A new waymarked walk exploring the Blean Woods, north of Canterbury, opened in May 2012.
The Big Blean Walk is a 25 mile circular walk through one of the largest and most distinctive areas of ancient woodland in England. The Walk, combined with 18 new interpretive panels, promotes The Blean to visitors and locals, inviting people to explore a world of history and nature.
The Walk has been developed by the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership as a member of the Blean Initiative, which is a partnership of landowners, local authorities, parish councils, conservation bodies and community groups that look after and promote The Blean. The Big Blean Walk is part funded by Heritage Lottery and the Kent Wildlife Trust and The Landscape and Nature for All Project
Ian Brown, Chair of the Blean Initiative Group says ‘This walk provides a great way to explore this area and helps bring a sense of identity to a part of Kent, which we are all trying to enhance and enjoy’.
The symbol for the Walk is the Heath Fritillary butterfly, one of Britain’s rarest and perhaps The Blean’s greatest conservation success story. Close to extinction in the late 1980s, the Heath Fritillary colonies in The Blean are now some of the country’s largest.
John Bennett, Chief Executive of Kent Wildlife Trust says “The Big Blean Walk is an opportunity to see dramatic landscapes in one of the country’s most important and historic woodlands. Rediscover our countryside and celebrate the wildplaces on your doorstep. We all owe a debt to The Heritage Lottery Fund and many people of Kent who have contributed to the huge amount of work that is making these changes possible.”
A free colourful (printer friendly version) walk guide with a map and information about the history and nature of The Blean can be be downloaded here. It can also be obtained from the Canterbury Visitor Information Centre on Stour Street; Faversham Tourist Information Centre; the Horsebridge Community Centre in Whitstable and Macari’s Information Point in Herne Bay.
The walk can be done either starting from the west end – Selling Railway Station or the east end – East Blean Wood National Nature Reserve Car Park on Hicks Forstall Road near Hoath. Starting from Selling Railway Station the route goes through orchards to South Blean Woods, owned by Kent Wildlife Trust, where the route splits North and South. The South Route joins the North Downs Way and passes through No Man’s Orchard and touches Bigbury Camp before heading over the A2 to Willows Wood and the RSPB managed Blean Woods National Nature Reserve. It then follows the Sarre Penn stream, locally known as the Fishbourne stream, before heading through Tyler Hill and Great Hall Wood to Cole Wood and then to KWT’s West Blean Wood and eventually to East Blean Wood.
The North Route goes from Court Wood to Forester’s Lodge Farm before heading over the A2 to Dunkirk. The Walk passes through the RSPB National Nature Reserve and up to the Woodland Trust’s recently planted Victory Wood with fantastic views over the Swale Estuary. It then follows Denstroude Brook to the Forestry Commission Clowes Wood. After Clowes it goes through West Blean and Thornden Woods, owned by KWT, and finally KWT’s East Blean Wood National Nature Reserve.
The eighteen interpretive panels have been installed outside pubs and other gathering places including a village hall and a garden centre. Each panel tells a different story about The Blean. Topics include ‘The Battle of Bossenden’ 1838, the last armed uprising on English soil; ‘The Wood Ant’; ‘Butterflies of the Blean’; ‘Trees of the Blean’. The panels were part funded by a grant from Viridor Credits. Click on the thumbnails below to view all eighteen panels: