rode down to the ferry at Dover a few times fuelled purely on fruit!

    Premier Icon cloggy
    Full Member

    Looks like another gravel route

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    I’ve done the bit from Wye to Whitstable, although took a slightly different route just north of Wye (pilgrims cycleway), but did the same crab & winkle way between Canterbury & Whitstable. Really nice gravel route, and you can link it up with the pilgrims way all the way to north of Sevenoaks (it gets a bit interrupted & spread out after that) for a proper long distance route.

    Premier Icon IHN
    Full Member

    would be good to see a focus elsewhere too in other parts of the UK by Cycling UK…

    Cycling UK is, pretty much, a volunteer-led organisation, so maybe you should get involved

    Premier Icon ampthill
    Full Member

    Isn’t the 800 mile great north trail in the north?

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    Going to be riding the Cantii Way this Saturday / Sunday (after a fnrttc so might be a bit slow) starting from Ashford, with an overnight stop in Dover.

    Weather looks good – have already packed sunscreen 🙂

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    Going to be riding the Cantii Way this Saturday / Sunday (after a fnrttc so might be a bit slow) starting from Ashford, with an overnight stop in Dover.

    Weather looks good – have already packed sunscreen

    Think I’m going to ride the Wye to Whitstable section (& back) tomorrow 👍 I’m know it’s a nice section with primarily gravel, the rest of the route looks mainly road though.

    Premier Icon molgrips
    Full Member

    Ooh, another decent looking one-day challenge for southern Britain. Might give it a try.

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    the rest of the route looks mainly road though.

    Hmmm… worried about tyre choice now 🙂

    Think I’ll stick with the gravel tyres and accept a bit of road slowness.

    Premier Icon benjim
    Full Member

    Isn’t the 800 mile great north trail in the north?

    I had no idea about this, I knew about the PBW, but didn’t know about the extension, thanks for the info!

    Premier Icon tenfoot
    Full Member

    Going to be riding the Cantii Way this Saturday / Sunday (after a fnrttc so might be a bit slow) starting from Ashford, with an overnight stop in Dover.

    I’d be keen to know how you get on. I’ve suggested it would make a good sponsored ride at work.

    Premier Icon tenfoot
    Full Member

    good for Kent but yet another route for the south of England

    To be fair, there’s naff all else going on down here in Kent. No decent trail centres, although a few good (cheeky) trails up in the North Downs, so it’s nice to have something developed that’s vaguely off road for people to follow.

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    Ooh, another decent looking one-day challenge for southern Britain. Might give it a try.

    That’s one hell of a one dayer, 234km it is.

    Although for a proper challenge you could add on the 68km from Otford to Wye along the pilgrims way. And back again if you were really masochistic. 370km total.

    Premier Icon James
    Full Member

    so it’s nice to have something developed that’s vaguely off road for people to follow.

    AFAIK there’s nothing new here? It looks very similar to a 100-mile loop, mostly off-road, around the coast I’ve done a few times over the years (except I went straight from New Romney to Ashford missing out the south-west portion). So I’m not really sure what this is about, apart from spelling out a route which is pretty obvious (there aren’t that many options if you want to avoid the roads) if you actually sit down with a map!

    A mate did it over 2 days recently, said it was ok 😃

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    I think it’s aimed primarily at leisure cyclists, and yeah you could plan a similar route yourself but it’s a big old route and a good part of it isn’t as obvious as the coastal bits, or pilgrims way so definitely not as easy to plan out.

    It should also bring a bit of tourism money to the local places, there’s plenty of watering holes/ice cream stops along the way.

    Premier Icon tenfoot
    Full Member

    As Paul says ^^^.

    I’ve ridden a fair proportion of it too (Viking Trail), in the past, but it’s nice to have something that’s tried and tested rather than plan something myself and find it’s not suitable for gravel bikes, for instance.

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    Or is a head high nettle nightmare disguised as a “byway”…

    PXL_20220602_124932280

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    I’d be keen to know how you get on. I’ve suggested it would make a good sponsored ride at work.

    It’s definitely more road than gravel, and a lot of (tbf pretty decent) Sustrans like infrastructure.

    I was glad of the chunky tyres (45 g-one bite) in a few sections but you wouldn’t feel under-tyred on fatter road tyres across most of it. Probably with the exception of the north downs bit just after Wye which is a bit sketchy in spots.

    Felt like I rushed round in two days, still stopped to take some pics but would have lingered a bit longer if I wasn’t under time pressure of a weekend (e.g. I skipped the Winchelsea loop)

    Or is a head high nettle nightmare disguised as a “byway”…

    NCN 2 from Camber Sands to Rye needs somebody to head down with a strimmer in a few spots!

    Premier Icon Paul
    Full Member

    Probably with the exception of the north downs bit just after Wye which is a bit sketchy in spots.

    Yeah that section I thought was quite rough for what the route is aimed at, a typical flinty rutted north downs descent!

    What was the rest of the route like? The Wye to Whitstable section is decent, is it more of the same?

    Premier Icon jimdubleyou
    Full Member

    Yup more of the same, bit of urban cycle path, bit of road, bit of sustrans packed gravel, fair bit of sea wall/esplanade.

    Try and do it without 25kmh South westerly headwinds along the coast if you can 😜

    Premier Icon neil the wheel
    Full Member

    All these recent Cycling UK routes have EU funding behind them. I wonder what will replace that?

Viewing 23 posts - 1 through 23 (of 23 total)

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