A Brief Interlude: Dunwich Forest (Suffolk)

Hey again!

As I’ve been at my parents’ house in north Suffolk this week, I thought I’d go off-course and take advantage of some of the beautiful countryside I grew up around, and talk a bit about the history of it. One of my favourite places ever is Dunwich Forest (and Dunwich itself, due to the slightly spooky story behind the place). Me and mum went for a lovely walk through it.

Dunwich used to be (a very very long time ago) one of the biggest port cities in the UK- until it started slipping into the sea. As early as the 11th century, the city started to fall into the sea. By the 17th century it was a quarter of its original size. In the early 1900s, All Saints church went over the cliff, and today the final gravestone from the churchyard is at the edge.

Various objects and relics have washed up on Dunwich’s shore (among them have been a piano, a wardrobe and human skulls from the old graveyard).

The village still has the ruins of Greyfriars Abbey; although they’re getting perilously close to the edge now too.

As I say, my favourite part is the forest. It’s mainly coniferous woodland, and is currently undergoing “rewilding”; trying to re-establish elements of the environment that have declined. This has previously involved bringing konik and exmoor ponies in to keep the undergrowth under control (sadly we didn’t see any this time so no pictures…).

The part of the forest me & mum walked through was also full of dens… (the one below was probably the most impressive!)

I’ve always found Dunwich Forest to be super atmospheric and a bit spooky… at some point I very much want to come and get lost in the forest with a notebook and just write all day!

Later this week I’ll be back exploring Southeast London’s wild areas (although there’ll definitely be more Suffolk stuff to come in future… watch this space! :3 )

Rhi x


The Stour Valley Walk from Wye to Chilham

The Stour Valley Walk follows the River Stour through the stunning countryside of East Kent, from its source at Lenham to its estuary at Pegwell Bay. One of the most beautiful sections of this walk is between the villages of Wye and Chilham, passing through the rolling hills and ancient woodlands of the Kent Downs – an Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty. It’s fast and easy to get to from London, and with pubs at each end, it makes a fantastic day out – and the perfect escape from the city.

Stour Valley Walk
Me on the walk with my Poler Stuff The Rucksack (I took the pockets off to make the ideal day pack)

Travel time from London:
1 hour

Getting there and back: High speed Southeastern train from St. Pancras or Stratford International, changing at Ashford to Wye (you can also get slower trains to Ashford from Victoria and Charing Cross).
Return from Chilham changing at Ashford for London.

Walk distance:
7 miles

Difficulty:
Easy – with some gentle ascents/descents.

Pitstops:
The Tickled Trout at Wye, The White Horse and The Wool Pack at Chilham, Shelly’s of Chilham tearooms.

The Tickled Trout
The Tickled Trout at Wye

Directions:
From the station at Wye cross over the bridge towards the village. The Tickled Trout is immediately on your left, we stopped here for a pre-walk pint in their idyllic beer garden on the banks of the River Stour. They have an excellent selection of local ales and ciders, and home cooked food.

stour-valley-1
A pre-walk pint at The Tickled Trout

After The Tickled Trout carry on up Bridge Street through the village, then turn left onto Church Street. From the church follow the route signs for the North Downs Way and Stour Valley Walk, you’ll pass through some abandoned college buildings. Cross the road and go up the lane opposite, where you’ll come out into open farmland. Here the Stour Valley Walk and the North Downs Way separate, from this point you should follow the heron way-markers for the Stour Valley Walk. Follow the path to the left cutting diagonally across the field towards woodland.

Stour Valley Walk
Ian in the woodland

Once through the woodland the path dips into the valley and you’ll have stunning views of the surrounding countryside.

Stour Valley Walk
Ian taking a sip of whisky from his hip flask, whilst enjoying the views

The path continues through coppiced woodland to open meadowland and the village of Crundale, it then follows an unmade road branching off to the left across cornfields.

Stour Valley Walk
Me in the open meadowland

Stour Valley Walk
Ian crossing the cornfields with his trusty Fjällräven Rucksack No. 21 

Follow the way-markers through dense woodland, where the path is lined with yew trees. The path follows several sections of fields and woodland, and as you approach Chilham, you will see views of the castle. The path then branches to your left over a stile, this link path then takes you back down to the river to the picturesque Chilham Mill.

Stour Valley Walk
Made some friends in the fields between Crundale and Chilham

Stour Valley Walk
The path through woodland just before you branch off to the mill

It’s worth making a detour at this point to see Chilham Village Square before getting the train back from Chilham. Follow the lane from the mill to the A28 Ashford Road, take care crossing. Follow Bagham Lane opposite, bearing to the left and up the hill. You’ll pass The Wool Pack at the bottom of the hill. In the main square you’ll find timber-framed houses, St. Mary’s Church Chilham and the imposing gateway to Chilham Castle, as well as 14th century pub The White Horse and Shelly’s of Chilham tearooms.

For Chilham Railway Station from Mill Lane, turn right on the main road (A28 Ashford Road), and it’s in about 150 metres on your right.

Chilham Village Square
Timber-framed house and St. Mary’s Church

The White Horse Chilham
The White Horse in Chilham

 stour valley walk