Walk completed August 16, 2014

Sunday, July 27, 2014

July 26, 2014 -- Day 41, Ashford to Harrietsham, 13 miles

Today I moved from the Stour Valley Walk to the North Downs Way. My hotel in Ashford is located about two miles from the trail. To avoid the road walk, I took a bus to Boughton Lees (north of Ashford) and joined the North Downs Way there.  (For those following on maps, today’s walk starts at Boughton Lees, and passes north of the villages of  Westwell, Charing and Lenham, ending at Harrietsham.)

Almost immediately, I met Jonathan and Daren, confirming in my mind that the NDW would be populated by walkers – at least until they told me I was the first one they met in two days. They are walking the NDW, and started from Lenham today.

Jonathan and Daren

Like its southern sister (the South Downs Way), the North Downs Way runs along a chalk escarpment, providing panoramic views. The NDW’s escarpment is not nearly as high, so there are no difficult climbs like on the South Downs Way. Although the path passes through grasslands, pastures, and farm fields, woodlands populate most of today’s section. The woods occasionally hide the view, but they aren’t so dense to totally obscure it; more importantly, the woods provide shade for virtually the entire trail – an advantage on a hot day like today.

Shady woodland trail
Harvesting grains
Horse pasture

View from escarpment

Due to the ease of navigation, and the lack of other walkers, I made very good time today. Indeed, the only others I saw on the trail were Alan and Jennifer, from Dorking, and a large group of 100 or more pilgrims.

Alan and Jennifer

For much of today’s walk the NDW coincides with the Pilgrim Way, the latter trail linking the cathedrals of Winchester and Canterbury. The Pilgrim Way was established centuries ago when the faithful walked the distance to honor St. Thomas Becket, the former archbishop of Canterbury murdered at the request of King Henry III. Today’s pilgrims were bunched too closely together to have walked very far today. I suspect that they started today’s walk at a large cross etched into the face of the chalk cliff, not too far from where I encountered them. Unfortunately, there were so many of them and they were walking so quickly (additional evidence that they just started), that I wasn’t able to inquire at to their itinerary.

Cross etched in chalk hillside


Church at Harrietsham


© 2014 Ken Klug


  1. Jonathan CapstickJuly 30, 2014 at 11:16 AM

    Ken - it was good to meet you and best wishes for the rest of your walk. Daren and I completed our 3-day 85 mile walk from Greenwich to Canterbury, finishing at about 4pm for a well deserved drink in one of England's most beautiful cities. The day we met you we walked 31 miles and in the heat were more that a little tired - we averaged just over 3 miles an hour for the three days. Having walked Hadrian's Wall (another c85 mile national trail) it was surprising to see so few walkers - the Wall walk was packed in comparison. Recommend the Wall walk to you for a future trip - as well as the Thames Path (Hampton Court - Henry VIII's country pad - to Greenwich).

    1. Wow!! 85 miles in 3 days!! I hadn't realized what you were doing. You probably would have had a much faster average speed if I hadn't stopped you to talk. Congratulations on an outstanding achievement! As for me, I'll just keep plodding along at my snail's pace.