Link to main content

Jay Walking

North Downs Way: Dover to Canterbury

I got to Dover around 9:40 am, a pretty late start considering I had around 30 kilometres to walk today, but that is the problem with transport on a Sunday. I'd taken the first high speed train from St Pancras so there was no earlier option apart from the very slow train from Victoria. I quickly picked up the trail and followed it out of Dover, this did not take long, and soon I leaving the town via a cemetery and and a a small metalled track that gradually rose to the top of the downs. There were a few people about mainly dog walkers and once a group of 8 or so trail bikers came roaring towards me.

After crossing the A2 I continued on bridleways either along the edge of or through fields, some newly planted with wheat and others with turnips or sometimes broadbeans. This was to be the theme for the day, as the route crossed a huge amount of farmland with little variation, though there was the occasional road to cross. The days progress could easy be tracked by ticking of the farms that were passed. From the A2 I passed Great Pineham and Little Pineham farms, at the latter I was greeted by a collie running out and barking at me, though I didn't mind, the owner was holding back a Jack Russell who wanted to come over and join in the fun. The route followed the course of a Roman road from the outskirts of Dover, until Maydensole Farm, where it headed off westwards towards Shepherdswell village.

Path crossing fields with a wood in the distance
A brown horse with a white stripe on its head

Some way after Maydensole farm the route crossed a busy road and went through an ancient church with a lichgate and proceeded past Walderslade House and through Walderslade Park, where there was a sculpture, part of the North Downs Way Arts Trail. I'd walked past some of these sculptures without realising they were part of this installation, but this was obvious. The sculpture here took the form of a cupola which had previously adorned the top of a local folly called The Belvedere which was visible.

Wooden Lichgate
Walderslade House
A square shaped folly in the distance
Artwork in the form of seating in the shape of round copula

The village of Shepherdswell was a short distance from the sculpture and I dropped by the local pub to have a drink and a rest to discover that it was closed, so I had to make do with my coffee and sandwiches on a bench. I was already feeling tired but there was still a long way to go, about 16km, so after a short break I set off again. The route skirted the village and then crossed a number of fields on easy terrain, passing the small village of Woolage and a few farms before reaching Barham Downs, where I managed to miss a turn off, though it was an easy mistake to fix. The signage along this part of the North Downs Way looked fairly new with new posts and signs evident, so the mistake was probably due to user error on my part.

Church at Shepherdswell
Bridleway with hedgerows on either side

Heading on through some large fields the route passed close to the busy A2, eventually carry on above and beside it. An 87 room Georgian building called Higham mansion was here, mostly hidden by trees, it had seen some famous visitors in its time including Mozart and Jane Austin. From here it was a short walk to the village of Patrixbourne, another one of those English country villages, entirely composed of ancient wooden beamed houses. It was a only another hour from here to Canterbury, with about 5 km or so left to go, I was getting tired by now but could last another hour. Once out of Patrixbourne the route to Canterbury consisted of a single bridleway and I was soon on the outskirts of the city, going down the Dover road, past Augustine's Abbey and then down a cobbled street to the Cathedrals entrance. I was very familiar with this place having lived here some years ago, with very fond memories of my time here, even better I'd arranged to visit some friend and it was a short walk to their house and a well earned beer.

tree lined path above the A2
Patrixbourne church

The content of external links cannot be quaranteed but was correct at the time of writing