We asked for photos of your favourite hidden gems around south-east London, East Sussex and Kent, and you sent us all your weird and wonderful ideas for our competition with Southeastern. Thank you!
Here are just a few of our 15 shortlisted finalists – pick your favourite and help us choose a winner. Go to our voting page, see the whole gallery and make your mark by August 5 and you could win weekend passes for travel on the Southeastern network. (Terms and conditions apply, of course.)
Here are ten great things you taught us…
1. JMW Turner was so right about the light on the North Kent coast.
This photo was caught on an evening along the seafront in Whitstable, one of Kent’s most funky coastal towns and a great place to start a coast walk.
2. There are over a thousand skulls and a vast stack of bones at St Leonard’s Church in Hythe.
Just £1 gets you into the crypt at St Leonard’s to gaze upon the largest collection of ancient human bones and skulls in Britain. More fascinating and mysterious than anything you’ll see on a goth stall in Camden.
3. Once upon a time London had a Sheriff who had the good taste to build an Italianate Glasshouse at East Cliff Lodge.
It was Sir Moses Montefiore (no less) who built the beautiful Italianate Glasshouse in what is now King George VI Memorial Park and you can enjoy tea here, Tuesday to Sunday, until September.
4. We don’t need global warming for Africa to come to Kent, we’ll just enjoy Port Lympne Reserve, thanks.
Set in rolling Kent countryside, the Aspinal Foundation’s wildlife reserve gives you a chance to get on board a big safari jeep and get up close to the noble beasts of Africa and Asia. You can stay over too, at their luxurious hotel or one of their glamping lodges.
5. … and we’ll happily swap Venice for Canterbury.
Just a couple of minutes’ walk from the bustle of this cathedral city’s centre, you can be gliding along the River Stour in a punt. Nice.
6. In fact, England even has its own, splendid Botany Bay.
So dubbed because hundred of years ago this beautiful beach was a setting for smuggling and its perpetrators were shipped off to Aus. Now Botany Bay is a rather more pleasant treasure, great for chilling out on the sand, walking and water sports.
7. Crocheted placemats are alive, well and looking chic in Rosebud Vintage Tearoom, Charing.
From Michelin-starred pub grub to gourmet pizzas, Kent diners are not short of great foodie experiences. The Rosebud is a perfect stop-off on a day’s adventure around the South East, with so many amazing cakes to choose from we’d swear they’ve got half the WI in that kitchen of theirs.
8. Ramsgate is romantic. Who knew?
It’s not all ferries and seagulls on the farthest fringes of the South East – Ramsgate marina is one of the prettiest in the country, and a waterfront bustling with cafés and restaurants. Fancy dinner for two with a sea view at eight?
9. Halloween, schmalloween – bonfire night in Battle is a seriously dressy affair.
Just north of Hastings, the small town of Battle goes all out when it comes to November 5. With costumes and parades, Battel Bonfire Night is a tradition that takes all year and a lot of community spirit to organise. It’s worth it for one of the most dazzling autumn nights you’ll see anywhere.
10. And when it’s time for Christmas shopping without the crowds, we’re going to Whitstable.
Whitstable has definitely had a gentrification boom in the last two decades, but there’s still a place for normal Kentish life, too – butchers and charity shops still stand alongside artisan coffee shops. For quirky knick-knacks, boutiques and homewares, head for Harbour Street. An hour’s wander along here and you’ll have your gift list checked off in time for a leisurely pint at the Duke of Cumberland.