Chartham and Lower Hardres

Description: Although quite close to Canterbury, the walk has a rural feel to in all but the last sections. Generally uses well marked paths, mainly across arable land.

O/S Ref: TR111542
Length: 9 miles
Approximate time: 3-3  hours.
Parking: The walk, as described here, starts from Linden Road. This is just off the The Downs, a road between the A28 and the B2068, the latter being the Canterbury to Hythe road.

Refreshments: The Artichoke and The Local in Chartham.

The walk:

Walk to the south end of Linden Road, then turn left onto The Downs. After about 100 metres, climb a stile on the right to descend diagonally across a field to Perry Court, enjoying the views ahead. At the bottom of the path, bear right onto a track, soon walking to the right of Canterbury Steiner School. This one of a group of schools started by the Austrian scientist Rudolph Steiner. The first school was opened in Stuttgart, in 1919. To find out more, visit http://canterburysteinerschool.co.uk/about/history.

Pass to the right of some farm buildings, turning left across a stile just after. Walk diagonally across a field, going through a gate in the centre of the far side. Continue in the same direction to the left edge of a hedgerow, bearing left at it to walk in a SE direction to come to a stile. Cross it, then follow an indistinct path across a meadow bear right towards a white building, eventually coming to another stile. Cross it, then bear slightly right onto a more distinct path, following it to another stile. Turn sharp left after it, to walk about 150 metres, turning right to cross another stile. Take the right of two paths here (1), heading towards Walk Wood.

Enter the wood via a stile initially climbing to cross a path, carrying on in the same (SE) direction to the far side of this narrow belt of trees. Walk along a more enclosed section of the path before emerging onto a drive, eventually coming to a road. Turn left onto it, to follow if for about 400 metres, ignoring all (turning) distractions until a bridleway on the left, just after 30mph speed restriction road-signs.

Walk along the bridleway turning right shortly, then emerge onto the left edge of a field, with Park Wood to the left. Keep ahead at a corner (not following the field-edge right) to walk through a more enclosed part, heading down-hill to a track pass a house with white weather-boarding on its upper level. Go left at a road, following it left at a corner, then look out for a footpath signpost to the right (2).

Turn right here, walk up 5 steps, then aim for a gate to the right of a clump of trees on a mound. Go through said gate to follow a path across a meadow, to go through a gate in the middle of the far side, which abuts a road. Turn right along the road (which can be busy) for short way, following a footpath sign left up a bank. Make for the right end of a hedgerow in front, to bear left after it, following it. At its end, bear slightly right to follow a (sometimes indistinct) path to the far top right corner of a field.

Cross a stile at the corner, then another to the left almost immediately, to walk diagonally across a paddock area. Make your way diagonally across this area, making for a way-marker by a stile. Cross the stile, then walk through what can be an area of dense growth, turning left at its end along the edge of an orchard. Turn half-right at the end of the orchard, to come to a footpath signpost at a road.

Follow the road opposite in a north-easterly direction to come to a path turn left along it (3), down an embankment along an enclosed part, coming to a stile. After the stile, bear right across a meadow, cross another stile on the far boundary. Keep in the same direction, diagonally across a field, go through a gap into an enclosed section, following it to a road.

Turn left at the road to come to a t-junction. Cross the road at this junction to follow a footpath the other side, in a WNW direction for about 700 metres. Turn left at a way-marker, then follow a SSW direction there are gaps in the trees, going right-left, for several rows, coming to another way-marker. Go through a gap here then turn right, coming to a road. Turn right along the road (Iffin Lane part of the course of a Roman road). Turn left at Iffin Meadows Farm (4) to follow a bridleway it can be quite muddy here after long periods of rain. Cross New House Lane after about 800 metres, following a bridleway the other side. Pass to the left of some farm buildings and follow the bridleway until the mettaled section ends, then keep along the grassy path into Larkey Valley Wood.

Turn right onto the main track, soon turning  left (5) at a waymarker to walk in a NW direction. It can be muddy here, and there are deviations from the main path in places. Bear right a bit further along onto another track, then keep left in a while to resume the NW direction. On coming to a lane, turn right for a few paces, then left enjoy the views before we descend.

The path swings right to be just inside a wooded area. Cross a minor road soon, following the path the other side after crossing a stile into another enclosed section, still descending. Walk down some steps to a more major road (Cockering Road), crossing stiles either side. Carry on the descent the other side of the road, coming to a way-marker turn left at it going through a gap into a meadow. Turn right at another way-marker, some 100 meters later. Go through a gap into a hardcore storage area, being guided across it by an abundance of way-markers.

Walk down a flight of fairly steep steps, turning right at another way-mark post along a stony path. On coming to another way-marker, turn left over a bridge, go through a gate then turn left onto the Stour Valley Walk (6). The walking is easy as we follow the Great Stour for the next 1200 metres or so. When the gravel gives way to tarmac, we are approaching Chartham. Pass a weir, which must have been part of a system to divert water from the Stour for a paper mill. There is a disused terrace of houses on the opposite side of the river, presumably workers' cottages for people who worked at the mill in days gone by.

On coming to a road, turn left onto it. Pass to the left of a formidable paper mill building. Chartham Mill started producing paper on this site in 1738. The present building is now used by Arjowiggins, who produce a range of tracing paper.

Follow Rattington Street as it eventually winds uphill, after passing the Artichoke public house. At a t-junction, turn right into Cockering Road (the name should sound familiar). At a roundabout, go straight ahead, using the pedestrian refuge just after to cross to the south side of the road. Head steeply up a bank here, joining a footpath by turning right onto it.

Follow the footpath round to the left, still climbing, to bear right onto the estate at the top. Follow the path left, coming to Linden Road where your car is.



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