North Downs Way:
Dunn Street to Etchinghill
1 February 2009
Well, it is seven months since Stephen last visited the North Downs Way.
With Lucy taking George to a dog show in Maidstone, Stephen took the opportunity
of a lift towards the eastern end, near Ashford, to make inroads into the only
section of the mainline of the NDW yet to be walked. With George being at the show, Ellie being in season and Henry not up
to walk of this length, it was a dog-less walk for the first time in ages. The weather forecast was
for barely above freezing with fairly strong winds taking the windchill well
below freezing, and perhaps the odd snow flurry.
The red glow of the sun as I cross fields just east of Dunn Street
Sheep above Eastwell Lake
The only "Grand Randonee" or E2 sign I've seen on the North Downs Way, despite
the fact that we've been following the E2 (which comes from Galway via Stranraer)
Another foreign language sign
Here the alternative route of the North Downs Way leaves the main line,
travelling to Dover via Canterbury. For now its full speed for Dover the direct route.
Crossing the railway line at Wye
The Great Stour at Wye
The squat tower of the church at Wye, from which the sound of bells had been
reaching me for some time.
After a little diversion to pick up extra supplies at the Co-op in Wye, I pass
one of the buildings of the Wye Campus of Imperial College
Heading uphill away from the valley of the Great Stour onto the North Downs
escarpment proper for the first time this morning, and the sun has come out
Wye Crown, which commemorates the coronation of King Edward VI in 1902
A climb through the woods onto the top of the escarpment
Looking back to Wye from above the Crown
A milestone (though I don't quite agree with the distances).
In Wye National Nature Reserve, looking down a combe from the top of Broad Downs
- I think this is probably the combe known as the Devil's Kneading Trough. The
Reserve boasts 28 butterfly species, 400 plant species, 90 bird species and over
2000 insect species.
Above Brabourne Downs, a hedge has been newly laid
And from near there, I get my first glimpse of the sea somewhere between Hythe
The white blobs blowing quickly past the camera lens are snowflakes, which have
been gently falling for about an hour now.
The Pilgrims Way now makes its way through Long Wood above Brabourne.
Ships out to sea
The snow stops and the sun comes out
But not for long
Near Postling, the escarpment edge takes a very convoluted course which makes
for interesting walking
Looking through the snow to Postling
Approaching Staple Farm, the snow starts to fall in earnest, and the wind gets
Gaining height again as I climb Tolsford Hill
Windswept trees on Tolsford Hill. It was now feeling very cold.
Descending into Etchinghill
The pub in Etchinghill, where Lucy had arrived some thirty seconds before me. A
flat mobile phone battery had meant that my total communication with her had
been a voicemail message from me at a pub almost two hours earlier in Stowting,
and nothing at all from her to me, so our
mutual timing was very good in the circumstances.
Lucy in the pub car park after we had had a quick drink.
A really nice walk, despite the cold weather (falling to minus two by the end
with winds of 30 mph). It would have been even better of course in nice weather
with good visibility, but it was very enjoyable. (George got fifth out of five
at the dog show.)
Total distance on the GPS was 26.3 km (24.1 km on the Way) with 523m ascent, in
5 hours 51 minutes - that means that about 90% of the
North Downs Way is now walked.