When the Romans abandoned Britain in AD 409, it was the Saxons who finally rose to rule amongst the motley invading hordes. So this ancient 153-mile walking route from Gravesend in north Kent to Hastings in East Sussex takes their name.
It's a stretch of land that rings with history. Here Julius Caesar began the Romans' first exploration of Ancient Britain. Here St Augustine landed to bring Christianity to the Anglo-Saxons as the first Archbishop of Canterbury. Here remain 45 of the Martello towers built quickly within three years from 1805 to 1808 to repel the advances of Bonaparte's forces during the Napoleonic Wars.
The Saxon Shore Way footpath follows the coastline exactly as it was in Roman times, before the reclamation of tracts of land from Folkestone to Romney Marsh and Rye. Opened in 1980, it passes through two Areas of Outstanding Natural Beauty, several Nature Reserves and Sites of Special Scientific Interest. For bird-watchers, there's a veritable compendium of estuary breeds such as waders and grebes, peregrines too. For walkers, beside other cliff-top highlights, the White Cliffs of Dover stand emblematically at the very edge of a country.
For the marginally less energetic, drivers and cyclists with gears will find the road network tracking the Saxon Way east brings them through towns with their own fascination. Faversham has over 300 listed buildings and was the nation's explosives hub during the troubles with Napoleon. Barrels of a different sort have been filled here since 1698 – by Britain's oldest brewer, Shepherd Neame. Whitstable has been famous for oysters for centuries and more recently as a bolthole for creative types from London. Deal Castle was crucial to Henry VIII's coastal defences, its cobbled streets home to fishermen's cottages and a groaning plethora of antiques shops.
Nearer to home, as the Saxon Shore Way winds south it crosses directly through four of Gusbourne's vineyards – including Boot Hill and Commanders, the two nearest to our tasting room and cellar door, The Nest, and part of our guided tours.
Gusbourne has been making wine here only since 2004. It's nice to have a little atmospheric history around us to add to the mix.
Come visit us at Gusbourne. Book one of our guided vineyard tours or just pop in for a self-guided tour – no booking required. And make sure to spend some time exploring more of our beautiful corner of Kent.
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