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A winter walk in the Medway Valley by Kent expert Geoff Rambler starting at Blue Bell Hill

Here’s the latest suggestion from our resident expert, Geoff Rambler. 

Robin Hood pub, Blue Bell Hill
Robin Hood pub, Blue Bell Hill

MEDWAY VALLEY WALK

Distance: 4.5 miles circular walk

In a nutshell: “Past and present”

Start point: The Robin Hood pub, Blue Bell Hill, Chatham, ME5 9RJ

Directions: From the Robin Hood, join the road and turn right into the North Downs Way (NDW). Follow the road and, at its end, continue on the track. Follow the track and look out after about 20 minutes for the opening on the left to the Wouldham Common picnic area, where you can enjoy a great view across the valley.

Reposed, rejoin the track and after a short distance, when the track turns left, continue straight ahead (NDW) along the footpath to reach open ground. Continue on the crest with the woods on the right, and enjoy more of the view over the Medway Valley and the elegant bridges.

A view across the Medway Valley
A view across the Medway Valley

By taking a short detour into Shoulder of Mutton Wood (the woodland path runs parallel with the crest path), you will find the remains of a Bronze Age barrow. Rejoin the crest path and follow it down and over the railway. On reaching the road, turn right and follow the road and path to Upper Nashenden Farm. Turn right after the farm and follow the bridleway back up to the pub.

Points of Interest

WOULDHAM: A century ago, the opposite side of the River Medway would have been crowded by cement works. The plentiful supply of chalk, Medway blue mud and river transport made the Medway Valley a major supplier of Portland cement, which was in huge demand as London expanded.

Bronze Age Barrow in Shoulder of Mutton Wood
Bronze Age Barrow in Shoulder of Mutton Wood

SHOULDER OF MUTTON BURIAL GROUND: Probably built by the Beaker People, so named as they introduced flat-bottom cups from continental Europe.

M2 BRIDGE: The first motorway bridge across the Medway opened in 1963 and expanded in 2003. On July 30, 2003 a special Eurostar train crossed the viaduct at 208 mph – setting a new UK rail speed record.

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