Staple and Ash from Wingham

Easy walking on well marked paths, mainly on arable land. The second walk from my home village.

O/S Ref: TR244576
Length: 9 miles approx.
Approximate time: 3½-4 hours.
Parking: Free car park in St. Mary's Meadow, Wingham
Refreshments: Pubs in Wingham and Ash

The path which goes across a field near the beginning of the walk (TR245572-TR247571) can be ill defined and muddy. Best to use the edge of the field in this case, even the roads if it's a big problem.

The path just outside Staple (TR267569-TR269568) can be really muddy after extended periods of rain. There are roads that could be used as an alternative, but worth persevering though!

It can be muddy nearing the end of the outbound part of the walk (between TR276577 and TR280579)

The path which climbs just outside the perimeter of the church at Ash (TR286582-TR286584) can be muddy.

The path near Little Knell Farm and Overland Farm can be heavy-going during crop growing, especially if the crop is rapeseed (between TR280593 and TR277596). It can also be really boggy soon-after, at TR275597 after rain.

The walk

Turn left out of the car park, then left at the end of St. Mary's Meadow onto High Street. When you come to a junction where the main road swings right, turn left at a footpath signpost to walk along Harris's Alley. At the end of the road, by a car port with a turn-table on it, bear right along an alley. Turn left along South Court Drive and follow it to a corner. Take the footpath here, going half-right between some garages on the right and properties on the left. Carry on along a pavement at the end of the alley to come to a public footpath at the corner of this road to walk across a field. If the field has recently been ploughed, progress may be a bit awkward here – it may be worth turning right then following the edge of the field in that case.

You're making for a point at the end of a hedge on the right, which leads you to a road where there is a Dambridge sign nearby (telling you that you're in the small area, known as same). Bear left to follow the road. Where it swings right, carry on along a track in the same direction, soon passing Dambridge Oast (bed & breakfast) to the left.

The next 1500 metres pose no navigation problems, as the route follows this track. On coming to a way-marker, the end of this stretch is near. Bear slightly right here, coming to a lane. Turn right and follow this lane for 150 metres or so, to arrive at a footpath signpost. There is a path you could have taken (which seems like the obvious way), cutting a corner to get to this point, but it can be treacherous – I know, I've tried it.

Turn left at the footpath signpost (1), onto what can be a really muddy path. There are views to the left here of Ash parish church, which we'll be near in a while. After about 150 metres, turn right to walk along an enclosed footpath into the village of Staple. Pass to the right of the church (which has 12th century origins), just before turning left onto The Street.

Just to go off at a tangent, there are many roads in the area called The Street. I originally thought this may be something to do with Watling Street (the Roman road). Not sure about this; maybe any historians reading this, or someone with better local knowledge than mine could get in contact with me.

Anyway, on with the walk! Where the main road swings left, leave it to walk in the same direction as you have been going, along Buckland Lane. Where Buckland Lane swings right (a touch of dιjΰ vu, albeit the other way round), leave it to walk along Mill Road, in the direction of Barnsole and Hammill. Pass the cottage of Mill Road Farm on the left, then shortly afterwards turn left at a footpath signpost (2).

The first part of the path is enclosed. Cross a road to walk in the same direction on a path the other side, walking along the right edge of a field. After loosing the wire fence to the right, carry on in the same direction to come to a gate at the far side. The other side of the gate, bear left to follow an enclosed section of the path to a road.

Turn right along the road for about 500 metres, then turn right at a footpath signpost (3) to walk in the direction of Ash. The church tower is ahead for quite a bit of the next part of our walk. It's not until you get a lot closer however, that you see there is actually the rest of the building attached to it!

Strike off on the rough track soon going through a gate, to walk to the left of a hedge, between two orchards. These orchards are quite young I would venture, as they are not shown as such on my OS map. Carry on to a lane – here there are two possible options – I'm going to describe the left-most of the two.  Before I carry on with the walk narrative though, I'll point out (and you will see this for yourself) that we enter a parcel of land here which is part of Jack Foat's trust. Jack Foat was a fruit farmer who lived in Ash, and left money in his will for local land to be purchased and used as a conservation area.

Anyway, cross the lane then walk up a grassy area to the first of many kissing gates with chains to secure them shut. The path descends to a kissing gate, turning right just before it. After going through this gate, turn left to follow an area to a third kissing gate. Carry on, passing a pond to the left, to another kissing gate, leading into a meadow (last time I did this walk, the kissing just mentioned had been replaced by a temporary iron gate). There is a choice of three paths here, but I'm going to describe the left-most path's option. Keep to the left of two meadows, both separated by kissing gates, to come to a track. Cross the track and go through yet another kissing gate and walk to a way-marker, bearing left at it. There is a choice of two paths now – we're going to take the right one. Follow the path to one more kissing gate (the last for a while) to walk along an enclosed path to the left of the church of St. Nicholas, Ash.

Ascend the path, occasionally going up steps – this can be a bit muddy after sustained periods of rain. Turn left at the end of the path, then keep to the right, through a parking area of a property. Go through an arch to come to a road (another one called The Street). Turn left unless you want to explore the church first, then cross the road to turn right at Chequer Lane. Walk about 100 metres along Chequer Lane to a footpath signpost directing you left off the road. Take this turning to walk along an enclosed path (4), ascending initially. Ignore the first path (which turns right), but at a junction of paths shortly after, bear half-right to come to another enclosed section.

Cross a road and continue along another enclosed path, coming to a field. Cross this field, going in the same NNW direction. At some times of the year it may be awkward through this field, with heavy crop growth. If that is the case, follow the text in italics (also in blue, as italic script is not displayed properly on some print-outs). Re-trace your steps the short distance back to the road (Molland Lea), turn right, then right again onto School Lane. Turn right onto Molland Lane following a short length of bridleway at its end. Cross the busy A257, turn right, then immediately left into Knell Lane. Jump to next paragraph... After crossing the field, go through a short length of scrub to come to the busy A257. Cross it then turn left, then right onto Knell Lane.

After a short distance, turn left off the road at a footpath signpost (5). This signals the path going diagonally across a field, but it's often easier to walk along the left edge of the field, turning right at the far corner. Which ever route you've taken you will come to a bridge. Turn right the other side of the bridge, then bear left up the embankment of a reservoir. Walk with the reservoir to your right, then bear left to clamber down the embankment at its far side – it can be a bit muddy here at times. Turn half-right to cross another bridge to continue between two fields in a NW direction. On coming to a marker stone, turn half-right (6) to walk in a NNW direction. The path is not always discernible here, but you're making for a stile on the corner of the next field (7). Cross the stile (which has only been here a short while) to resume the NW direction, following the right edge of a field. It can be really muddy towards the far corner of this field. Use another stile to leave the field (although the fence was missing last time I did the walk).

Turn right, then left soon-after to follow the right edge of the next field, coming to a road. Turn left along the road for a few paces, then turn right at a footpath signpost. Walk along the right edge of an orchard. Turn left just before the far corner to walk to the left of a hedge. Turn right through a gap soon to walk along a path between properties to a road. Cross the road to follow a path the other side. Go through a kissing gate to the right of a gate, following the path slightly left then right. Go through a gate, then a kissing gate to the left of another gate to walk along an enclosed path defined by wire fences. Go through a metal kissing gate and walk the short distance, crossing a bridge, to come to a field. Turn right then follow the path to the left, with a hedge to your right. Pass to the right of an orchard, soon coming to a road. The little church at Elmstone is to the right – it doesn't have any dedication which is unusual. Follow the road however in a NW direction. Keep ahead at a junction, following a signpost finger to Elmstone, Preston and Wingham.

The road sweeps round to the right, after which (about 150 metres later) there is a bridleway signposted off to the left. Take this turning (8) to walk along an enclosed path, soon to come out on the left edge of a field. Walk in this direction for about 500 metres, until you come to a crossing of paths (not easy to determine). Turn left through a gap (9) – this is not well defined, but has some yellow and black tape either side at the time of writing. The OS map shows the path going diagonally across the orchard here, but the best way is to walk along the left edge of an orchard, turning right at the far corner. Follow the contour of the boundary, soon going right then left. Look out for a gap to the left soon. Go through it, then clamber down to a metal kissing gate.

Go between the two left trees, then a diagonal path is evident – the gap between the trees is slightly wider where the path is. Walk the short distance through the orchard, turning right for a few paces at the far side. Cross a plank bridge then ascend three steps. The path is at variance with the OS map for a while. It is shown carrying on diagonally, but the best plan here is to turn right after the steps, then left at the corner of the field. Aim for a gap at the far right corner, to emerge on to a lane.

Turn right along the lane. Where a road joins from the right, bear slightly left, to follow a traffic signpost in the direction of Preston, Wingham and Ash. At a T-junction, go straight on through a metal kissing gate (10). Turn right, then walk past five rows of trees in this orchard. The path goes half-left here to walk diagonally through the orchard. Once again, the path being denoted by a wider gap in the trees. At the far side of this orchard, go through a metal kissing gate, cross a plank bridge,  turn left for a few paces, then right through another metal kissing gate. Go through another orchard, once again diagonally – it's easy to pick the path here, as again, it has a wider gap between the trees.

Go through another metal kissing gate, then keep your diagonal route through yet one more orchard – the path seems a bit more wiggly through this one, but there is still a bigger gap through the trees where the path is. At the far side, look out for a block of concrete by a gap. Go through the gap, then walk along the left edge of another orchard. The path on the map goes diagonally, but is non-existant. Keep along the left edge, following the path right at a corner.

At the far corner, go left to descend an enclosed path. Go through a small wooden barrier further on, then turn left onto a shingle path. Bear slightly right soon to come to a road (Preston Hill). Turn left onto the road to descend into Wingham, bearing right onto High Street. Walk the 250 or so metres to turn left into St. Mary's Meadow and back to the car park.

Click here to get an OS map with the route highlighted.
Click here to get a GPX file to load into your GPS gadget. (Right click, then Save As).