Summer’s always a busy time in the capital, and sometimes you want to do nothing more than just get away from the hustle and bustle and escape the crowds. What could be better then than a trip to the smallest town in the UK? Named Fordwich, it’s a picturesque and ancient port set on the River Great Stour, just two miles downstream from the City of Canterbury in Kent.
There’s a population of just 381 people who reside here, so you can see why it’s earned the title of being the ‘smallest town in the UK’. There’s no fighting over public transport or for a pint at the pub here, so it’s a pretty charming we feel it has to be said.
The History of Fordwich
Though Fordwich itself has links to the times of the Romans and the Vikings, it was first established as a town back in 1184 AD, when King Henry II granted it a Merchant Guild Charter, reflecting its importance as the de facto port for Canterbury.
All of the stone used to rebuild Canterbury’s cathedral back in the 12th and 13th centuries was actually landed here after it was brought over from France, and it then became a part of the ‘Cinque Ports’ – a series of channel ports formed to furnish ships and men for the King’s service.
It actually lost its status as a town back in 1884, when it no longer had a designated mayor, though it regained its title back in 1972 and has been attracting punters looking for the UK’s smallest town ever since!
What’s there to do in Fordwich?
Even though there’s under 400 people living here, there’s more than enough to keep you occupied for the day at Fordwich. You could enjoy an amble down the scenic Stour Valley Walk – whose route covers 58 miles’ worth of track through woodland, meadows, marshland and fruit orchards too.
Or you could enjoy a paddle down the Great Stour River with ‘Canoe Wild’ – a company who rent kayaks and canoes out for around £25 per two people. This is a lovely way to spend an hour or two, and you may be able to spot wildlife including herons and kingfishers along the way.
If history’s more your thing, then don’t miss out on paying the Town Hall a visit. Constructed back in 1544, it’s the ‘smallest and oldest town hall still in operation in England’, and is open at various different times during the summer months.
And if you’re looking for a tipple or two, then there are two different boozers for you to whet your whistle here. The first of these, The Fordwich Arms, bagged itself a Michelin Star back in 2018, and it has found itself in the list of the ‘100 Best Restaurants in the UK’ too on more than one occasion.
Another option is The George & Dragon, which dates all the way back to the 1500’s and has cosy seating, an excellent selection of cask ales and pub grub, and a lovely beer garden out back overlooking the Stour.
How to get to Fordwich?
If you’re bringing a set of wheels, then it should take around 75 to 90 minutes to get here – depending where you’re coming from in town and on the traffic conditions of course.
Alternatively, if you’d rather come here via train, then you’re best hopping aboard at King’s Cross and then changing at Ashford. The journey should take around 90 minutes and cost about 40 quid give or take.
So if you’re looking for your next day trip outta the capital, then why not head to the smallest town in the UK? With scenic country walks, history galore and a couple of pubs to keep you fed and watered – what’s not to love!?