Cycling UK, the UK’s cycling charity, has just launched a brand new cycle touring and bikepacking route in east Kent, England. Named after the Iron Age Celtic tribe that inhabited the area, the Cantii Way is a 150-mile (230km) mixed terrain route that follows the success of the King Alfred’s Way launch back in 2020.
While the King Alfred’s Way is a challenging and mostly off-road route, the Cantii Way is definitely a more accessible option for those looking to try out bikepacking for the first time. Despite traversing some outstanding natural landscapes, the Cantii Way passes through most of the major coastal towns of East Kent, including Whitstable, Herne Bay, Deal, Dungeness, Dover, and Folkestone. This means you’re never too far from civilization should anything go wrong, and there will be plenty of sheltered options for eating and bedding down for the night if you’re not prepared to ‘rough it’.
I was fortunate enough to join the Cycling UK team on their recce ride back in March, so I’ve already experienced the entire route firsthand. If you’ve already delved into our list of the best UK bikepacking routes, you might notice some overlap with the Wye Overnighter that sits at the top. The route starts and ends in Wye, an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty that really sets the tone for what’s to come.
It takes in all manner of terrains from woodland bridleways and trails, to coastal paths, paved country lanes, and traffic-free cycle paths. Along the way, you’ll discover much of what the ‘garden of England’ can offer, including remnants of military defenses along the coastline, Roman ruins, vibrant art trails, and eco-friendly farms. Sticking mostly to the seafront, there’s plenty of local produce available, with lovers of shellfish particularly well catered for. The route also passes through several vineyards, and past the recognizable pointed white tops of hop-drying oast houses, so drink connoisseurs will be in their element.
There are parts of the route which make use of Cycling UK’s North Downs Way trail, so if you wanted to extend your trip, you could veer off in that direction as well.
Cycling UK was able to develop the Cantii Way as part of the European Regional Development Fund EXPERIENCE project, which aims to develop sustainable year-round tourism activities in Kent, Norfolk, and Cornwall. In addition to this, Cycling UK has developed a Cycle Friendly Places accreditation scheme to promote businesses that cater well to cycling visitors.
Those planning to try out the route for themselves should check out the route guide written by mountain bike guide Max Darkins, where you can also gain access to the GPX files.