Pluckley - Little Chart - Hothfield Common - Pluckley

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'Get yer cherries 'ere' reads a notice in the window of the butcher's shop in Pluckley. If you are attempting this walk in June or July, you might be well-advised to stock up now, to save yourself from temptation later on. Not for nothing is this part of Kent known as 'The Garden of England'. Before you return to the village you will have passed through orchards filled with apple, pear, plum and cherry; skimmed the edge of a vineyard and walked through an acre or two of corn. The forbidden cherries, which hang so voluptuously within reach, are grown inside vast netted enclosures to protect them from birds and inclement weather. The footpath passes through two of these - an unusual sensual experience! Inside, it is still and warm and the air hangs heavy with sweetness.

In stark contrast is Hothfield Common. Owned by Kent Wildlife Trust, it is one of the few substantial areas of heathland left in Kent. You may glimpse a flock of dark Hebridean sheep, almost hidden among trees in its boggy corner; or spot a hovering sapphire dragonfly as you cross the Great Stour River - a misnomer at this stage, where it is barely more than a trickle. Less than three miles from the border of fast-expanding Ashford, the common nevertheless contains an abundance of natural interest. The KWT website lists ancient trees, geological features, fungi and butterflies among its attractions.

For much of its route, this walk follows two long-distance paths, the Greensand Way and The Stour Valley Walk, passing pretty red-bricked cottages, a fabulous rose garden bordering the fields, elegant farmhouses and buildings. (Look out for a date written in contrasting tiles on the roof of one of these). The hamlet at Forstal (Little Chart), complete with cricket-field at its centre, is almost too perfect and Pluckley itself, reputed to be the most haunted village in England, as well as being the location used for the film version of H E Bates' 'The Darling Buds of May', contains the requisite pub, shop and church, all worthy of investigation. The latter part of the route follows a stretch of quiet road. Please don't be tempted to walk straight up the road at the end, thus cutting out a loop which contains some of the walk's most charming features. All in all, this is a walk which makes few demands on your energy, but which pays back abundantly in enjoyment.

England - South England - Kent - Countryside

Features

Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Food Shop, Great Views, Mostly Flat, Pub, Public Transport, Wildlife
06/05/2019 - Nigel Ward

This is a lovely dog friendly walk and the small amount of road walking was on very quiet roads. We really enjoyed walking through the apple and cherry orchards and the directions where very easy to follow. Parking could be tight. We arrived in our camper van and were lucky enough to get a spot on the road just before the car park turn. There isn't a height barrier on the car park but it is quite small and was almost full when we started around 11am on a Sunday. Thanks Alison for a fabulous walk.

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Distance away
13.7 Miles