Author Topic: Completely covering Kent  (Read 14400 times)

WhitstableDave

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Completely covering Kent
« on: 16:25:43, 03/09/19 »
 I live near Whitstable on the North Kent coast, which is where I do most of my walking.
 
Kent, also known as the Garden of England, is situated in the far south-east of the region known as the Rest of England. I think thatís because Kent doesnít have any mountains or even really big hills and, of course, ups and downs are very important to serious walkers.  ;)
 
Iím quite new to walking for leisure, having started just under three years ago when I was given a GPS watch for my 64th birthday. I immediately began to record my walks and I set myself endless targets involving combinations of distance, periods of time and speed. I wanted to explore every footpath and lane in my area, and then those further afield.
 
Iíve recorded about 600 walks in Kent so far and the track for each one has been added to Google Earth. Initially, I did that mainly to be able to see at a glance the areas I hadnít been to yet, but as time went on I developed the aim of walking in every part of the county. My map shows that Iíve quite literally still a long way to go, but thatís the great thing about aims Ė thereís always something to aim towards!



My usual routine is to do five walks a week, at least one of which is somewhere Iíve not been before. My other walks are local coast and countryside routes. Iíve walked some of the tracks on the map hundreds of times, others only once, and the rest somewhere in between.
 
But to get to the point at last: Iíve been writing up many of my walks on my own blog, but Iím not here to get people to visit it because it seems wrong to me to use this forum for that purpose (each to their own though!). Instead, I thought I might post occasional updates about my walks in order to give a flavour of what the Rest of England has to offer Ė starting with a walk I did yesterdayÖ
 
 
I parked in lovely medieval Lenham (where the source of the River Stour is), a town about halfway between Maidstone and Ashford, and followed the Stour Valley Walk from its start until just north of Egerton. I picked up the Greensand Way in Egerton and followed it to Ulcombe, then made my way back to Lenham via Fairbourne (not shown on the map) and Harrietsham. I planned the route to link up with my previous walks in the surrounding areas.
 

 
Looking back soon after leaving Lenham on the Stour Valley Walk. The Stour is a trickle in the hedges on the left and the Lenham chalk cross is just visible on the far hillside (it's a lot bigger than it looks!):
 

 
Here the Stour makes a wonderful water feature in someone's garden:
 

 
Cattle are probably the most vexing things on any walk. Bogs, exposed mountain ridges, midges - bring them on, they're nothing compared to having your way blocked by cattle (and they always seem to congregate at the very point where the path exits the field)... 
 

 
...but on this occasion I was able to bypass them by trespassing slightly on an adjacent field.  :) 
 
Some time later I joined the Greensand Way, which left Egerton through a nice orchard with a welcome from a walker-friendly notice. I must have been tempting fate, because I'd just been thinking that one of the great things about walking through orchards is that I never encounter dogs - only to meet three (all off their leads) in the next hundred yards!  >:( It's so much nicer being out of dog-walking range (which equals 'most-people-walking' range).  ;)
 

 
Not much later, I approached cattle guarding a gate for the second time today. This time I had no option but to go past them very carefully - I bravely took a photo from the other side of the gate.  8)
 

 
I always like to take photos of crops. Here the Greensand Way heads up the hill through a field of beans:
 

 
Sheep, and a nice view:
 

 
I liked that there was no doubt about the route through this hop field:
 

 
I passed an area where there were lots of sunflowers. There were too few to be a crop, so I'm not sure why they're there (unless it's for photo-ops?).
 

 
The Greensand Way passes through a great many orchards, which makes for a fantastic walk at this time of the year:
 

 
I see a lot of alpacas on my Kent walks. However, never has a path gone through a field where they are and I'm not sure why because they always seem friendly. Looking at the photo, these alpacas seem to have been sheared recently, but not on their heads:
 

 
I'll finish with a photo taken in the tiny hamlet of Fairbourne. Rural Kent in a nutshell!  O0
 

 
« Last Edit: 16:31:32, 03/09/19 by WhitstableDave »

Jac

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #1 on: 18:09:59, 03/09/19 »
Lovely :)

I think you should link to your blog/website - so other can enjoy the walks you've discovered
So many paths, so little time

gunwharfman

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #2 on: 18:52:21, 03/09/19 »
Much appreciated, I grew up in Kent and always wanted to retire to Cranbrook, I'll never do it though. Cranbrook was the place I hop and apple picked with my family, met my first girlfriend and I'm sure started my love of alcohol as well.

In the photo, when you walked through the orchard, does it lead to the pub in Little Chart? If it does I've walked that route as well. It's hard to better Kent at this time of the year, lots of scrumping to do.

WhitstableDave

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #3 on: 18:53:31, 03/09/19 »
Lovely :)

I think you should link to your blog/website - so other can enjoy the walks you've discovered

Thanks Jac. Okay, you've talked me into it - I've put a link in my signature.  :) 
(Despite the name, it's a forum about cruising. But I'm not very interested in cruising nowadays, so I added a walking section!  ;) )

WhitstableDave

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #4 on: 19:06:08, 03/09/19 »
Much appreciated, I grew up in Kent and always wanted to retire to Cranbrook, I'll never do it though. Cranbrook was the place I hop and apple picked with my family, met my first girlfriend and I'm sure started my love of alcohol as well.

In the photo, when you walked through the orchard, does it lead to the pub in Little Chart? If it does I've walked that route as well. It's hard to better Kent at this time of the year, lots of scrumping to do.

I love Cranbrook and the surrounding area; I've done four circular walks from there and they look like a battered clover leaf on my map!

The path certainly does continue to Little Chart from that orchard, but it's about a mile in the other direction. Another fantastic part of Kent - along with nearby Pluckley.  :)

Jac

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #5 on: 08:10:59, 04/09/19 »
Thanks Jac. Okay, you've talked me into it - I've put a link in my signature.  :) 
(Despite the name, it's a forum about cruising. But I'm not very interested in cruising nowadays, so I added a walking section!  ;) )

Great and reminded me that my maternal grandfather's family were from Charing - surname of Hyder. I've not visited but understand there several buried in the churchyard there.
So many paths, so little time

Slowcoach

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #6 on: 08:18:00, 04/09/19 »
Great report, thanks. I started my walking in Kent in my teens firstly around Eynsford and then along the Canterbury Way, Kemsing, Otford and then the Kent border areas with Sussex. I havenít been to those aeas in years, perhaps time to revisit.

It's all uphill from here.

WhitstableDave

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #7 on: 15:45:23, 07/09/19 »
Just a very brief update from today's weekend walk with my wife...

We parked in the lovely old village of Eastry, a few miles west of Sandwich. We did a circuit through Finglesham, Northbourne and Betteshanger, following the White Cliffs Country Trail for much of the way, with the return to Eastry being along a bridleway on the line of a Roman Road.

The weather was overcast with occasional drizzle, so we didn't take many photos.

In fact, I wouldn't have bothered with this post at all... except that we finally found the legendary signpost!   8)


WhitstableDave

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #8 on: 18:59:54, 09/09/19 »
I'd hoped to do a circular walk today between Tonbridge to Tunbridge Wells but it's a long drive and the weather forecast was for rain so I decided to wait for a sunny day when I can take nice sunny photos!

Instead, I found an area closer to home with villages I've not passed through before, which include Tilmanstone, Eythorne and Elvington. I'd also spotted somewhere called Knowlton on the map that looked intriguing being a hamlet at the end of a no through road.

I didn't mind the prospect of rain. I bought a new waterproof jacket a few weeks ago (a Rohan Vertex), which had only seen a little drizzle so far and I was looking forward to testing it some more.   :)   So I parked in Eastry, where my wife and I started our weekend walk from on Saturday, and set off on the 15.5 mile loop...



The walk was mainly on quiet country lanes, which was just as well. I wore my non-waterproof walking shoes (Merrell Cham 7 Slam Luna, since I'm mentioning gear for once - what a mouthful!) and within seconds of taking this track my feet were soaked. And I'd decided not to bother with overtrousers so my legs were soon soaked too.



I always like to do a lap of churchyards and there were a few on this walk. I always take photos as well - the top two are of the church at Tilmanstone (the yew tree is enormous), bottom-left is the church at Elvington, and bottom-right is the one at Chillenden:



At Eythorne, I passed a railway station of the East Kent Railway. Trains run between here and Shepherdswell where the station is right by the North Downs Way.



Although not much evidence remains, this area was an important coal mining region and The Miners' Way Trail is a circular heritage walk of about 27 miles:



I was very pleased that I paid a visit to Knowlton Court. The estate is full of quite amazing properties and I believe it's owned by the Fox-Pitt family (of equestrian fame). There were lots of trees and I couldn't get a very good photo of the big house, but this might give an idea of what the place is like...



Not far from Knowlton is Chillenden Windmill - apparently it's an open-trestle post mill and the last one built in Kent. I went up the stairs but the door was locked.



The rain came down incessantly for over two hours before easing to a fine drizzle, but it was a very good outing all the same. My feet might have been wet, but the jacket was great - the most breathable one I've had yet!   :)

One F

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #9 on: 16:29:38, 10/09/19 »
Just a very brief update from today's weekend walk with my wife...

We parked in the lovely old village of Eastry, a few miles west of Sandwich. We did a circuit through Finglesham, Northbourne and Betteshanger, following the White Cliffs Country Trail for much of the way, with the return to Eastry being along a bridleway on the line of a Roman Road.

The weather was overcast with occasional drizzle, so we didn't take many photos.

In fact, I wouldn't have bothered with this post at all... except that we finally found the legendary signpost!   8)




Blimey, there's a blast from the past - Ham Sandwich  :)


In the early to mid 60's I spent many weeks  visiting family and staying in Faversham, Seasalter and then Eastry. In fact if not for a twist of fate I may have stayed there a while longer. Quite a few of the families in and around Eastry were from Durham and had moved to Kent to work in the mines at Betteshanger, Tilmanstone and Snowdon (iirc). My first ever job (after leaving school in Yorkshire) was at a farm in Eastry.  Happy days and I remember that road sign well.

WhitstableDave

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #10 on: 19:06:14, 10/09/19 »
I'm delighted you liked the photo One F.

And it's nice to have confirmation that the signpost is indeed legendary!  O0

WhitstableDave

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #11 on: 19:07:56, 10/09/19 »
In addition to my explorations of Kent, I do at least three walks each week from home. I rarely mention these because they mostly cover the same old ground and I hardly ever take photos - and I do like to put photos into a walk report!

But I'll make an exception today. I noticed this morning that, since I began recording my walks less than 3 years ago, I'd reached 7,999 miles. So almost as soon as I set off I would pass a significant milestone, and I decided to celebrate by taking photos and reporting an otherwise entirely typical local walk.

Doing a local walk doesn't need a reason, but I'm always happy to have one. Yesterday, I discovered that I needed to replace the heater in my aquarium and since there's a garden centre with a fish section about 7 miles away, that was good enough for me. Even better was that 6 miles of that is through wonderful woodland.

My route is shown on the map below with the garden centre being south of Herne Common. The return part of the route is convoluted because I have targets to meet(!) and I wanted to do over 15 miles today:



Exactly 0.6 miles into the walk I reached Brooklands Farm and the cycle path south to Canterbury. I love this spot because most of my local walks head towards the woods from here before going their various ways. The woods in question are collectively known as The Blean, which is one of England's largest areas of ancient woodland. The Blean covers over 11 square miles and is about 18 miles across east to west. We'll be there in another half-mile...



There are several claimants to the title of being the first passenger railway in Britain, including the Crab and Winkle Line that opened in 1830 and ran between Canterbury and Whitstable. The tracks went straight through these woods and I'm following a path where trains once ran...



After about a mile of a gentle uphill gradient the path reaches a winding pond. There was a stationary engine here that helped pull trains up the slope, but only the pond remains. Well, except for the rubbish left by some indescribable, er, person.



A lovely waymarked trail called the Big Blean Walk passes through The Blean for about 27 miles. I've walked it all, but piecemeal during other walks.



I took this photo because I like this spot, especially in winter. It's a great place for holly...



And I took this photo because I remember someone saying they love heather - here's some heather!



This is the view along the very long and very straight path that can be seen on the map. Despite it being designated as a footpath, it has a name: New Road. Perhaps it was a road once (animals used to be driven through the woods to the coast a long time ago), but I'm not sure about the history of this path. It's very nice though. I was going to say that I hardly ever meet anyone along here, but about halfway along I passed a group of Woodland Trust volunteers drinking cups of tea!

Just before the end of New Road, the path passes the side of a wildlife park called Wildwood and animals can sometimes be seen through the undergrowth. The park has two bears and their enclosure is close to the path. As I passed by once, I saw a bear through the trees. I knew there were bears there, but I've often wondered what someone who didn't know they were passing a wildlife park might think... (Incidentally, Wildwood was in the news recently for breeding Scottish wildcats.)



The garden centre is only a short way along a busy road near Wildwood but walking along the road involves a blind bend which is dangerous, so I went the slightly less dangerous way in the opposite direction to make my way across fields and arrive at the garden centre from a lane behind it. Someone has made a feeble attempt at blocking the path across the field:



There's a really nice house on the aforementioned lane so I took a photo.



I bought an aquarium heater then went back down the lane towards a small wood near the village of Herne. I walked through the wood...



...and arrived in the village:



Returning towards home, I followed lanes but crossed farmland whenever possible. One of the few remaining crops in fields at this time of the year is corn - I love corn fields despite getting quite lost in one once!



From here, a solar farm can be seen. We have a lot of them around here and although I'm generally in favour, they have their downsides too.



And finally - one of my favourite buildings in nearby Chestfield. It's called The Barn and it's an ancient building that's been converted into a posh restaurant and it's surrounded on three sides by Chestfield Golf Course. I'm not a fan of golf, but I do enjoy crossing golf courses on public rights of way.  ;)

« Last Edit: 19:14:07, 10/09/19 by WhitstableDave »

BrionyB

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #12 on: 13:22:53, 14/09/19 »
Nice photos, especially the woodland ones. I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely deciduous woods when I moved 'down South'; it's something we tend to lack in the North, where it's often conifer plantations or nothing.


Planning a Greensand Way walk myself sometime soon, perhaps getting the train down to Sevenoaks and heading towards the Chart area.

WhitstableDave

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #13 on: 14:00:04, 14/09/19 »
Nice photos, especially the woodland ones. I was pleasantly surprised by the lovely deciduous woods when I moved 'down South'; it's something we tend to lack in the North, where it's often conifer plantations or nothing.

Planning a Greensand Way walk myself sometime soon, perhaps getting the train down to Sevenoaks and heading towards the Chart area.

Hi Briony

I've walked a fair bit of the Greensand Way in Kent on circular walks, but by no means all of it. It's a brilliant trail though and I'm keen to do more.

The section you mentioned passes through idyllic 'Darling Buds of May' countryside near Pluckley and the path goes through a great many orchards. It's just a thought, but I think the area is best in spring for the blossom or late summer / early autumn for the fruit. I reckon you've still got a few weeks left of this year...  ;)

Rob Goes Walking

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Re: Completely covering Kent
« Reply #14 on: 12:53:41, 15/09/19 »
I liked the woodland pictures best too.

I suppose I kind of am a serious walker based on my attitude to it and even miles covered per week if you include my mostly repetitive walks for fitness, albeit something of a novice. Ups are important to me because I like being up high, the views and the physical aspects of getting there. Downs are a necessary nuisance!

I really wanted to disagree with your assertion ups and downs are important to serious walkers as I know it's not always true, your Kent excursions being an example but people who do a lot of walking do seem to like ups and downs.

With all that walking you've done in Kent you could start a regional section all on your own!

It was interesting to read about and see photos from a different part of the country. Thanks for posting here.


« Last Edit: 13:00:22, 15/09/19 by Rob Goes Walking »