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Dog friendly articles and ideas
Upper Harbledown Nr Canterbury Kent
The walk starts in the village of Upper Harbledown then loops through Hamish's favourite Blean Woods (that provide ample opportunity to considerably extend the walk). On street car parking is available through the village. We parked near the village hall close to the start of the instructions (at the western end of the village).
Locate the small village hall opposite a children's play area and the road to Faversham (going south over the main A2) at TR 1122 5844. Take the marked footpath to the right of the village hall as you look at it from the road (i.e. going north). Follow the path slightly uphill with a stream on your right hand side. As the path bears left away from the stream keep close to the stream and CROSS A WOODEN BRIDGE across the stream. Continue ahead on the path on the opposite side of the stream (i.e. it is now on your left). Follow the path uphill, the first section in particular is lovely mature woodland full of bluebells and other woodland flowers. As the path levels out continue ahead through a small zig-zag to a T-junction with a track (do not be tempted by side paths including one on the right hand side to a broken wooden gate).
TURN RIGHT onto the wide track (TR 1100 5899). After 100 to 200 metres TURN LEFT at a cross tracks (the right hand track leads to a rhododendron patch in just 50 metres so you may wish to divert in the flowering season). Continue ahead to the next cross tracks. This section was difficult when we walked as the track (a public footpath!) had been churned up by forestry vehicles. We managed by walking to the edges and crossing frequently - and by diverting into the wood edges to pass the worst sections.
TURN RIGHT on reaching the more made up track (marked on the map as New Road ). There is opportunity to follow a marked out dog route by going ahead at this point. This would add at least a mile to the route but will bring you back to this route a little further on (when you will be signed left to rejoin New Road ). Continue AHEAD after turning right soon to pass between substantial concrete road block pillars on each side of the track (a relic of General Ironside's WWII 'stop line'?). CONTINUE AHEAD past a track joining from left (the end of the dog route) and then past a wooden gate and car park on left.
Note school field on left hand side and track on right immediately opposite the start of the field. After another 80 metres or so TURN RIGHT onto a marked footpath (yellow arrow marker on post). Keep close to the chestnut palling fence on the left hand side to follow the path into a residential cul-d-sac via a dog friendly stile. CONTINUE AHEAD on footpath on the opposite side.
TURN RIGHT, as indicated by a bridleway sign, as the footpath emerges into a metalled lane. CONTINUE AHEAD passing cottages and houses and after the lane becomes 'un-made'. Almost immediately you re-enter the wood, just beyond the fenced 'garden' of the last house, TURN LEFT onto a footpath (rather poorly signposted!). This is at a junction where a footpath crosses the bridleway - the path you want is the least obvious of the four options with the other three more like tracks. Do not go ahead and downhill on the bridleway but follow the path downhill, avoiding a lesser path that forks left.
CONTINUE AHEAD over a wooden bridge across a stream, then more-or-less ahead up a sunken track on the opposite side (or use the path on the track's right hand side if it is muddy). CONTINUE MORE-OR-LESS AHEAD on reaching a cross tracks (TR 1200 5875) following the blue arrow marker for the bridleway (do not take either the left or right options here). Follow the track as it bears left (ignoring a path on the right) then keep right as a more clear path bears left (the left fork is the bridleway as indicated by a blue arrow marker). CONTINUE AHEAD following a yellow arrow marker on a post through a really attractive section of old woodland (masses of bluebells) to reach a fence line with good views across fields, Upper Harbledown and the ridge on the opposite side of the valley. TURN LEFT along the fence line as indicated by the arrow marker. As the fence line ends TURN RIGHT to follow the fence towards the village. (An alternative would be to go ahead 50 metres to reach the bridleway then follow it down through a small valley to the road - where you will need to turn right). KEEP CLOSE TO THE FENCE all the way down to the road.
CROSS THE ROAD WITH CARE by a post and rail fence at the bottom of the wood and TURN RIGHT on the pavement (TR 1155 5839). Continue through the village. Note bus lay-by with a weather protected map showing countryside access routes. Ahead past the pub on junction with Plough Lane to reach the village hall where you started the walk (on the right hand side of the road).
Copyright Dogpeople Limited 2004.