Four Romney Marsh Churches from Brookland to Fairfield

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Four Romney Marsh Churches: Brookland - Brenzett - Snargate - Fairfield

Romney Marsh is the antidote to the stress of modern life! Choose, if you can, a bright, clear, still summer's day for this walk. To my mind, Romney Marsh is not a place to be in winter, when the east wind blows, unchecked, from the Urals – or thereabouts! A flat, open landscape of wide skies and fields criss-crossed by a lattice of drainage ditches, where yellow waterlilies float in early summer, it offers the opportunity to wander quiet lanes and paths and to visit some of its famous medieval churches.

On this walk, there is the opportunity to visit four churches, the first of which you'll encounter in the village of Brookland, where you'll leave your car. St Augustine's makes a big impact with its wooden, 'pepper-pot' bell-tower which is separate from the main building and its tall, secretive box-pews inside. Both St Eanswith's at Brenzett and St Dunstan's at Snargate (we like unusual saints down here!), have more recent literary associations, as well as Mediaeval ones and are worth a visit. But St Thomas á Becket Church at Fairfield is the gem. In the past, often inaccessible in winter except by boat, it sits, alone, surrounded by its own green sea of pastureland. There is no sound save the swish of reeds by the drainage ditches, the call of the circling skylark and the inevitable bleating. One could get carried away with waxing lyrical here!

But Romney Marsh is not entirely an idyll. It has its darker side, for it has strong associations with smuggling in the past (tobacco in the belfry and a cask of Hollands gin under the vestry table, claims a former Rector at Snargate!); and according to legend, witches lurked around every corner. Today Romney Marsh gives lie to the myth that the South East is all fast cars and affluence, for there is real rural poverty here, evidenced by the presence of abandoned farms and derelict buildings.

In the second half of this walk, there is just over 3km of road-walking. Do not be discouraged by this! The lanes here are relatively traffic-free (only one car passed us on this stretch). Flanked by scarlet, waving poppies in June, mallow and dog-rose in June, they provide easy walking and much to enjoy in the form of wayside flowers, fields of white (yes, white!) linseed and blowing barley. You may even spot, as we did, a kestrel standing still upon a fence-post, or be hissed at menacingly by a swan from her untidy nest, occupied by two downy cygnets.

This walk should come with a government health warning, for it may take a while to transport yourself back into the 21st Century. Treat yourself gently and round it off with a pint at Brookland's Royal Oak, or to put that more picturesquely perhaps, words from the first licence granted to the ale-house in 1736:

"that he may suffer ale to be tippled in his house,
but may not suffer ale to be tippled during divine service,
that he may not suffer ale to be tippled from pots of illegal measure,
that he may not suffer ale to be tippled
from pots not bearing the district stamp,
that he may not suffer ale to be tippled that is impured by adulteration,
and that he may not suffer ale from a disorderly house".

England - South England - Kent - Romney Marsh


Birds, Butterflies, Church, Flowers, Mostly Flat, Pub, Wildlife
10/10/2016 - Alison and Clive Gilbert

Thanks Paul for your helpful and constructive comments. I have incorporated your suggestions at wp 23 and 27. The path at wp 23 is still open, but it is unmarked, and it is necessary to step over the low wire fence. I have contacted Kent CC to ask them to attend to the marker.

10/4/2016 - Paul James

There are a couple of minor issues with the routing for this walk. At WP 17 the footpath has been closed. The easiest option is to continue to follow the lane to the next junction. Turn left here and you will arrive at WP 18 on your left. WP23 - I suggest you replace the current text with 'Take the path opposite, over the bridge to a gate in the right hand corner of the field. Continue beside a ditch and some magnificent old willow trees through two more gates. Keep an eye on the direction given by the waymarks as they are fairly accurate. After crossing a bridge and a small field, you’ll arrive at the driveway to Old Farm.' WP27 - I suggest you replace the current text with 'Cross the ditch using the footbridge and aim diagonally left to a line of trees, keep the trees on your left and then cross the next field diagonally left to reach the main A259 road'

10/4/2016 - Paul James

We have just completed this walk (4/10/16) and didn't have any great difficulty following the instructions.

9/12/2016 - Buggsie Heath-Brown

We attempted the 4 churches walk on Romney Marsh last week. Unfortunately it is totally impassable. The footpath signs are very weathered and in a couple of places totally hidden in the undergrowth. Not sure when this walk was last attempted by anyone but we gave up after a couple of kilometres and did the 4 churches by car and then walked along Camber Sands!

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4.4 Miles