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) since Guildford.

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 and Dymchurch.

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 stronger.

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.

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Unless otherwise stated, all images copyright (c) Stephen and Lucy Dawson