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Wye and the North Downs

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Wye and the North Downs
Author: Claire, Published: 23 Jul 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Wye and the North Downs Walking Guide star1 Wye and the North Downs Walking Guide star1 Wye and the North Downs Walking Guide star1 Wye and the North Downs Walking Guide star1 Wye and the North Downs Walking Guide
Kent, North Downs
Walk Type: Hills, valleys and dales
Wye and the North Downs
Length: 5 miles,  Difficulty: boot Wye and the North Downs Walking Guide boot Wye and the North Downs Walking Guide boot Wye and the North Downs Walking Guide
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A 5 mile circular walk in the North Downs, close to Wye village and within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. The route follows a stretch of the North Downs Way with outstanding views and passing the famous hillside chalk crown figure, before dropping down into the beautiful village of Wye, once featured in the BBC TV show, The Perfect Village, and voted as the third best place to live in the UK in a 2013 newspaper review. Beyond the village, the route follows peaceful paths through arable farmland before climbing steeply up the chalk grassland of Wye National Nature Reserve to complete the journey.

The route has several climbs and descents, including one steep final climb back up to the top of the downs. The paths are mostly unmade and, while often firm after dry periods, they can be very muddy after periods of rain and in winter. There are no stiles on route, but you will need to negotiate some gates, kissing gates, squeeze chain gates (which should be fine for all but the broadest of dogs) and steps. The stretch along the North Downs Way crosses the nature reserve and some large hillside pastures which can be holding cattle and/or sheep, so take care with dogs. Of course, the North Downs Way is a well-walked route and the handful of cattle we saw completely ignored us as we walked past with our dog. The whole route is well-walked, but there are a few stretches that are narrow and so are prone to becoming a little overgrown. There are shops, pubs and other facilities in the village, half way round. Allow 2.5 hours.

Wye village is located about 5 miles north east of Ashford in Kent. If you are coming by car, the walk starts from the Wye National Nature Reserve car park, a free open-air car park for about 15 cars on Coldharbour Road. The nearest post code is for a nearby farm, TN25 5HX. From this point, continue along Coldharbour Road (away from Wye village), pass Crown Lodge on your left and you will find the car park on your left, almost immediately afterwards. If this car park is full, you could park in Wye village and adjust the walk to start there. If you are coming by train, Wye village has its own rail station, just pick up the directions from the walk section called Wye Church to Silks Farm Crossroads. If you are coming by bus, there is a bus stop directly outside Wye Church.

Walk Sections

Start to Road Crossing
Start to Road Crossing

Start point: 51.1695 lat, 0.9731 long
End point: 51.173 lat, 0.9699 long

Leave the car park via the middle exit, cross over the road and take the kissing gate directly ahead to enter the chalk hillside of Wye National Nature Reserve. NOTE: You may come across cattle or sheep grazing from this point. With your back to the kissing gate, walk diagonally right (between 1 and 2 o’clock) heading for the large circular animal drinking trough part way down the slope. As you approach this trough, you will come to a T-junction with a grass track along a ridge. Turn right to join this grass track.

From this path, there are superb views down to your left into the heart of the Wye National Nature Reserve steep-sided dry valley. This amazing geological feature is known as the Devil’s Kneading Trough. Follow the grass track first gently downhill and then beginning to climb to reach a lone waymarker post. Swing left here to reach a gate. Do NOT pass through this (it will be our return route), instead turn right and follow the fence line on your left for just a few metres to reach a kissing gate ahead (marked with a North Downs Way waymarker).

Pass through the gate and follow the grass path leading you through the meadow, with a tree belt running on your left. Pass through the next gate and continue on the North Downs Way leading you through a section of woodland. At a small fork, take the wider right-hand branch which leads you through a kissing gate to reach the road.

Road Crossing to Wye Crown
Road Crossing to Wye Crown

Start point: 51.173 lat, 0.9699 long
End point: 51.1813 lat, 0.9629 long

Cross over the road with care, walk ahead into the entrance for Big Coombe Farm for just a few paces and then turn left onto the bridleway (signed as the North Downs Way towards Wye). Go through the next kissing gate and follow the path along the right-hand edge of the hillside field (a sheep pasture), staying close to the fence line on your right. At the end of this first very long field, pass through the kissing gate to enter a second field (a cattle pasture), still following the North Downs Way.

Follow the obvious grass path through this pasture. Just before you reach a bench and fence ahead, turn left down a short grass slope to reach an area with a stone bench and stone memorial plinth. This marks the site just above the figure of a crown carved into the chalk hillside. Wye Crown was carved into the chalk by students at Wye College to commemorate the coronation of Edward VII in 1902. It was illuminated with thousands of tiny lamps on the night of the coronation and also on the Silver Jubilees of George V and Elizabeth II. The crown was camouflaged with brushwood during the Second World War to prevent enemy aircraft using it as an aid to navigation. For now, your best view of the crown will be using the satellite image on the App’s live map, but you will get a real-life view later along the walk.

Wye Crown to Wye Church
Wye Crown to Wye Church

Start point: 51.1813 lat, 0.9629 long
End point: 51.184 lat, 0.9376 long

Facing the hillside crown with your back to the memorial stones, turn right to join the grass path, soon following the line of a fence on your right. In the corner of the pasture, do NOT cross the stile ahead, instead turn right through the chain squeeze gate (you simply need to pull the two sides apart to pass through). Keep straight ahead along the edge of the meadow (with the tree line on your left), pass through the next chain gate and follow the narrow, enclosed path downhill. At the bottom, you will emerge to a quiet tarmac lane.

Turn left along the lane, signed as the North Downs Way. Just after the views open up on your right, look for a fingerpost on your left. Turn left here to join the enclosed path signed as the North Downs Way towards Wye. The path soon enters woodland and leads you first gently and then more steeply downhill. At the bottom, keep ahead on the path leading you along the right-hand edge of a crop field.

At the field end, cross over the quiet lane and go straight ahead to join the stone farm track with a hedgerow on your left and a crop field on your right. At the end of this field, simply keep ahead on the stone track between trees, passing alongside a vehicle gate to reach the end of an access road. Go straight ahead along this small road. At the end, alongside Wye School, go ahead across the road and walk ahead into the access drive (towards a cattle grid) where you will see a fingerpost on your left. Do NOT take the most obvious path alongside the cattle grid, instead fork left to follow the smaller track with a hedgerow on your right.

As you reach the allotment gate ahead, turn left and follow the stone path with the allotments on your right and a tall hedge on your left. At the end, bear diagonally right to join the tarmac path leading you through the churchyard, passing the Church of St Gregory and St Martin on your right. Emerge via the front gate to reach the road in the centre of Wye village.

Wye Church to Silks Farm Crossroads
Wye Church to Silks Farm Crossroads

Start point: 51.184 lat, 0.9376 long
End point: 51.1758 lat, 0.9525 long

(NOTE: If you are arriving by train, turn left out of the station building and follow the pavement over the river. Follow the main road as it swings left and continue until you reach the Church of St Gregory and St Martin on your left. Now follow the directions from this point.)

Standing on the pavement with your back to the church, walk ahead to cross the main road and enter the side road opposite. Join the left-hand pavement and follow this through the heart of the village. Wye once featured in the BBC TV show, The Perfect Village, and was voted as the third best place to live in the UK in a 2013 newspaper review. Cross over one small road, The Green, and continue to the crossroads. At this point we leave the North Downs Way, so turn left, passing Wye Library on your right. Ignore the first turn off to the right, Oxenturn Road. Keep ahead for a few metres further and then, as the main road swings left, fork right into the no-through road, Cherry Garden Lane.

Follow this lane past the cricket club on your right and on between hedgerows and houses. You will emerge to a junction with a residential road. Cross over and go ahead to join the footpath leading you between hedgerows, with open crop fields to your left. Towards the end of the first crop field, look to your left (about 10 o’clock) for a great view of the hillside chalk crown which you passed above earlier on the walk.

At the end of the path, go ahead through the parking area and keep ahead to join a short stretch of quiet lane, passing Withersdane Hall visible across the grounds to your left. The hall was built in the early 1800s as a private residence and includes beautiful grounds and a kitchen garden. The hall was used by the intelligence services during World War II and then became an agricultural college in the 1950s. Today, the hall is used as a private treatment facility for people suffering from depression and addictions.

Where the lane swings right, keep ahead to join the stone track (signed as a footpath to the Wye National Nature Reserve). Keep straight ahead along this stone track, ignoring the private gate on your left and later ignoring a footpath kissing gate on your right. You will now have more great views of Wye Crown across to your left. You will come to a crossroads with a small access lane, with the farm buildings of Silks Farm across to your right.

Silks Farm Crossroads to Amage Road
Silks Farm Crossroads to Amage Road

Start point: 51.1758 lat, 0.9525 long
End point: 51.1675 lat, 0.9655 long

Go straight ahead here, passing alongside the gate and continuing ahead with a tall hedge on your left. You will pass private gardens on your right and then two large crop fields also on your right. At the end of this second large field, stay with the grass path as it dog-legs left and then right, to continue ahead but now with a hedgerow on your right and a crop field on your left.

When the hedgerow on your right ends, simply keep ahead to join the narrow path leading you through the centre of the next crop field (bearing very slightly left, at about 11 o’clock). At the far side, pass through the gap in the hedge and you will emerge directly onto Amage Road.

Amage Road to End
Amage Road to End

Start point: 51.1675 lat, 0.9655 long
End point: 51.1697 lat, 0.9731 long

Turn right for just a few metres and, immediately before the first property on your right, turn left into a stone-covered area to reach an access gate for Wye National Nature Reserve. Pass through the gate and follow the stone path steeply uphill. After just a few metres, you will come to another gate ahead. Do NOT take this, instead turn left along a grass path and then go ahead through a kissing gate (marked with a public footpath arrow). There may be cattle or sheep grazing from this point.

This path now winds steeply uphill through the trees and then open chalk grassland via a long flight of steps. Simply stay with the obvious chalk path and steps all the way up. Whenever you need to pause to catch your breath, there are beautiful views opening up behind you once again. About three-quarters of the way up you will find a stone plinth and an information board, marking a viewpoint, the perfect spot to pause and understand more about your surroundings.

Wye NNR covers 134 hectares of dramatic chalk downland, woodland and scrub grassland. Most of the reserve is owned by Natural England and managed for wildlife and visitors. The tops of the chalk hills offer breathtaking views that are some of the best in Kent. The extensive chalk grassland is one of the best examples of this important habitat in Kent. It is covered in wildflowers and supports several rare plant species, including rare and beautiful orchids. In turn, the variety of plant life supports a vast number of invertebrates, including scarce butterfly species such as the chalkhill blue and the Adonis blue. Fossilised shark teeth have been found here on Wye Downs. They are a reminder that this area of Kent was covered with sea water 85 million years ago.

Continue up the last part of the climb and you will come to a kissing gate ahead (that you passed on the outward leg). Go through this gate and bear right along the grass track to reach a lone waymarker post. Swing right here, following the North Downs grass track along the hillside ridge. When you draw level with the circular animal drinking trough, fork left heading for the kissing gate visible in the top boundary. Go through this kissing gate and cross the road to reach the car park where the walk began.

Remember...the best way of following our walking guides is to use the iFootpath App (iOS and Android) where you will have all the information in the palm of your hand and see your exact location on the live map as you travel. You can also add comments, photos, ratings and track your own routes.

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Text and images for this walk are Copyright © 2017 by iFootpath and the author clairesharpuk and may not be reproduced without permission.


2 Comments for: "Wye and the North Downs"

Super walk - just the right length (5 miles/2.5 hours) and an easy to follow map and directions. We were staying in the village of Wye... so started in the middle of the walk (at the church at Point 3)... but because it was a circular walk this was dead easy. Full marks to whoever wrote the instructions - they were spot on! Great views and lots to see.

By carte1s on 07 Oct 2017

Beautiful walk and really clear instructions. Lots to see along the way with amazing views. Lots of kissing gates so take your chap stick!

By MaddieJ on 24 Sep 2017

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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