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A short walk in the Hindu Kush (East Kent bit nr Canterbury)

A short walk in the Hindu Kush (East Kent bit nr Canterbury)

Postby snodland » Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:13 pm

Date walked: 15/09/2010

Time taken: 6

Distance: 19 km

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The North Downs in Kent will never feature in a Bear Grylls programme (though he might be seen in some of the 5 star Hotels and Country Clubs that one finds along it) and I can’t see a market for The SAS Pilgrims Way Survival Guide. However they did provide some welcome respite for me when I had my annual 7 day trip down to my Parents in Kent recently.
The trail itself runs for 153 miles from Farnham in Surrey to Dover which as we all know lies at the end of the civilized universe.(or perhaps the start of it!).Restricted to public transport I chose to walk a part of it served by 2 rails stations, from Charing to Wye in East Kent near Ashford.
At Charing you walk up through the village to the top of the very aptly titled Hill Street.
Charing,Kent. Hilll Street.JPG
The guide books will tell you to cross the main road at the top. However if you do you walk about 25 metres along and then have to cross back over the busy main road. Far better to just turn right and walk along the main road for 100 metres till you come to the first of many excellent Signposts, and a reminder that you are walking on an older, more famous and exceptionally well trodden trackway.
North Downs Way at Charing, joins the Pilgrims Way.JPG

Looking back towards the village I had just left, I caught the first of several shots which made me think “England, My England”.
Charing Church from the Pilgrims Way (2).JPG
And whilst taking the shop I attracted the attention of a new friend.
Horse at Lone Barn Farm,Charing.JPG

A cracking looking horse.
Horse at Lone Barn Farm,Charing (2).JPG

Looking back up Charing Hill was this beautiful looking house.
House on Charing Hill.JPG
This is a part of England, heavy with money.
Whilst for all I know that could be Mock Tudor, it is worth saying that this part of England featured heavily in the history of Tudor England. Primarily this was because of the proximity of Canterbury but also the powerful archbishopric of Maidstone. Several rebellions of the time started around East Kent and because of the closeness of the continent it was awash with the itinerant Catholic Priests, dropped off on the coast and charged with crossing the country ministering in secret to the many recusant and non conformist Landowner and Yeoman families.
The North Downs Way (NDW) broadly follows the Pilgrms Way,
North Downs Way at Westwell Downs.JPG
through a little hamlet called Dunn Street. Looking south west there is a flat vista towards the Weald of Kent, which does of course stretch into what is now referred to as East Sussex. The ridge at the back of this photo is Coombe Hill near Hastings. Just in front of the second set of buildings back you can see the Channel Tunnel Rail Link, scything through the Kent Countryside, enclosed for all its length up to London in High Wire Fencing.
South West from Westwell Downs towards Coomb Hill.JPG

At Westwell the trackway crosses the first of many arable fields along a track
North Downs Way track crosses a field at Westwell.JPG

Running below the downs of Giddyhorn Toll and Jack’s Hut Woods. As it was such a bright day the mix of colours was nice.
Giddyhorn Toll and Jack's Hut Wood on the North Downs Way at Westwell.JPG

I spent ages watching a raptor up on the top of the hill swooping and catching some prey. No idea what it was the best shot I got of it was this – have seen these wing markings on buzzards before, but this one was not big enough for that.
Harrier above Giddyhorn Toll near Westwell.JPG

Across another field at Eastwell over this track.
North Downs Way trackway across a field at Eastwell Park.JPG

It is perhaps worth saying that although these tracks look ramshackle and do cross arable farmland in use, they are well used and marked on the OS Maps as tracks, bridleways or rights of way so don’t be put off using them. Near the 5 star Country club at Eastwell Park is an old ruined church f St. Mary’s.
St Mary's Church.A ruin at Eastwell on the North Downs Way (2).JPG

Meeting a road you walk up to the lovely village green of Boughton Lees. I think this next shot belongs in the “England, My England” series with the traditional village green view including the Cricket ground, the village pub at the far end and the War Memorial.
Village Green at Boughton Lees.JPG

Just a little further along the NDW splits with one fork going off to Dover via Canterbury.
North Downs Way near Sundridge at Boughton Lees.JPG
I was taking the other route to Dover via Folkestone. I walked through a field, taking ages to stop and pick up little stones. The field was full of pieces of flint, which is a common stone found in south and east Kent. In Stone Age times flint was often worked into Axes,arrowheads and other tools. I came away with a couple of little arrowheads, which had clearly been worked on by being chipped into shape with other bits of flint.
Another barely discernible (it is a small green strip in the centre of this photo running towards the lamppost on the main road behind the hedge – but is once again clearly marked on the map) track leads over to the Ashford road
North Downs Way Right of Way over field at Boughton Lees.JPG
and then I was walking through lovely orchards, choc full of ripened apples. Mainly Granny Smiths but my favourite Cox’s Pippins also featured. I was tempted to nab one.
And presently the final destination of the village of Wye comes into view. The big crown in the Downs behind is not ancient like the White Horse of Avebury Vale. I think it was cut out in 1999 for the Milllenium Celebrations.
At this point I decided I would go through the village and walk up Wye Downs to have a look back over the flat Vale below. The NDW joins the Great Stour Way and goes through the village, along some very well defined paths along the side of the fields. Then across this field..
North Downs Way crosses field at Pickersdane Farm near Wye.JPG

And a path winds quite steeply up to the top of Wye Downs. From here the view stretches across the Weald. On a clear day you can apparently see Boulougne. The most noticeable landmark for me was the big Nuclear Power Station at Dungeness
Dungeness Power Station from Wye Downs.JPG

Which although it might be less aesthetically acceptable than the graceful turbines of the neighbouring Wind Farm at Camber Sands
Camber Sands Windfarm from Wye Downs.JPG

Does nonetheless knock the latter into a cocked hat in terms of usefulness, output and not being a waste of space.
The Wye Downs have been set up as a National Nature Reserve and I spent some time following this Kestrel as it swooped on some smaller birds only 20 metres away from me – not catching them. I always like the way they hover using their tail as it balances in the face of a really strong headwind.
Kestrel above Wye Downs (3).JPG

By chance some sheep ran across the top of the ridge. Silhouetted against the lovely blue sky I thought they made for a nice couple of pics.
Sheep crossing a ridge at Wye Downs (6).JPG
Sheep crossing a ridge at Wye Downs (2).JPG

Over to the North was White Hill and Soakham Downs. If I had taken the Canterbury fork of the NDW, I would have been walking along the foot of these into the lovely little village of Chilham before getting a wonderful view of Canterbury. Perhaps Next Year.
White Hill and Soakham Downs from Wye Downs (2).JPG

It was time to go back down into Wye village as trains only run twice an hour and I wanted to take a few shots of the place before leaving. This is Wye College.
University of London at Wye (3).JPG
It is an outpost of the University of London, I think administered by Imperial College. It specialises in Land Economy and Land Management. As you walk off the downs and through the fields attached to the College you see all manner of crop being harvested. Many of the students come from overseas, Africa and Asia. I often think it must be a shock for them when they imagined University of London to be in a bustling, hedonistic Metropolis and they wind up in a sleepy but beautiful part of Kent miles from anything exciting.
Apart from Oxford, Cambridge,St Andrews and perhaps Durham, there can’t be many grander looking University Buildings in Britain
England,My England part 3. Church Street in Wye Village, once again the village pub (on the left) and dominating the view the presence of the very traditional looking English Church.
Sadly in little villages like Wye, there is no call for the pubs to open all day (some might say this is a good thing!) The lack of trade means they close up during the afternoon till 6 o’clock. So I was denied the opportunity to reacquaint myself with the Glory that is known as Courage Directors, my favourite as a young lad – well not so young lad, or the local beers from Shepherd Neame and Hartley’s (admittedly a Sussex Beer but I wll allow them some licence). Back onto the train and within 10 minutes all the olde worlde landscape of the Pilgrims Way, the North Downs Way and the traditional village greens had been swapped for the fast paced globalised world of Ashford International Railway Station.
Bourne Wood and Westwell Downs from the North Downs Way.JPG
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Re: A short walk in the Hindu Kush (East Kent bit nr Canterbury)

Postby houdi » Sun Oct 03, 2010 4:25 pm

Loved the pics. I'm especially intrigued by all those strange bits at the top. Don't they call it blue sky? :D
Ah, the good old south-east. Does it ever rain there?
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