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Ham Street Woods Circuit

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Ham Street Woods Circuit
Author: Claire, Published: 24 Jul 2017 Walk Rating:star1 Ham Street Woods Circuit Walking Guide star1 Ham Street Woods Circuit Walking Guide star1 Ham Street Woods Circuit Walking Guide star1 Ham Street Woods Circuit Walking Guide star1 Ham Street Woods Circuit Walking Guide
Kent, Hamstreet
Walk Type: Woodland
Ham Street Woods Circuit
Length: 2 miles,  Difficulty: boot Ham Street Woods Circuit Walking Guide
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A 2 mile circular easy access walk around Ham Street Woods on the edge of Hamstreet village in Kent. Ham Street Woods is a National Nature Reserve, an ancient woodland and a remnant of a continuous oak forest that once covered the Weald. There are beautiful trees to enjoy throughout, carpets of woodland flowers such as wood anemones and bluebells in the spring, weird and wonderful fungi in the autumn and lots of wildlife to discover.

The woodland has many paths and very few landmarks meaning it is easy to get lost, so we strongly recommend using the iFootpath App’s live GPS map to help with navigation. The walk follows mostly unmade paths and tracks through the woodland with gentle to moderate gradients. These firm up nicely in dry summer periods, but can be very muddy after periods of rain and in winter (when wellies would be recommended). You will need to negotiate one simple bridle gate (of generous width), but there are no stiles, steps, kissing gates or livestock on route. Some of the paths, even when dry, can have shallow pot holes and ruts, but the route would be suitable for rugged pushchairs and rugged disability buggies after dry periods. Dogs are welcome in the woodland, in fact it is a popular dog walking spot. Allow 1 hour.

Hamstreet village is located about 6 miles south of Ashford in Kent. If you are coming by car, there is a stone parking area (for about 8 cars) directly alongside the woodland entrance. This is accessed at the end of Bourne Lane. The post code TN26 2HP will take you close to the junction between Ruckinge Road (a one-way street) and Bourne Lane. From this point, turn left into Bourne Lane and continue to the end to find the parking area. If you are coming by train, Hamstreet rail station is just a half-mile walk from the woodland entrance. Leave the station via the car park, turn left along Ashford Road (under the rail bridge) then turn left into Lancaster Close. Take the first road branch on the right and this will lead you to Bourne Lane. Turn left to reach the car park at the end of Bourne Lane.

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Walk Sections

Start to Northern Crossroads
Start to Northern Crossroads

Start point: 51.0682 lat, 0.8581 long
End point: 51.0766 lat, 0.8666 long

Enter Ham Street Woods via the bridle gate, signed as a bridleway and part of the Saxon Shore Way. Cross the wide concrete bridge to reach an immediate junction of paths with a noticeboard and several waymarkers. Turn left at this junction and follow the wide track into the beautiful woodland.

Ham Street Woods was designated as a National Nature Reserve in 1952, one of the first designated reserves. It is one of the finest stretches of ancient lowland forest in southern England, once part of the great forest that covered the whole Weald. Oak, sweet chestnut, birch, aspen and hornbeam (a very hard wood once used for making cogs) flourish in the higher parts of the site, whilst in the damper soil of the valleys ash, hawthorn, hazel and alder are found. Wild Service, or chequer trees are also found in the woods; they are an indicator of ancient woodland.

At the first fork, ignore the path signed off to the right (the Saxon Shore Way), instead stay ahead on the main track. At the second and third forks, again take the left-hand branches which lead you ahead through the woodland. Further along, ignore a path off to the left (across a stone bridge), instead stay with the main footpath which bears right and then left, climbing steadily.

The path soon descends gently to cross a small stream, before climbing again to continue its journey. Continue just until you reach a small crossroads of paths. There is a waymarker post denoting this (just ahead on your right), although this can be hidden by bracken in the summer. This is the crossroads at the northern point of today’s route.

Northern Crossroads to Bridleway T Junction
Northern Crossroads to Bridleway T Junction

Start point: 51.0766 lat, 0.8666 long
End point: 51.0734 lat, 0.8705 long

Turn right at this crossroads and, after just a few metres alongside the next waymarker, stay with the path as it swings right, heading back south. The path leads you steadily downhill, crosses a small stream and then climbs to reach a crossroads of paths (with a waymarker). Turn left and follow this side path running through the trees.

Ham Street Woods is home to rare moths and butterflies, rare breeding birds such as hawfinch, and two protected species, the great crested newt and the dormouse. In spring, the floor of the woods is filled with primrose, white wood anemones and bluebells, whilst autumn is the perfect time for appreciating the fabulous fungi and autumnal leaves.

Further along, you will pass a woodland pool on your left (marked with a Danger Deep Water sign). Simply keep ahead and the path soon leads you steadily downhill. At the small fork, take the right-hand branch and after just a few paces you will come to a T-junction with a wide forest track. If you glance to your left here you will see a circular blue arrow waymarker, as this is a bridleway track.

Bridleway T Junction to End
Bridleway T Junction to End

Start point: 51.0734 lat, 0.8705 long
End point: 51.0683 lat, 0.8581 long

Turn right to join the bridleway track (downhill), passing a bench on your right and soon arriving at a fork. Take the left-hand branch, still following the circular blue bridleway arrow. This bridleway is part of both the Greensand Way and Saxon Shore Way long distance paths. Towards the bottom of the slope you will come to the next waymarker, where a path joins from the right. Go ahead here and soon afterwards you will come to a major fork in the track.

Take the right-hand branch still following the circular blue arrow (not the smaller arrows which show the local trails). You will come to a crossroads in the track. At this point we leave the Greensand Way, so turn left and follow the track uphill to reach a crossroads with a bench. Turn right here and follow the wide grass avenue.

At the next crossroads (also with a bench), go straight ahead and continue to reach Peter’s Bench on your left. A few paces later, just before the main path narrows to enter a section of coppiced trees, turn right. Keep ahead on this path, ignoring a footpath to the left, and it will lead you directly back to the gate alongside 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 the author clairesharpuk 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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