The Big Blean Walk

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 is part funded by Heritage Lottery and the Kent Wildlife Trust and has been developed by the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership as a member of the Blean Initiative.

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.

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.

Blean Heritage and Community Group Walks

The Blean Heritage and Community Group have published four circular walks taking in the very best of the local woodlands and landscape:

o Herne & West Blean Wood – 5.5km –  Circular Walk No. 1  (pdf 547kb)

Circular from Herne Common through woodland and countryside with views across Swale estuary. Starting point is Anemone Way, off the A291 at the Old Herne Hospital site, almost opposite the ‘First and Last’ public house. There are many points of interest along the way including panoramic views over Knockhimdown Hill and the escarpment, that was Stubbs Wood, to Sheppey and Essex beyond.

o Tyler Hill & The Sarre Penn Valley – 5.5km – Circular Walk No. 2 (pdf 766 kb)

Walking time about a 2 hour ramble. The Starting Point is the Ivy House Pub. Walk starts and finishes through oak and chestnut woods and in between it crosses the Sarre Penn stream, providing good opportunities for seeing many types of bird.

o Dunkirk & Denstroude – 7km – Circular Walk No 3 (pdf 1.5mb)

Passes through ancient woodlands including Bossenden Wood, the scene of the last armed uprising on English soil. The woods are now part of Blean Woods National Nature Reserve managed by the RSPB.

o Herne, Tyler Hill & Broad Oak – 14km – Circular Walk 4 (pdf 2.7mb)

A three in one walk – follows the route of old droveways through ancient woodland before returning through open fields and historic farmsteads of the Sarre Penn Valley. Kent Wildlife Trust now own and manage much of the woodland. This long walk can be divided into three shorter walks and can start at any of the three villages.

• The 7.5 mile Crab and Winkle Way links the cathedral city of Canterbury with the harbour in Whitstable. The path follows the route of the Crab and Winkle Line which was the first regular steam passenger railway in the world, opened on third May 1830. Overview route information can be downloaded from the Explore Kent website and more detailed guidance and a full leaflet can be found at the Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership website.

• The North Downs Way, cuts across the Southern Part of the Blean on its way into Canterbury via Chartham Hatch and Bigbury Camp.

• The Stour Valley Walk , which follows the route of the River Stour from its source at Lenham, , to the historic city of Canterbury and down to the Straits of Dover near Pegwell Bay, also touches the Southern edge of the Blean and is a great route into and out of Canterbury due to the New Great Stour Way footpath.

• The Saxon Shoreway , a 160 mile long distance walking route is named after the line of historic fortifications that defended the Kent coast at the end of the Roman era. The route crosses the Blean at its Northern reaches where the woodlands meet the coast.

Walk Awhile is a Kent based family run tour operator organising pre-planned, self-led or guided walking holidays with luggage transfers available throughout the year for walker of all abilities. Walk Awhile offers several guided walks including the Pilgrims way which crosses the Blean on its way to Canterbury. Walk Awhile has achieved a Green Tourism Business Scheme Silver award and is featured on www.responsibletravel.com.

Walks in East Kent – Chartham is a two and a half hour walk starting from the village green and historic houses of Chartham and then following the Stour Valley Walk and back along part of the North Downs Way via Chartham Hatch and Bigbury Camp. Information on the walk can be found at Explore Kent.

• The Kentish Stour Countryside Partnership has published a Canterbury pack of “Train Rides to Ramble” which features 3 walks in the Blean from Chartham and Sturry stations. Contact the office on 01233 813307 to purchase copies.

• The North Downs Way have published a series of Lost Landscapes Heritage Trails, circular routes off the North Downs way exploring the history of the landscape. The Chartham booklet, contains two routes, the second of which explores Chartham Hatch and its surroundings.

Explore Kent have also published an Easy Access Trail in Clowes Wood. The route is a level walk of 3.2 miles/5.1km through the Wood and open farmland. The route description can be downloaded from the Explore Kent website.

Faversham Enterprise Partnership have produced a series of walk detailing the history and landscape of the area. One of which – The Peasants Last Revolt, details the area of Boughton, Hernehill, Dargate and the Blean as it tells the story of the Battle of Bossenden and explores the landscape of the area.

• The Faversham website also features several walks which take in the Blean and its villages. In particular there is a 7 mile walk Boughton and a 3 mile route around Blean Woods NNR.

• The Orchard and Blossom Trail is one of two short circular walks around the Parish of Harbledown, taking in Orchards and hop gardens. The guides are available from Harbledown Parish Council