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Posts Tagged ‘coppice’

Superb views and wonderful woodlands on the North Downs

Wye to Chilham, Kent

All Saints Church, Boughton Aluph

The southwest elevation of All Saints Church, Boughton Aluph

New boots to try out, and a beautiful azure autumn sky – what more reason could I need to head out into the country? This was actually my second attempt at this walk – back in August, I got halfway to Wye on the train before the rain started to pour down and I made the decision to abandon any foolish plans I may have had for a 10 mile walk with no bail-out point or shelter along the way. This time, I managed to stay dry. Well, mostly dry; after hours of sunshine, the English weather decided to remind me that it is autumn, with a brief but tempestuous downpour of rain and hail just as I reached my destination. Not to worry though, it had been a great day featuring glorious views, extensive stretches through beautiful autumnal woodland, and a real gem of a country church. And the added danger of aggressive wildlife!

Start: Wye Station TR048470

Finish: Chilham Station TR078536

Length: 10½ miles/5 hours

How to get there: Both stations are about 90 minutes from London Charing Cross or London Bridge with Southeastern, either direct or by changing at Ashford International. A quicker (and more exciting) route from north of the Thames is provided by the High Speed service that whisks you at up to 140mph from St Pancras International to, less than 40 minutes later, Ashford International, from where a more sedate service reaches Wye in 6 minutes.

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A lesson in landscape history

Ashurst to Eridge, Kent/Sussex border

I love the Weald, this being the area of sandstone hills between the chalk of the North Downs and the South Downs exposed by erosion of the overlying chalk and greensand layers. Here’s a quick geology lesson, pay attention at the back:

Got that? Good. There’s a history lesson later too, as there are three landscape features in particular that crop up regularly on this walk, each of which helps to tell the history of this part of southern England.

Beautiful woodlands, stunning views from rolling hills that drop into steep-sided sandstone ravines, only an hour from the centre of London, yet you can walk for miles without seeing another person. Not entirely sure why this should be, given that this is an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, possibly because the two ridges either side have National Trails running along them that attract the tourists?

Start: Ashurst (Kent) Station TQ507387

Finish: Eridge Station TQ542345

Length: 5 miles/2½-3 hours

How to get there: Dr Beeching made this area quite difficult to access by railway, but there are still direct services from London, and a number of heritage steam railways locally too. Both stations are on the Uckfield line, served by an hourly Southern service from London Bridge via East Croydon. Alternatively, travel from London Victoria on the service to East Grinstead and change at Hurst Green or Oxted. NB: There’s an Ashurst station in the New Forest. Don’t go there. At least, not if you want to do this walk.

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