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Historic Hythe

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Historic Hythe
Author: Clive Thompson , Published: 22 Sep 2018 Walk Rating:star0 Historic Hythe - Walking Guidestar0 Historic Hythe - Walking Guidestar0 Historic Hythe - Walking Guidestar0 Historic Hythe - Walking Guidestar0 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide
Kent, Hythe
Walk Type: History trail
Historic Hythe
Length: 3 miles,  Difficulty: boot Historic Hythe - Walking Guide boot Historic Hythe - Walking Guide
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This is a circular walk of around 3 miles around Hythe town in Kent, visiting St Leonard’s Church and Ossuary, the shops and inns of the High Street, the Royal Military Canal and local history rooms. It also takes you along the seafront promenade to Fisherman’s Beach and a view of the historic Martello Towers.

It is all on well-made roads and paths but there is a long and steep ascent, then descent, at the beginning. Apart from some steps there are no obstacles and it is fairly easy walking. At a leisurely pace and with time for viewing the sights you should allow 1.5 hours, plus any extended time you want to spend at the church or the history rooms.

The walk starts and finishes in Red Lion Square where all buses stop, either from Folkestone and Dover in one direction or Romney and Dymchurch in the other. The National Express coach service from London to Dover also stops in Red Lion Square. There is also a pay and display car park behind the Red Lion pub on the other side of the canal by the green. This can be accessed via Portland Road, off Dymchurch Road. Approximate post code for car park CT21 6JB.

Walk Sections

Start to St Leonard's Church
Start to St Leonard's Church

Start point: 51.0711 lat, 1.0802 long
End point: 51.0727 lat, 1.084 long

In Red Lion Square the walk starts where you see a blue water fountain and telephone box opposite the Red Lion pub. There is also a Hythe Heritage Trail information board next to the fountain. Whilst we will not strictly be following this trail, you will see a number of similar info boards during the walk.

From Red Lion Square take the road that leads past the Globe Inn and continue up Malthouse Hill with the Malthouse building on your right. This building hosts an antique and collectibles fair each Friday and Saturday. At the top of Malthouse Hill turn right into Bartholomew Street and take the second left into Church Hill where you see another info board.

You will now be faced with a steep climb, which includes some steps to help. Keep going up, walking past the cemetery and church grounds until you reach the top at North Road, where there is a handy bench for a rest. Turn right along North Road and take in the lovely views of the church with the town and coast in the background.

Immediately after the church, drop back down by way of a footpath that runs between two cemetery areas. At the bottom of this path turn right. If you immediately look to your right over the stone wall of the church you will just about be able to see the arch of the entrance to the ossuary (bonehouse).

Although it has limited opening times this is a fascinating place to visit, and is one of only two in England, the other being in Rothwell Northamptonshire. It contains over 1,000 skulls and numerous other bones said to be the remains of around 4,000 people. There are various theories as to how they came to be there, from being the remains of Danish pirates, those who fell in the Battle of Hastings or victims of the Black Death. The remains have been dated to the 12th to 15th Centuries.

A little further on and you will come to the entrance to St. Leonards’ Church itself, which is open to visitors.

St Leonard's Church to Three Posts Lane
St Leonard's Church to Three Posts Lane

Start point: 51.0727 lat, 1.084 long
End point: 51.0718 lat, 1.0823 long

Descend down the path opposite the church entrance and turn left onto Hillside St, noting the Old Manor House and cottage. Continue on Hillside as it winds downwards until you turn sharp right into Dental Street.

Follow this road as it takes you past the back of two inns, the Swan and the White Hart. Note the old stone walls and a white building on the right called Centuries, where the original structure is believed to date back to 1107.

Walk past Church Hill, feeling lucky not to have to walk up it again, and look for a path on the left called Three Posts Lane. Take this path as it drops down to the High Street.

Three Posts Lane to Twiss Road Bridge
Three Posts Lane to Twiss Road Bridge

Start point: 51.0718 lat, 1.0823 long
End point: 51.0708 lat, 1.0924 long

Turn left at the bottom of Three Posts Lane into the High Street. We will now walk to the end of the High Street taking in historic inns like the Swan, the White Hart and the Butt of Sherry. Look for the columns of the Town Hall building on the left, with its ornate clock above. Spot Torbay of Hythe, a popular fish & chip shop, and Eldridges drapery store which has been trading for 250 years. There are also a number of antique, collectibles and charity shops on the High Street to browse. Towards the end on the right you will see a small micropub called The Potting Shed.

At the top of the High Street make sure you are on the left-hand pavement, cross the road and head up East Street (essentially straight on from the High Street over the roundabout). Follow this road until you get to the Bell Inn.

This is believed to be the oldest pub in Hythe, dating back to the 15th Century, and is a Grade II listed building. It is said that The Grey Lady, the ghost of a former proprietor haunts the pub cellar and that the ghosts of two murdered revenue men can sometimes be seen sitting at the inglenook fireplace.

Turn right at the pub, cross the main road and head up Twiss Road immediately opposite. Keep to the right-hand side and, as you approach the bridge, you will see two paths leading to the right. Ignore these, walk a little further and you will see a third path just before the bridge. Take this path which leads down to the canal (it doesn’t really matter which of these three paths you take as they all arrive more or less at the same spot).

Twiss Road Bridge to Local History Rooms
Twiss Road Bridge to Local History Rooms

Start point: 51.0708 lat, 1.0924 long
End point: 51.0695 lat, 1.083 long

This is part of the Royal Military Canal, built between 1804 and 1809 to guard against the threat of invasion by Napoleon’s armies. It starts in Hythe and runs for 28 miles ending near Hastings. This part of the canal plays host to a Venetian Fete, when the banks on either side will be filled with spectators watching a tableaux of decorated floats and a firework display. On the left you will see a platform where the local dignitaries sit. This event dates back to 1890 and is held every two years (in odd numbered years) on the third Wednesday in August.

Walk along the towpath (with the canal on your left) and, at the next bridge, take the steps up the bank. At the top you will see sculptures commemorating the navvies who helped to build the canal and a war memorial with some seating. Cross the canal via Ladies Walk Bridge and turn right towards the boat hire shed. Go past the entrance to the Hythe Bowling Club and immediately take the path on your left, which takes you into Oaklands Park with its bandstand.

Follow this path until it comes out into a car park (with another heritage board) and turn left walking past the council offices to the library. Inside the library you will find the local history rooms, which chart the story of Hythe through the ages and tell of its history as one of the Cinque Ports. It is only a small display and won't take long to have a look around.

Local History Rooms to Fisherman's Beach
Local History Rooms to Fisherman's Beach

Start point: 51.0695 lat, 1.083 long
End point: 51.0643 lat, 1.0787 long

As you leave the library turn right and right again, taking a path between two buildings. This brings you into Stade Street where you should turn left and walk to the end. There is a small shop on the way, if you want to pick up supplies, and a pub called the Hope Inn.

At the end of Stade Street you will be at the coast and you should turn right and walk along the promenade (Marine Parade) with its shingle beach. Out over the water you should be able to spot the outline of Dungeness Power Station, and on a clear day maybe even the French coast.

Immediately ahead in the distance you will see two round structures. These are Martello Towers, small defensive forts. These are just two of the 103 that were built around the same time as the Royal Military Canal in the early 1800s as a defence against a possible French invasion. They stretch from Seaford in Sussex to Aldeburgh in Suffolk.

As you get to the end of the promenade you will get a better view of the Martello Towers across Fisherman’s Beach. It is possible to walk to the towers, but be aware that this is a working beach so take care when walking as there will be many boats and trip hazards. But the biggest hazard, if you want to take the path past the towers, is that you are also entering a firing range. If you look to the right of the towers you should be able to see the numbered targets. There are plenty of warning signs and information about firing times. Generally, if you want to walk that path it’s better to do so early morning, as firing usually starts around 9am.

Fisherman's Beach to End
Fisherman's Beach to End

Start point: 51.0643 lat, 1.0787 long
End point: 51.071 lat, 1.0801 long

At the end of the promenade you should turn right and walk along St Leonards Road. As you pass the Hythe Sports and Social Club you should cross Cinque Ports Avenue and take the marked footpath diagonally across the green. This will bring you to the car park on Portland Road.

To get back to Red Lion Square, cross Portland Road and follow the path between the canal and the old Dukes Head pub then turn right as it crosses the canal. You will now be coming into Red Lion Square where the walk ends.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2018 by iFootpath and the author CliveT and may not be reproduced without permission.


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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10 gallery images for "Historic Hythe"

11730_0CliveT1537628160 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 22 Sep 2018
The Malthouse Arcade, which hosts an antiques fair on Fridays and Saturdays
11730_adminv1565 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 22 Sep 2018
Church Hill, keep going!
11730_0CliveT1537628472 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 22 Sep 2018
The grounds of St Leonard's Church
11730_0CliveT1537628517 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 22 Sep 2018
The arched entrance to the ossuary seen over the church walls
11730_0CliveT1537628626 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 22 Sep 2018
Commemorating those who helped build the canal
11730_0CliveT1537628721 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 22 Sep 2018
The Story of Hythe in the Local History Rooms at the library
11730_adminv1570 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 22 Sep 2018
The promenade, Marine Parade
11730_0CliveT1537701071 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 23 Sep 2018
The Malthouse, at the beginning of the walk
11730_0CliveT1537701121 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 23 Sep 2018
The sloping grounds of St. Leonard's Church
11730_0CliveT1537701253 Historic Hythe - Walking Guide Image by: Clive Thompson
Uploaded: 23 Sep 2018
Celebrating the navvies who helped build the canal

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