A short walk starting from a church, seemingly in the middle of nowhere. A pleasant mix of tracks, arable land and woodland are here in equal measure.
O/S ref: TR129607
Length: 5 miles
Approximate time: 2 – 2¼ hours
Parking: At parking area by St Cosmus & St Damian church. This is at the end of a lane from the road between Canterbury Hill / Wood Hill and Blean village. Postcode CT2 9HU
Refreshments: Tyler’s Kiln public house in Tyler Hill (check that it's open). Also, lots of choice in Canterbury.
Black spots: Warning - Parts of this walk are awkward during crop growing. The path between Well Court (TR135620) and Hackington Road (TR139625) can be nigh on impossible, certainly if you have bare legs!
It's worth bearing in mind that part of West Blean Wood is currently subject to Wilding (you'll know where, as you will go through gates with notice boards on them). This means that if you have dogs, they must be on a lead on the appropriate sections. Also, if you come across any wildlife, you will need to keep your distance. To know more, go to Wilder Blean.
From the parking area, walk through the churchyard, walk round the west end of the church making for a gate on the far side. Go through the gate, then turn left onto a track. This is a well used right of way, by joggers, cyclists and… even walkers! Soon, cross a road to continue on a byway the other side.
Keep left where the byway heads off to the right, to go through a gate, walking on the right side of a field, soon with an orchard the other side of the hedge. There’s a choice soon – either turn right where the hedge ends on the right or keep ahead. The latter is where this narrative is going, however. If you didn’t turn right, keep ahead, coming to a farmyard. Bear slightly right here, taking the right of two paths. Almost immediately, there is a path to the right which we want (1). Cross a footbridge, then follow a path which becomes slightly more enclosed, before coming to an orchard.
Turn right here, thereby keeping the orchard to your left and a hedge to your right. Where the hedge ends, bear left to walk between fields. This is the point you would have emerged, had you taken the first path right as described earlier. Keep ahead soon, to the left of a wooded area. Go through a gap at the far corner, which crosses the course of the old Canterbury and Whitstable Railway (locally known as the Crab and Winkle Line). It was closed in 1952.
Keep ahead towards an external corner of the adjacent field, to a point between the two trees on the right of a row. The path becomes enclosed for a while, becoming tarmacked soon, where it becomes part of the access road to Well Court. The tarmac soon gives way to a more rustic path. Walk to the left of some farm buildings, turn left for a few paces at the far corner, then bear right to follow a path, keeping a ditch to your right. Go under a power line just to the right of a pylon.
Keep ahead after the field ends, to eventually emerge onto Hackington Road, then turn left. It can be quite busy here at times, but there’s a modicum of safety which can be sought, walking along the left verge! Follow the road for about 150 metres, then turn right into Thornden Wood Road in the direction of a sign to Greenhill. Keep along the road, ignoring the first two footpath signposts right, but take the next, a couple of metres before a chevron sign (2).
Here starts a long spell through woodland, which will be quite welcome on a hot summers day. The path can be a bit indistinct on occasion, certainly during autumn and early winter, as there will be a cushion of leaves underfoot. Cross another path at a glade, then continue to a way-marker, which is about 900 metres from where you turned off the road. Turn right here (3), to walk along a slightly more major path, boggy nonetheless at times. Bear slightly right at another way-marker, then walk over a couple of humps in the ground.
The path descends after a while, then crosses a stream before ascending. There can be water streaming down here after rain, and it can be quite slippery. Cross another stream, over a more substantial bridge than the first one, then ascend more rapidly. About 300 metres further on, turn right under a power line (4). The path here can be quite narrow here at times but soon opens up to be wider.
After about 700 metres, just before a road, turn left on a path which runs parallel to the road (5). The path soon opens up to be a track, which is for access to properties in Tyler Hill. Just after passing a recreation area on the left, turn right at a signpost into the village. Cross a road, then use a footpath on the opposite side.
Turn left then right, to walk around the perimeter of a car park. The path becomes enclosed, with a wooden fence to the right and a hedge to the left initially, the fence gives way to a metal fence, before coming to another road. Turn right on the road for a few paces, then turn left at a footpath signpost (6). Walk to the right of a gate, then use a kissing gate to the right of another gate. Walk across a meadow, up a slight incline to another kissing gate. Go down some steps to cross the disused Canterbury-Whitstable line again, then up steps the other side. Cross a stile, then walk to the right of two trees which are close together, climbing another stile.
Bear slightly right after this stile – the path is not always immediately apparent here, but over the brow of the hill, you’ll be able to see another stile (7). Cross this, turn right for a couple of paces then cross a bridge to follow a way-marker the other side. Just the field you’re on now, between you and St Cosmus & St Damian’s Church and the start of the walk.