RETREAT TO A COUNTRY BOLTHOLE AT THE MILK HOUSE, STAPLEHURST

Nearest station: Staplehurst

Special offer

This summer, Southeastern is offering Off-Peak Day Return tickets to 13 destinations for £15, £20 and £25 from London stations (Zones 1-6) until Friday 24 August 2018. T&Cs apply. For more information visit southeasternrailway.co.uk

What to do: The Milk House is ideal for a weekend away: not much of your precious time will be guzzled up by the journey, yet this boozer-with-rooms has an appropriate 'country escape' vibe. Downstairs, Kiwi chef-patron Dane Allchorne leverages Kentish produce to brilliant effect in dishes of razor-thin beef carpaccio and beetroot-marinated salmon, while upstairs the rooms have that home-from-home vibe – if, of course, your home happens to be one of the most beautifully appointed places you've ever had the chance to set foot in.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge and take from 49 minutes. From there, it's a 12-minute taxi journey from the station.

For more info: themilkhouse.co.uk

TRY SMOKED LOCAL PRODUCE AT THE KILN ROOM, FLIMWELL

Nearest station: Wadhurst

What to do: From charcuterie to cheese, Weald Smokery churns out some of the tastiest smoked produce you're likely to get your chops around, and any restaurant worth its salt in these parts will probably have something of theirs on the menu. But, really, the best way to try all this deliciousness is at The Kiln Room, the Smokery's on-site café, where a seasonal menu, fine wines and a sun-soaked terrace make for a brilliant meal. Oh, and you can stock up on smoked delights at the Smokery's shop, too.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge and take from 53 minutes. From there, it's a ten-minute taxi from the station.

For more info: wealdsmokery.co.uk

DRINK IN THE VIEW FROM ZIGGY'S ROOFTOP BAR, MARGATE

Nearest station: Margate

What to do: Rooftop bars aren't just the preserve of cities, y'know, which is great, as the view from Ziggy's in the seaside town of Margate is splendid. The bar is Caribbean-themed, so grab yourself a rum cocktail and drink or dance while you watch the sunset.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge, St Pancras International and London Victoria and take from 1h30. From there, it's a four-minute walk from the station.

For more info: ziggysrooftop.co.uk

Try some of the UK’s best wine in Kent

Try some of the UK’s best wine in Kent

TASTE BRILLIANT BRITISH WINES AT CHAPEL DOWN, TENTERDEN

Nearest station: Headcorn

What to do: English wine is having a bit of a moment, and the South East is home to some of the best wineries in the country. Chapel Down is not only one of the most established, but one of the most interesting (its Brut rosé was served at William and Kate's wedding), and you'll learn more about it all in a tour and tasting than you ever thought possible. You'll get the chance to taste a few of the award-winning wines afterwards, or soak them up with an excellent meal at the winery's own restaurant, The Swan at Chapel Down.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge and St Pancras International and take around one hour. From there, it's a 20-minute taxi journey – but it's worth it.

For more info: chapeldown.com

DISCOVER THE CUTTY SARK, A HIDDEN BOOZER IN GREENWICH

Nearest station: Greenwich

What to do: Greenwich is good spot to go for an amble, and if you wander away from the centre and east along the riverfront, you'll stumble across the Cutty Sark (the pub, not the boat). Park yourself in the gorgeous bay window, drink in the view and you'll begin to understand why it's been a favourite in the area for more than 200 years.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge and take from eight minutes. From there, it's a 20-minute stroll from the station.

For more info: cuttysarkse10.co.uk

EAT PROPER FISH AND CHIPS AT MAGGIE'S, HASTINGS

Nearest station: Hastings

What to do: Forget fish-and-chip Fridays – for the real deal, head to Maggie's, where you can eat fish caught by the local fleet right on the beach. If you want to take some local fish home with you, nip down the road to the family-run Rock-A-Nore Fisheries. Produce changes with the seasons, but you can pick up anything from turbot to kippers smoked in the shop's smokehouse.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge, London Victoria and Waterloo East and take from around 1h23. From there, it's a 20-minute walk or a ten-minute bus journey.

For more info: maggiesfishandchips.co.uk

EAT LIKE A CHEF AT ELLIOTT'S AT NO.1 HARBOUR STREET, WHITSTABLE

Nearest station: Whitstable

What to do: Can you keep a secret? Elliott's Coastal Kitchen at No1 Harbour Street is a favourite of The Sportsman's chef-patron Stephen Harris. Food is local, simple and delicious – think fillets of lemon sole with fine beans, potato croquettes and basil sauce, and mushroom, courgette and cashew nut stroganoff – which is exactly why it's garnered such a cult following.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge, St Pancras International and London Victoria and take from 1h13. From there, it's an 11-minute walk.

For more info: no1harbourstreet.co.uk

ENJOY AWARD-WINNING TAPAS AT THE WIFE OF BATH, WYE

Nearest station: Wye

What to do: The Wife of Bath is, confusingly, located in Wye rather than Bath. But that's all the more joy for us, as it means Mark Sergeant's superb cooking is just a hop, skip and a 50-minute journey away. Rustic meets refined in a locally sourced menu that takes its lead from Basque flavours, with perfect plates of baked cod, cider and saffron broth; Iberico pork; and moreish wild mushroom empanadas. Eaten so much you can't move? The restaurant has rooms, too, so book yourself in and you'll only need to get yourself upstairs. Phew.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge and St Pancras International and take from 59 minutes. From there, it's an eight-minute walk from the station.

For more info: thewifeofbath.com

LEARN ABOUT YOUR FAVOURITE SPIRIT AT ANNO DISTILLERS, MARDEN

Nearest station: Marden

What to do: It's peak G&T season, which means it's also the perfect time to learn about your favourite spirit – and where better to do that than the distillery of award-winning brand Anno? As you'd expect, the team's Kent Dry Gin is packed with Kentish flavour, while the 602 is a big, bold overpoof 60% serve. Book yourself in for a tour and you can finish up with a tutored tasting sesh.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge and take from 45 minutes. From there, it's a four-minute walk from the station.

For more info: annodistillers.co.uk

The Fordwich Arms, Kent

Eat at the UK’s best new pub, The Fordwich Arms

Nearest station: Sturry

What to do: The UK’s smallest town of Fordwich, Kent seems like an unlikely location for some of 2018’s biggest food and drink news, but that’s exactly what it is. The red-bricked country boozer has reopened with ex-Clove Club chef Dan Smith at the helm and reviews have suggested it’s an absolute stonker, with many touting it to be the new Sportsman. It pairs proper British produce with heaps of creativity – think pheasant dumplings, but made in a delicate dim sum style; and rare sika venison served with kale and plum – so your standard pub fare this most certainly isn’t. A hidden gem this might be, but it won’t remain that way for long. 

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge and St Pancras International to Sturry and take from 1h09. From there, it’s an 11-minute walk.

For more info: fordwicharms.co.uk

 

PLAN A FOODIE ESCAPE TO THE CRESCENT TURNER, FAVERSHAM

Nearest station: Faversham

What to do: This boutique hotel is often booked by foodie pilgrims itching to get themselves to The Sportsman down the road in Seasalter, but, truth be told, it's well worth a trip in its own right. The food is decent, the bedrooms are overtly comfortable, and the location means Whitstable is ripe for exploring, with easy access to the beach and leisurely strolls through the Kentish countryside.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge, St Pancras International and London Victoria and take from 1h06. From there, it's 15-minute taxi.

For more info: crescentturner.co.uk

PAIR THAI COOKING WITH BRILLIANT BOOKS AT BOULEVARD BOOKS AND THAI CAFÉ, HASTINGS

Nearest station: Hastings

What to do: In order to buy a book at Boulevard Books, you'll actually have to book yourself in for dinner. But we've decided that's OK, because the food here is authentic and utterly delicious, and while you wait you can peruse the shelves and settle in with a good read. It's BYOB, too.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge, London Victoria and Waterloo East and take from 1h23. From there, it's a 12-minute walk.

For more info: thaicafeandbookshop.com

SAMPLE NEW CRAFT BEERS AT THE VILLAGES TAPROOM, DEPTFORD

Nearest station: Deptford

What to do: Swerve the stag dos of the Bermondsey Beer Mile and venture out to Villages in Deptford, where founders Archie and Louis are whipping up sessional, seasonal brews that you can drink straight from the tap, like Crusoe, a West Coast-style IPA. OK, so it's one taproom rather than a mile of 'em, but pop into neighbouring Jamaican bar Buster Mantis and you've got the beginnings of a very boozy bar crawl.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge and take from six minutes. From there, it's a two-minute walk from the station.

For more info: villagesbrewery.com

UP YOUR SANDWICH GAME AT CYRIL'S SANDWICH SHOP, MARGATE

Nearest station: Margate

What to do: With crisp white tiles and Tracey Emin-style neon lighting, Cyril's isn't any old sandwich shop, and nor are its sandwiches any old sandwiches. These sarnies are pretty darn special, with choices like pastrami, mustard and homemade sweet pickle slaw, or cola-baked ham with homemade chutney. Yum.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge, St Pancras International and London Victoria to Margate and take from 1h30. From there, it's a five-minute walk from the station.

For more info: @cyrilsmargate

SHARPEN UP YOUR COOKING AT ROSEMARY SHRAGER'S COOKERY SCHOOL, TUNBRIDGE WELLS

Nearest station: Tunbridge Wells

What to do: OK, so pretty much all of us are great at eating delicious food, but some of us need a little extra help when it comes to making it. Enter Rosemary Shrager's Cookery School in The Pantiles in Tunbridge Wells, where you can take your cooking from beans on toast to Sunday roast with all the trimmings in no time.

How to get there: Southeastern Off-Peak trains run from London Bridge and take from 43 minutes. From there, it's an eight-minute walk from the station.

For more info: rosemaryshrager.com