Riverside Walk

There are more walking routes for all tastes, whether it be along the coast, deep in the country or around the city.

See our plans for new cycling routes in the area

Canterbury's Riverside Network

Canterbury has shaped and been shaped by the River Stour, which for centuries has flowed through the centre of the city. The city probably owes its location to the presence of the river and the sheltered river valley setting.

The early settlement of Canterbury developed around a major river crossing point. In Roman and Medieval times the river provided a defensive barrier; a source of drinking and washing water; a source of fresh food; a sewer and a source of power. This last attribute explains why the course of the river is divided into two fast flowing channels as it passes through the core of the city. The remains of several water mills are still evident along the course of the river in the centre of the city.

It was not until the late 1970s that planners and design professionals began to see the potential of opening up the river corridor to public access. When other power sources became available in the early part of the twentieth century the economic importance of the river declined; the city turned its back on it with limited public access and unattractive built development.  

We decided to take action to reverse the situation in the late 1980s. A multi-disciplinary team of Town Planners, Architects, Landscape Architects and Engineers worked to develop routes on council-owned land and to purchase land required to create connected routes. Paths were laid out and bridges installed to open-up Canterbury’s hidden heritage.

A first Riverside Strategy was produced in 1987 to publicise the new routes and to set out future aspirations. In 2003 this was updated and transformed into a more concise supplementary planning guidance document. The main purpose being to protect existing routes and ensure new development contributed to the accessible network of routes.

Today the riverside routes are well used, attractive and have been integrated into the fabric of the city. There remains great potential to extend and upgrade the existing network.  In 2011 partnership working delivered the ‘Great Stour Way’ riverside walking and cycling route between the Westgate Gardens and the village of Chartham.

A revised strategy (2015-20) has been produced to upgrade the existing routes and, amongst other initiatives, to extend the network eastwards to link the village of Sturry with the city via an attractive and direct off road walking and cycling route. The strategy is directly linked to the district-wide transport strategy, forming part of a package of measures to relieve traffic congestion through the provision of alternative off-road walking and cycle paths through the river corridor.

Active Canterbury

Visit our Active Canterbury website to view organised health walks or other routes available across the district.

A - Z of council services