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Grove Ferry and Kent’s Orchards

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Grove Ferry and Kent’s Orchards
Author: clairesharpuk, Published: 29 Aug 2012 Walk rating : Rating:star1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar1 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UKstar0 iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
Kent,
Walk Type: Footpaths and byways
Grove Ferry and Kent’s Orchards
Length: 6 miles,  Difficulty: boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK boot iFootpath - walking guides and directions for the UK
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A 6 mile circular walk from the Grove Ferry picnic site, near Upstreet in Kent. The route follows a short section of the River Great Stour and then strikes out across arable fields to reach the pretty village of West Stourmouth, before completing a circuit of the local orchards passing through the village of East Stourmouth and back to the picnic area. Several miles of the walk are through Kent’s orchards and, with a mix of apples, pears, plums and raspberries, it is a great demonstration of why Kent is known as the Garden of England.

The walk is almost entirely flat and follows field and orchard paths, all of which will be muddy after wet weather and can be a little overgrown. There is just one low stile (with adjacent dog gate) which you will cross twice plus a few kissing gates. There are public toilets available at the car park at the start. Approximate time 2.5 to 3 hours.

The walk starts from the Grove Ferry Picnic Site and its adjacent pay and display car park. The car park is accessed from Grove Ferry Road which is off the A28 near Upstreet. Approximate post code CT3 4BP.

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Walk Sections

Start to Road Gate
Start to Road Gate

Start point: 51.3231 lat, 1.2078 long
End point: 51.3198 lat, 1.2148 long

Leave the car park (just outside the picnic area) and pass under the vehicle barrier into the picnic area. Swing right by the toilet block and then turn immediately left between the two information boards to join the tarmac path. Follow the path to reach the river ahead and then swing right to follow the grass path running on top of the embankment with the river on the left.

Grove Ferry is named after the hand drawn ferry that crossed the river at this point. A road bridge replaced the ferry in 1963.

When you reach the fenced area of river bank, skirt right to join the lower and wider grass path still running parallel with the river. Keep ahead as the path narrows through a section of trees and hedgerow and you will pass out through a gate alongside the main road.

Road Gate to Little Stour Bridge
Road Gate to Little Stour Bridge

Start point: 51.3198 lat, 1.2148 long
End point: 51.3194 lat, 1.2259 long

Continue ahead for a few paces and then turn left down the wide track marked with a public footpath sign. Follow this grass track passing a tall white boarded property on the left. Continue as the path bends first right then left between fields.

At the end of the long straight section you’ll come to some metal railings over a drainage ditch to the left. Follow the track here as it once again bends first right then left. The path meets a T-junction with a path running alongside the River Little Stour. Turn left for about 100 yards, and then turn right to cross over the river via the footbridge.

Little Stour Bridge to Dean Farm
Little Stour Bridge to Dean Farm

Start point: 51.3194 lat, 1.2259 long
End point: 51.3157 lat, 1.2341 long

On the far side of the bridge continue straight ahead on the field edge path with the drainage ditch running to the left. Pass through the gate and continue ahead on the fenced path with a tall birch hedge to the right and an orchard beyond it. Pass over the low stile and continue a short distance further to reach a T-junction with the village road.

Turn right onto the village lane and pass by Paddle Dock Manor on the left. Take a moment to admire the ornate clock tower and weather vane on the top of the barn. Continue past the row of pretty cottages on the right and follow the village lane as it bends hard left, passing Sherry Farm on the left. Continue for a few paces more to reach the distinctive red brick barn belonging to Dean Farm on the left.

Dean Farm to Park Road
Dean Farm to Park Road

Start point: 51.3157 lat, 1.2341 long
End point: 51.307 lat, 1.2383 long

Turn right here, marked with a footpath sign, and follow the path passing to the left of the concrete barn. After passing the barn, continue straight ahead on the narrow dirt track between crop fields. At the far side of the crop field, pass through the gap in the beech hedge and continue straight ahead through the centre of the large apple orchard.

When you reach the end of the orchard line, turn left along the far boundary until you come to an arch through the hedge on your right. Pass through this and turn immediately left and follow the path with the hedge to the orchard to the left and a paddock of very friendly pigs on the right! Continue ahead passing a fenced field of sheep also on the right. Turn right at the bottom of this field to follow the bottom edge of the sheep field. At the end of the field you will reach the entrance to Mellands Farm with the main road on the left.

Come out onto the road, with Gables opposite, cross over and turn left walking along the road parallel to the hedgerow you were walking alongside a moment ago. Take care here as there are no pavements. After a short distance turn right through a metal gate marked as a bridleway and pass along this path to the left of a corrugated metal barn.

Pass through the wide metal gate and continue straight ahead on the field edge path for some distance. At the end you will emerge out to a T-junction with a tarmac lane (Park Road) and an orchard opposite.

Park Road to East Stourmouth
Park Road to East Stourmouth

Start point: 51.307 lat, 1.2383 long
End point: 51.3159 lat, 1.2487 long

Turn left along the lane and then keep straight ahead onto Lower Santon Lane. Follow the lane as it swings to the left and then pass through the entrance gate into Santon Farm Cottages. Keep right onto the concrete track. Follow the concrete track as it passes between orchards of plum and apple trees.

Kent is famous for its orchards and is known as the ‘Garden of England’. It is one of the warmest counties of Britain. This warm climate along with the rich and well draining soil makes the area ideal for orchards.

As you reach the barn ahead, follow the dog leg within the track right then left. Further along look out for a waymarker post on the right with multiple footpath arrows, opposite a tall hedge on the left. Turn left here immediately after the hedge and follow the grass path with the hedge on the left. When you come to another beech hedge running across the orchard to the right, turn right immediately in front of it and follow the path with the hedge on the left.

Continue past the gate post and go ahead into the next orchard field, still with the tall trees on the left and a beautiful orchard of conference pears on the right. At the end of the pear orchard swing right and immediately left across a small stream onto a narrow mud footpath between tall hedgerows. The path emerges out opposite the Rising Sun Inn in East Stourmouth.

East Stourmouth to All Saints Church
East Stourmouth to All Saints Church

Start point: 51.3159 lat, 1.2487 long
End point: 51.3202 lat, 1.2363 long

Stourmouth seems oddly named now the mouth of the River Stour is several miles downstream at Pegwell Bay. However when the village was named this was indeed where the river met the sea. In Roman times Stourmouth was probably under water but the waters gradually drained and the land eventually became suitable for cultivation.

Cross over the road and turn right for a few paces and then take the first left into School Lane, marked with a Stour Valley footpath sign. At the end of School Lane turn left, continuing on the Stour Valley Walk and continue as the tarmac lane dwindles to a stone track.

Pass through the metal kissing gate to enter the next orchard and turn immediately right to follow the footpath with the hedgeline to the right. Where the hedgeline ends, continue ahead on the grass track between fields heading for a pair of oast houses behind the trees ahead.

Follow the path swinging gently left then right. Just before you reach the farm outbuildings on the right, fork left onto a narrow tarmac path into the church yard of All Saints’ Church.

All Saints Church to End
All Saints Church to End

Start point: 51.3202 lat, 1.2363 long
End point: 51.323 lat, 1.2096 long

Pass to the left of All Saints’ Church. The church dates from late Saxon times and was substantially rebuilt during the latter half of the 12th century.

As you emerge from the church yard turn left along the village lane. Continue ahead along Church Lane passing Brewery Square on the left, the site of a brewery from around 1845 to the early 1900s.

Immediately after Plough Cottage on the right, turn right onto the footpath. From this point you are retracing your steps back to the start. Go ahead over the low stile and continue through the gate, across the field and cross over the Little Stour Bridge.

Turn left and then take the first right. Follow the track as it winds between the fields heading for the very tall white weatherboarded house on the horizon. Pass by the house to reach the road. Turn right and pass through the gate and then follow the wide grass path nearest the river on the right all the way back to the car park.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2012 by the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


3 responses to "Grove Ferry and Kent’s Orchards"

Walked this on 6th October 2013. This is a very good description of the walk. the only difficulty was with the concrete bridge mentioned at the "Road Gate to Little Stour Bridge section. The concrete bridge is taped off and is unlikely to be used again soon . To get over the river you have to walk about 1/4 mile further along the river to a pumpin station cross over there then walk back to the other side of the concrete bridge. No hardship really.

Paul

By Paul6756 on 2013-10-13 15:10:27

Arrived to find a substantial part of the footpath temporarily closed for repairs until Spring 2015. Worth checking before you set out.

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thanks for letting us know Rosie, we've added a note to the walk to warn other walkers and we have emailed Kent CC to find out the details and re-opening dates.

ADMIN UPDATE NOV 2015: We have received confirmation from Kent CC that Grove Ferry Bridge has now been repaired and the footpaths are open once again.

By Rosie on 2015-01-25 11:30:04

The concrete bridge mentioned, has now been replaced by a wooden bridge and is fully open now. Sept '16

ADMIN RESPONSE: Thank you so much for letting us know. We have updated the description so that future walkers have the latest facts. We really appreciate your help in keeping the iFootpath guides up to date.

By Tuscaneer on 2016-09-22 16:05:51

The information in this guide has been provided in good faith and is intended only as a guide, not a statement of fact. You are advised to check the accuracy of the information provided and should not use this guide for navigational directions nor should you rely on the accuracy of the weather forecast. You are advised to take appropriate clothing, footwear, equipment and navigational materials with you according to the current and possible weather and nature of the terrain. Always follow the country code and follow any additional warnings or instructions that may be available. Some walks may be very strenuous and you are advised to seek medical advice if you have any doubts as to your capability to complete the walk.

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