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


Hiking Sgurr na Stri in Skye

Our last hike in Skye was Sgurr na Stri. Dwarfed by the surrounding Cuillin, Sgurr na Stri is only 494 metres high – a Marilyn rather than a Munro. Despite this, it is widely considered to be one of Britain’s finest viewpoints, and deservedly so.

You can hike in from Sligachan or Elgol, or get a boat from Elgol. We opted for the latter because we had to catch the train from Fort William that evening. We headed out on the early morning rig with Bella Jane Boat Trips.

Cuillin Ridge TraverseOur companions on the rib who jumped off the boat onto slippery rocks at Eilean Ramhair, and were heading up to do the notoriously difficult Cuillin Ridge Traverse.

stepping stones skye
Crossing the stepping stones by Loch Coruisk

Time was tight, so on the directions of our boat captain, which consisted of , “Head straight up from the loch, hook a right at the lochan.” We navigated over the stepping stones from Loch Coruisk, and up to the peak, which is a bit of a scramble at times and the path disappears pretty quickly once you leave the loch shore.

Sgurr na Stri
Hooking a right at the lochan

There is a longer, clearer path from the loch which is more straightforward, except the final part to the summit which is rocky and requires careful route-finding whichever way you approach it. If you get the boat, whatever route you take, you’ll have to cross the stepping stones and you’re going to get wet feet if the water’s high.

sgurr na stri view
View from Sgurr na Stri, including the Cuillin Ridge, Loch Coruisk and the sea crossing

dee sgurr na sgtriMe, very excited to be at the peak!

seals from the rig
Seals and shags from the rib on the way back to Elgol

Kit List

Greenland_Trousers_81200-630_grandeFjällräven Greenland Trousers – These trousers were perfect for the boggy, wet conditions because they have a water repellent wax coating and are quick drying.  The durable G1000 fabric with double knee reinforcements made them hard wearing enough for scrambling over the rocks.  The pockets have room for a map, compass, knife and everything else we needed on the trail. There’s even a pocket for an axe!

 

WBS15_83806_NVYBPatagonia Torrentshell Jacket – This shell is super waterproof for the changeable Skye weather, but still breathable and has pit-zips for extra ventilation. It cuts out the wind, which we appreciated at the exposed peak. It packs down into its own pocket so it fitted easily into our packs when we didn’t need it. The fabric is ripstop, so again, it was good for scrambling over rocks.

 

BerglerLady-Chestnut-1Hanwag Bergler Hiking Boots – This Alpine mountain boot was great on the rocky terrain on Skye, which is the closest we have to Alpine in the UK, and often used for Alpine training. The flexible Vibram sole makes them comfortable to walk in and the leather lining and tongue prevented rubbing. Our feet stayed dry, even going through the high water on the stepping stones (well mine did, Ian’s would’ve done if he didn’t always have to go for a paddle!)

 

See also:

Getting to, and around Skye

Campsites and Pubs on Skye