Dynamic Ashford is alive with aspirations - and is achieving them too.  International rail links ensure a cosmopolitan vibe; a well-preserved past adds intriguing appeal.

Ashford is just 38 minutes from London by train; Paris and Brussels are less than a two-hour rail ride away.  So you can rejoice in this bustling town's cool contemporary feel.  Bag big-brand bargains at the Ashford Designer Outlet, browse top-name high street stores at County Square shopping Centre, then chill out in a welcoming cafe.

There's cutting-edge culture on offer too.  ShivaNova brings pulsating world-music to town.  At exquisitely restored St. Mary the Virgin Church, Revelation St. Mary's performances include acclaimed acoustic sets.

Nearby, eco-themed Stour Valley Arts pioneers ultra-modern installations in ancient Kings Wood; it has an in-town gallery too.

This forward-thinking town is pioneering a 'shared-space'; visit to see how pedestrians, cyclists and motorists can exist happily, side-by side.  The Ashford Green Corridor brings soothing nature reserves to the heart of town.

Superb eateries abound; Ashford Bowling offers the ultimate 10-pin experience.  Eureka Entertainment adds a high-tech multiplex, while local accommodation notches up the accolades - there's everything from a facility-packed, five-star caravan park, to a luxury four-star hotel with its own super-swish spa.

And amid all these bursts of the new, Ashford proudly preserves a still-vibrant past.  In Middle Row medieval, Georgian and Jacobean buildings flank narrow alleys; weather-boarded cottages frame a historic church.  Heritage comes to life at Ashford Borough Museum; see centuries-old graffiti and evocative railway exhibits, including a ticket office, tools and speeding model trains.

On Ashford's fringes, don't miss Godinton House & Gardens, one of Kent's finest historic estates.  Here wander wood-panelled rooms, replete with antiques, then relax and recharge in grand grounds where clipped hedges fringe deep-green lawns and sweeps of spring and summer blooms.

Nearby sits picture-perfect, still-working Willesborough Windmill, offering an enthralling insight into our pre-electricity past, and home-baked cakes too.

Tenterden                                                     Rural Charm


Historic Houses and Gardens                Where to Stay