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Wednesday, 10 May 2017

Wednesday Walk Bluebells and Country Pubs

SWC 121 Bekesbourne Circular w/a Canterbury Start (and possible finish) T=swc.121

Distance:  13.7 Miles or 22 km for those more metrically minded

Difficulty:  2 out of 10

Train:  Take the 10:08 AM Margate train from London St. Pancras, arriving at Canterbury at 11:08. Return trains from Bekesbourne are at 43 minutes past the hour until 16:43; then 14 minutes past the hour until 19:14; then 19:43 and 20:28. Alternatively, we could also explore ending back in Canterbury with regular service back to London or do the Sturry ending (which would be shorter)…. Buy a day return to Bekesbourne for flexibility….
I thought we might explore a new start to this walk from Canterbury and by doing so reduce the train journey (and lengthen the walk).  The thought being that we could basically follow the North Downs Way from Canterbury and cut over to Bekesbourne at Patrixbourne which all looks fairly clear on the map and is not unpleasant from recollections of doing that stretch of the NDW last autumn.  We would then carry on with the instructions as written with a delightful choice of lovely country pubs from we can choose to have our elevensies, lunch and afternoon refreshies…..  There should also be ample bluebells still on display around Fordwich.  From Fordwich there would be a further choice to carry on with the instructions to either Bekesbourne or Sturry or, alternatively, it could be possible to explore a route back into Canterbury…. The Bekesbourne ending needs careful timing given the hourly train service and lack of amenities near the station…. You can find more information about the walk and download the walk instructions here.

We are spoiled for choice on this walk for lunch pubs.  The recommended options are the Rose Inn in Wickhambreaux (01227 721 763) – 6.1 miles/ 10 km into the walk; the Duke William (01227 721 308) in Ickham (requiring a short diversion) – 6.5 miles/10.5 km into the walk or the Red Lion in Stodmarsh – serving food until 2:30pm (01227 721 339) – 7.5 miles/12.2 km into the walk. Please do call ahead with numbers…. Tea and other late afternoon refreshments can be had at the Fordwich Arms pleasantly located overlooking the Stour River – but make sure you time departures accordingly for the Bekesbourne and Sturry endings.

Enjoy the walk!

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

🐾🐾 Max and me hoping to come on this lovely walk! ☮

Walker said...

N=12 and one well-behaved dog on this walk on a lovely w=sunny day (we will not mention a slight chilly breeze at times). The idea of making this a Canterbury Circular was an interesting one and will be written up in due course for other SWC-ers to try. A nice start through the historic town centre, some shrugging off of the suburbs, then flat farmland which slowly got more picturesque.

It was once we got onto the old Bekesbourne Circular route that things got really scenic, however. Wickhambreaux in particular is picture-perfect. One half expects Elizabeth Bennet to come striding out of one of the houses on its village green. Instead the Rolls belonged to someone from the Great British Bake-Off who I had never heard of, who was drinking outside the pub.

A nice lunch here in the garden under blue skies and after a chat with the staff at the strawberry (and, it turned out, raspberry) farm, it seemed a shame not to stop for "refreshies" at the Red Lion in idyllic Stodmarsh too. "I was just saying I was a bit bored" said the girl behind the door when a gaggle of customers suddenly materialised. The walk directions say this pub "has a pleasant garden full of chirping birds". They are still there. The noise was deafening.

Towards Fordwich we found a bluebell wood with plenty still out - a nice surprise. I heard a reed warbler scolding away in the Stour reed beds. The somewhat blokey Fordwich Arms laughed when asked for tea but produced pots and dainty China cups. We drank it in their lovely riverside garden.

Some left us here to get the train from Sturry: the rest of us set out to follow the Stour Valley Walk into Canterbury. This is a confident path on the map but more timid in reality: a squeeze through sometimes gloomy trees and shrubs which blocked out the evening sun. Towards the city the path gets lost in a maze of paths and mountain bike tracks: waymarks dried up here. It seemed longer than 4km to me, but eventually we were safe and sound in the Parrot in Canterbury having dinner. As we walked to the station for the 8.25, swifts screamed overhead.