Walking in Kent
Think of Kent, and the phrase 'The Garden of England' will most likely spring to mind. The county derives this reputation from its abundant orchards, hop fields, market gardens and, more recently, its successful vineyards. Whilst this rich cultivation is true of much of the county, in particular the Vale of Kent, the geography of Kent is more complex than this caricature suggests. The diversity of the landscape makes Kent a fascinating and rewarding county to explore on foot.
One of the most dominant features of the county is the chalk ridge of The North Downs, in particular the south facing escarpment overlooking the Kentish Weald. Stunning views and open space make for exhilarating walking along the ridge top paths. The countryside surrounding the village of Newnham, situated on top of the North Downs, close to Kent’s famous cherry orchards, has lovely wooded hills and valleys and it is not surprising that this is designated as an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
South of the North Downs lies the heart of Kent, the richly wooded Weald, densely forested from pre-historic times to the middle ages and still containing areas of ancient deciduous forests of oak, beech and chestnut; the name 'Weald' comes from the Anglo Saxon, meaning wood. This is a great area for summertime walks through cool woodland filled with abundant wildlife and exploring the Wealdon hills with their fertile farmland where fruit, hops and corn are grown. There is also the added interest of discovering some of the signs of the region's distant industrial past, particularly the now secluded and attractive hammer ponds which once powered the forge hammers of the 16th century iron industry. Cranbrook, with its impressive parish church, Goudhurst and Lamberhurst are all good centres for local walking.
Explore the cliffs and countryside of south-east Kent from Hythe through to Dover and Deal. The walks from Brockhill Country Park will take you through woodland, by lake and stream and over chalk downland, with many points of historical interest and fine views overlooking Romney Marsh to the sea. Folkstone Downs contain one of Britain's richest wildlife habitats and have a long and rich history. They are an excellent place for walks with outstanding views. At The Warren, landslips have created a natural wilderness rich in wildlife. Discover Dover's Western Heights, one of the largest and strongest fortifications in the country, with splendid views of Dover, the castle and harbour. Explore the internationally famous White Cliffs with dramatic views of the coast, and rare and colourful wildlife, or enjoy the walk along the unspoilt cliffs of the South Foreland.
The area around Ide Hill is a wonderful place for walking. The Greensand Ridge is heavily wooded and there are glorious views over the Weald. The beauty of the landscape was recognised by the National Trust who own large amounts of land nearby. In spring bluebells and other colourful spring abound, while in autumn the trees have beautiful gold and russet tints. The village has a large green and a tea and gift shop in addition to a fine inn. The Greensand Way passes through the village. Chartwell, the family home of Winston Churchill is just west of the village and can be visited.
A Walk from Ide Hill [TQ 487518] OS Maps: Explorer™ 147
This walk is made up of two short circuits north and south of the village which can easily be combined. The north circuit takes you to Great Norman Street Farm and Brook Place with fine views ahead of the North Downs. The southern loop takes you through National Trust woodland past a memorial seat to Octavia Hill, founder of the National Trust. From here there is a stunning view across the Weald. About 2.5 miles.
Best Pub for this walk
Cock, Ide Hill Tel: 01732 750310 (Good Pub Guide)
The Cock is a pretty pub with a warm atmosphere and is the oldest building on the village green. It used to be the location for meetings of the Court Baron and is still a focal point in the village. There is a good choice of food and drink, the main menu including steaks, scampi, gammon and salads plus specials such as spicy sausage casserole and pheasant in white wine.
This walk is fully described in the guidebook 'Pub Strolls in Kent' by Michael Easterbrook
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