This is another pleasant section along the North Downs Way from Lenham to Wye. We walked along here on the same day as Section 8 (from Detling to Lenham) so we were glad to find that this was the easiest walk so far. The route is around 18km, but it is is pretty flat the whole way so you can manage it even if you are feeling a little tired. Although you don’t get to climb to the top of the Downs, the path is still slightly elevated, so there are pretty views of the surrounding countryside. Near the end of this walk, there is a choice. You can continue to walk towards Dover, or turn off towards Canterbury.
Near the start of the walk, near Lenham, you pass a huge white cross that covers one side of the Downs. This is the Lenham memorial cross. Our guidebook says it was made in 1922 by local villagers to commemorate the deaths of 42 local people during The First World War. During the Second World War, it had to be covered up by grass to stop it being used as a navigation aid for enemy aircraft. Then, sadly after the war, another 14 names had to be added to the war memorial in the village.
I stopped to take a photo of the cross, then had to run to catch up to my husband Marc, so I missed a way-marker. Anyway, even if I missed the marker, it was now only 53km to Dover! The next landmark is the Lenham chalk cliffs. We didn’t take the detour over to the cliffs, but kept wandering along the path to Highborne.
We didn’t get to walk through any bluebell woods near Lenham, but there were still pretty patches of bluebells at the side of the path. It might be slightly warmer in this sheltered side of the Downs as some of the bluebells were already looking past their best. I don’t think there will be many left by next weekend.
The other lovely thing about this afternoon was the lack of any motorways! You can see and hear the A20 on the way to the village of Charing. But it is far quieter than any of the large roads from previous sections of the walk. We walked along this section on quite a cloudy day, but that made us really appreciate the moments like in the photo below when the sun lit up parts of the landscape.
One of the farms had a line of trees full of cherry blossoms. I don’t think they looks quite the same as the Yoshino cherry blossoms I am used to from Japan. But blossoms are always lovely to see anyway!
Just like the previous walk from Detling to Lenham, this area has lots of rapeseed fields this year. They looked amazing, even though the sun was behind the clouds for most of my photos! This must look ridiculously bright on a sunnier day!! I am not a huge fan of canola oil, and I really don’t like the honey that bees make when these fields surround the village where I grew up BUT I do love the happy bright colour when rapefields transform the landscape.
Sometimes the rapefields were on the left side of the pilgrims way. The hills next to us were so steep that we spent quite a lot of time looking up at the green stems of the rapeseed plants under the blue sky. As the walk was so flat, it seemed hardly any time before we came close to the village of Charing.
We did take a mini detour into Charing. We were sort of hoping to find a shop where we could buy ice-creams or other snacks. The village is gorgeous, but all shut up for bank holiday Monday, so we had to stay healthy and ice-cream-less. Ah well.
We had a look at St Peter and St Paul’s church while we were in the village. Next to the church is the Archbishop’s palace, where important people stay on their way to Canterbury. A plaque on the wall said that Henry VII and Henry VIII both stayed here. The church has a lovely sounding bell…but it told us that it was 5pm already, so we zoomed back to the Pilgrims way to get walking!!
Once we got back to the main path, we saw the huge tree that had fallen over, showing its amazing roots! I wonder if it could somehow be pulled back up if it would be okay? It had grown new leaves, even with its roots in the air! This must be the main problem for trees in chalky areas. We have seen quite a few felled trees in the last few weeks. I wonder if it is always like this when people start to walk in the spring? Or if all this damage was from the storm called Doris back in February?
We passed a large industrial looking chalk pit, and then had a pleasant walk through some woods on Westwell Downs. Once we emerged from the trees, we could see another small village with a church spire. I think that the village is Westwell.
Part of the path went through green fields full of crops in flower. I took some photos of the flowers because I was curious what they are. Please do let me know if the comments if you know what they are!?
There was a bit of an incline as we walked across all these fields. But it was nothing compared to the previous walks! Once you make it across the farmland there is a road lined with pretty blossom-filled trees. You can see the top of the St Mary’s Church ruins, but we couldn’t see a way in to get closer to the ruined church.
There are some nice views of Eastwell lake. We also got to see a few fields full of sheep with their prancing baby lambs. I love lamb time of year! They are so, so cute!
The next village was Boughton Lees. It has a small church and another war memorial on the green. There do seem to be a lot of war memorials in Kent. My friend from Rochester told me that it is normal for every village to have a war memorial. I suppose this close to the coast they must have lost so many young men during the wars. I grew up in rural Cambridgeshire. My local town does have a war memorial, but I don’t ever remember seeing so many in small villages. I’ll have to look harder next time I go to visit my parents!! Maybe Kent has so many more because it was so close to the coast and possible fighting. It is right in the middle between London and France.
Anyway after going through the village, you have to wander along a road for a while. It wasn’t too busy, but the cars we saw were going pretty quickly, so be careful along here! You’ll come to the junction where part of the North Down Way loops off towards Canterbury. We kept on the route to Dover, so kept walking along the road, then turned off into more farmland. I don’t think we had seen any other walkers since Charing, but suddenly there were quite a few dog walkers taking their puppers for a wander before dinner.
We followed one of the dog walkers through a hole in the hedge onto Perry Court Farm. The North Downs Way goes past an orchard that was in full bloom, then past a few plastic covered greenhouses. After the farm, the route continues through a field full of yellow flowers. I am not sure what they were as they were a much lighter yellow compared to the rapefields from the rest of the afternoon.
On the edge of the farm there were two curious donkeys. They ran up to say hello, and then posed perfectly for these photos. Hello donkeys!!
So, we had made it to Wye before dark. We checked train times on my phone while we walked through the fields, so we had to rush straight to the station to jump on a train. It was a long, but lovely day to walk from Detling via Lenham to Wye. If you are considering doing two parts of the North Downs Way at the same time, this is definitely a good option.