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Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby Dave » 30 Mar 2021 19:09

We've done a very few local lockdown walks directly from home, but today we actually drove somewhere to do a walk - all of 3 miles to park by the church at Blean!

We decided to restart proper walking with a bang, by doing a full marathon. A couple of years ago, we did the Canterbury Outer Ring which is an excellent circuit through the countryside around Canterbury. However, we measured the Outer Ring at 22.6 miles (which is a lot further than the advertised 20 miles!), so I came up with a cunning plan. We'd do an extension of about 4 miles by heading towards Dover on the North Downs Way before turning back along the Elham Valley Way. Hence the 'frying pan' shape... :)

Everything went to plan and the final distance was 26.5 miles, which is technically an ultra-marathon! ;)

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The somewhat misleading sign by Blean Church - it's 22.6 miles!!

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Setting off across the field by the church at just before 9am. Not a cloud in the sky; a lovely day was in prospect. We hadn't expected it to get so hot later though!

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Our route took us through many stretches of woodland and most had a lovely thick covering of wood anemones...

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It wasn't long before we spotted our first flowering bluebell of the year. Then, having seen one, we saw many more.

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Just outside Littlebourne, we crossed a meadow that was completely dry last time. Today, it was a real water meadow and looked amazing!

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The highlight of the walk was seeing the Nailbourne in full flow. This stream is intermittent, meaning that it only flows when the water table reaches a certain height. Normally, it resembles a sunken, rocky track - in fact, I'd never until today seen any water in it at all. But today it was a raging torrent (sort of) and we couldn't get enough of it!

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Here, the Nailbourne crosses a road at a ford. I'm heading for the footbridge...

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Further on, on the North Downs Way, we passed these wonderful wildflowers that I haven't had time to research yet. I feel I should know what they are though.

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Also on the North Downs Way, we saw our first cowslips of the year...

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The Nailbourne was at its best in the area around Bishopsbourne (there are lots of 'bournes' here) where we crossed the delightful Bourne Park:

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Here, we've just crossed the Great Stour, the river that flows through Canterbury:

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Looking back to an orchard, a hop field and, beyond that, the North Downs Way at Bigbury Camp:

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Just a couple of miles to go... with most of that through our local Blean Woods:

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We arrived back at the car at about 4.30pm. Back home, we learned that this had been the hottest March day in 53 years and it had certainly felt like it. We didn't stop at all except to take photos (and for my wife to sort out her laces!), but there were no PBs today. It was brilliant to be out adventuring again though and the Canterbury Outer Ring walk has to be one of the best walks in Kent... :)
Dave

Booked cruise 2019: December - Caribbean on Marella Explorer 2
Remaining land-based holidays 2019: July - Peak District, August - Harris and Highlands, October - Brecon Beacons
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Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby Gillzajoker » 31 Mar 2021 09:59

Wow, well done to you both! And what a wonderful selection of photos - loved them! :D
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Re: Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby rdw123 » 31 Mar 2021 10:09

Well done and lovely photos. Good to see a the spring flowers but you have me stumped with the blue and white ones! The memory is not what it was. Be good to hear what they were. I have an app on my phone that identifies flowers but not much good after the event. Happy travels.
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Re: Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby rdw123 » 31 Mar 2021 10:17

Tried to get an identification off your photos. It just comes up with blue and white anemones, not a lot of help there. Looks like it likes to work in “real time “ as it is usually quite accurate. Good to see them anyway.
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Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby Dave » 31 Mar 2021 16:02

Thank you both! :)

I've not managed to identify the flowers unfortunately. I thought it might be a kind of stitchwort, but I can't find any reference to blue varieties. It was growing on chalky soil in shaded woodland if that helps...

I did the report quite hurriedly before dinner yesterday and only included a small selection of the photos I'd have liked to have used. I won't try to squeeze them all in, but here are a few more that I hope will add to the flavour of our part of the Garden of England... :)

Only half-a-mile into the walk, we passed a useful permissive footpath that I've often used as a link between rights of way. The castle-like building in the distance is part of the University of Kent at Canterbury - I think it's what was the Chemistry building in my day!:

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On the North Downs Way south of Canterbury, we walked through a field of rape and saw our first flowering plants of this year's crop (left):
The Canterbury Rings walks are extremely well waymarked (right):

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This is the bridleway bridge across the A20 where we were at our furthest point from the start and where we changed paths from the North Downs Way to the Elham Valley Way:

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I've already posted a few photos of the Nailbourne with water actually flowing, but I just had to include this one too... :)

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The photo shows the Nailbourne yet again, but I've included this one taken at Bishopsbourne because I've played cricket on the field behind a few times - a long time ago!

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A few yards further on, we passed a tiny pony that I thought looked like a sheep...

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This is (you guessed it!) the Nailbourne flowing through the village of Bridge. This spot is directly opposite my dentist and I've looked down at the normally dry river bed many times in the past:

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Leaving Bridge, we crossed some very rolling farmland with some lovely views. For those who like to know such things, the total ascent for the walk was approximately a fairly modest 1,800ft.

Also worth a mention are my wife's new trail shoes. They're Inov-8 Trailroc shoes with graphene soles and I'm very envious!:

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Our route took us through a good many orchards, but none were in blossom yet. Give it another week or so though...

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Thanks for viewing!
Dave

Booked cruise 2019: December - Caribbean on Marella Explorer 2
Remaining land-based holidays 2019: July - Peak District, August - Harris and Highlands, October - Brecon Beacons
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Re: Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby Camela » 31 Mar 2021 17:49

Are you Kent born and bred, Dave? You you obviously love this part of the world.
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Re: Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby Dave » 31 Mar 2021 18:28

Camela wrote:Are you Kent born and bred, Dave? You you obviously love this part of the world.


Not quite Camela. I went to the University of Kent at Canterbury (UKC) when I was 19 and I've lived in and around Whitstable ever since. :)
Dave

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Remaining land-based holidays 2019: July - Peak District, August - Harris and Highlands, October - Brecon Beacons
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Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby Dave » 31 Mar 2021 18:38

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I think I might have identified these flowers. :D

We found them in great abundance in some woodland very near a posh place called Higham Park and nowhere else on our walk...

The basis of Higham Park was formed from 1320, when lands on the north east of the Elham Valley now within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty and Special Landscape Area, were ceded to the De Hegham family by Edward II.

In 1534 it was bought by Thomas Culpeper. His Elizabethan cellar floor is the oldest part of the present house, rebuilt to a neoclassical design in 1768.

Throughout its history, Higham Park has been frequented by the rich and famous: Mozart stayed here as a nine-year-old; while Jane Austen, Ian Fleming and General Charles de Gaulle were all guests.

In 1901, London banker William Gay purchased the estate to enable him to house his extensive collection of rare plants and orchids... (Wikipedia)


I think it's called Bloodroot. The plant is native to the east side of North America, but when I saw the entry about William Gay, it seemed possible that the plant has spread beyond the house to where we saw them. :)

Edit: I think I'm wrong. :oops:

They seem to more closely resemble a plant called Balkan Anemone. However, this plant isn't native to the UK either, so the same principle applies! ;)
Dave

Booked cruise 2019: December - Caribbean on Marella Explorer 2
Remaining land-based holidays 2019: July - Peak District, August - Harris and Highlands, October - Brecon Beacons
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Re: Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby rdw123 » 01 Apr 2021 10:05

Well done Dave. My app suggested anemone as well. Good to know we could both be on the right track so to speak. Looks like the rape seed is putting in an appearance, will soon have sore eyes though that is the only trouble. Great photos.
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Our Canterbury Outer Ring+, a 26.5 mile post-lockdown walk

Postby Gillzajoker » 01 Apr 2021 10:51

Enjoyed the second lot of photos, also, Dave - Miss seeing Spring flowers over here! :D
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