Walks And Walking – Kent Walks Elham Valley Way Walking Route

Guest Post by Michael Smith, Editor of A Walk in the Garden seasonal Kent countryside magazine.

Walks And WalkingKent Walks Elham Valley Way Walking Route

The Elham Valley way weaves through the heart of the Kent Downs. Starting from City of Canterbury and finishing 22 miles to the south in the picturesque coastal town of Hythe, following the course of the Elham Valley Railway.

In 1881, the Elham Valley Light Railway Company were granted permission to build a line from Folkestone to Canterbury, serving the villages of Lyminge, Elham, Barham, Bishopsbourne, and Bridge. In 1887 the Shornecliffe to Barham section was opened and was soon followed by the completion of the railway to Canterbury in 1889. The prominence of the Elham Valley line came when it was used as a diversionary route in 1915 after a landslip at Folkestone Warren blocked the mainline to and from Dover. Used in both World Wars for storage and a huge railway mounted gun that could fire shells over 12 miles, which was kept hidden in Bourne Park Tunnel. After being returned to public service in 1946, the railway could not compete commercially with the road transport and was closed in 1947. Three stations still exist today, Lyminge public library and two private residents Bishopsbourne and Bridge. A railway museum at Peene contains many artefacts of the railway’s past as well as a working model of the Elham Valley Railway.

Starting by the Cathedral in Canterbury, the city streets soon give way to quieter suburban roads and then open countryside tracks that lead to small villages of Patrixbourne and Bridge. A short distance along the route from Bridge is the grand 2000 acre estate of Bourne Park, a famous guest being Mozart in 1765. Just past Bourne Park is the village of Bishopsbourne. This village was home of Richard Hooker, who in the 16th century played a signiciant role in the development of the Anglican Church. Bishopsbourne Paddock was a cricket ground for Bourne Park and staged many first class matches from 1766 to 1790.

Walks And Walking – Kent Walks Elham Valley Way Walking Route - EVW Covert Wood

Walks And Walking – Kent Walks Elham Valley Way Walking Route - EVW Covert Wood

Past the outskirts of Barham, the ancient woodland, Covert Wood provides an inspiring view across the valley before descending in to the tree lined country lane. Leaving the wood and heading downhill, the Elham Valley Way crosses over the busy country road and rises sharply again up the valley side. There are many opportunities for distant and panoramic views from the regular vantage points to Elham. Proudly holding the title of Kent Village of 2011, this idyllic village dates back as a settlement to the Neolithic age, with finds dating back over ten thousand years.

Heading south to through Lyminge and the Etchinghill Golf Course, the Elham Valley Way heads up Tolsford Hill which is one of the highest points in Kent, giving stunning views from Ashford to Rye across the Romney Marsh and out to the world’s busiest shipping lane, the English Channel. Back downhill, the descent is consistent to Peene along the actual route the trains would have taken. Across the M20 motorway, the Elham Valley Way leads to Dibgate Camp, an Army training facility, before crossing Sene Valley Golf Course. The final descent in to Hythe offers a final vista over the Romney Marsh before reaching Hythe.

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