Statistics: 13 miles, ascent 1381 feet, descent 1590 feet.
Leaving the Warren Farm Barn, we climbed for about a mile to reach the NDW on our way into what was forecast to be a very hot day. The view of Warren Farm behind us revealed the farm as an island in a sea of cultivated farmland.
Soon, the North Downs Way cut through the lush King’s Wood.
Approaching Chilham, we could see the stunning Chilham Castle and its parkland through the trees. This Jacobean castle was built in 1603 on the foundations of a Roman building. It is thought that on these grounds, circa 42 AD, the Britons battled the Romans during the Roman invasion.
The village of Chilham, dripping with charm with its 14th-century pub, quaint cottages, views of the castle, also had Shelly’s Tea Shop, very important to us. By this time, the heat of the day was weighing on us and a cool drink and a pastry were just the ticket!
Walking across the wide, medieval, village square, we noticed the local church, the 700-year-old St. Mary’s Church, famous for its stained glass windows and monuments.
The next village on our route had an interesting name, Old Wives Lee. It is said that it may have originally been Oldwoods Lee and due to mispronunciation or misspelling, evolved to its present name. Thankfully, as we left the village we entered a tunnel of trees, which provided a little relief from the heat.
Soon, we were back in the open fields which were warm, but quite lovely.
The views of the countryside revealed more oasthouses, if you were to look closely. If you cannot see them in the picture below, just enjoy the country setting.
Over the next hill we entered a huge apple orchard that stretched off into the distance, covering many acres of apple trees. The hard cider industry must be thriving.
In 1947, the locals through their parish council had planted another orchard for the community called No Man’s Orchard. The now-neglected trees in this stand of apple trees had, for many years, produced enough fruit to defer the council’s cost of maintaining it.
After another pleasant day of fields and forests, we entered Canterbury, walking down High St. toward the 14th-century Westgate, which led us to the center of this ancient city.
We walked over to see the famous Canterbury Cathedral. Unfortunately, the elaborate exterior was undergoing a facelift and covered with scaffolding. Also, since we were there after closing, we could not enter the beautiful building’s expansive interior and had to view it from afar.
My hiking buddy, Nancy, treated us to a most relaxing, chauffeured river punt tour on the River Stour as it wound through the city. The tour was maintained by Westgate Punts (aka “Canterbury River Navigation Company”) and we were able to see Canterbury from the “backdoor.”
Mo, our tour guide, was quite knowledgeable and entertaining. What a great way to see the historic city!
We stayed at the comfortable Castle House Hotel, about a 10-minute walk from the extremely busy city center. Dinner was reasonably priced and tasty at the nearby, highly regarded, 500 year-old Old Weavers House Restaurant with its old-world ambiance.