Kent Ramblers

Walk of the Month

Walk 82: Harbledown and Dunkirk

Distance:  10.7 miles (5 hours)

OS Map:  Explorer 149 & 150 (Start at grid reference TR 125581)

Start at Lower Harbledown, 2 miles west of Canterbury (Vernon Holme Junior School)

Please note WM=Waymarker
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1 To start the walk, go to the L of the school (towards Canterbury) to the first WM. Go down the FP and over the bridge, up through the orchard to a concrete Farm track where you turn R. Continue beyond the end of the track across a field to the first stile, turn R go down the hill and continue to the road.

2 Turn L along the road, going over the A2 to the first kissing gate on the R after the bridge. This is now part of the North Downs Way, follow the WMs through Howfield Wood bearing L at the Y-Junction until another FP (CB513) crosses. Follow the right-hand WM. The path leads out of the wood and across a field of hops (which you may have to divert round) to a small bridge; cross and go up through the orchard to a WM, where you bear L.  Follow the hedgerow of the orchard round to an access road, which will take you up over the A2 to Upper Harbledown.

3 Cross the bridge and follow the road to the T-junction, bearing L of the village hall when crossing the road.  Enter Church Wood on a well-trodden permissive footpath and continue for about a mile, ignoring a track coming in from the left, to reach a T-junction and a well-surfaced track.  Turn R and continue along a wide track until the next T-junction where you turn L and enter North Bishops Den Wood; continue to bridleway.

4 At the WM turn L and continue all the way up to the next T-Junction (WM); turn L again. Follow the FP round to a tarmac road (Bossenden Farm access road). Turn L to the Red Lion Pub – half way.

5 From the Red Lion carry on up the hill (Canterbury Rd.) taking the next L which again goes over the A2; on the R is the entrance and access road to Foresters Lodge Farm, a WM directs straight down to the Farm, where another  WM directs you L across an open field.

6 Cross the field into South Bishops Den Wood and follow the WM to a fork, where you bear L.  The path takes you through Fishpond Wood; keep to the path for about a mile until you reach the edge of the wood at a T-junction with a mesh fence in front of you.  Turn L along the fence until you reach a stile. Cross the field to the far L-hand corner, go over the stile and continue straight through a small copse, out into the orchards. Keeping to the hedgerow you will reach a Farm track crossing the FP; turn L and follow the track.

7 Follow the track to reach the next WM at a junction of FPs; take the R-hand path and continue up the hill along the hedgerow to a narrow access road. Go over the stile and carry on down the road to reach the WM which directs you L from the road onto a Byway; continue through to a main country road – take care.  Bear R up a steep hill into Chartham Hatch.

8 Keeping the Village Hall on your L turn sharply L into Bigbury Rd and continue down the road to reach the WM for The North Downs Way. Turn L through the playing fields to “No Mans Orchard”. The FP continues along the side of the orchard to a kissing gate; go through the gate and follow the FP into Howfield Wood, then continue back along the FP to the first kissing gate of the walk.  Turn L along the road and over the bridge - keep to this road to take you back to Vernon Holme School.

This walk was originally published on a calendar produced by White Cliffs Group.  Thanks to Roy Crane for originally devising this route, Rob Riddle for the photograph, Diana Blackwell for checking the directions and Andrew Boultbee for the idea.

Places of Interest

A  At Dunkirk the last armed uprising in England took place in 1838.  After a pitched battle with the army, the body of the rebel leader, William Courtenay, was displayed at The Red Lion.

B  No Man’s Orchard: the apple orchard has been left to grow naturally for the wild life to flourish with many old varieties of apple; woodcarvings are laid out amongst the trees.

Public transport:

Bus No. 3 (Canterbury to Faversham)

Our book of Ten Favourite Walks in the Kent Countryside has routes for ten more walks like this one.

Ramblers' volunteers in Kent work tirelessly to ensure that our paths are as well protected and maintained as possible.  Of course we also organise led walks but most of our members are independent walkers who simply want to support our footpath work.  Please join us and become a supporter too.  You need us and we really need you.

If you find that the directions and map for this walk are incorrect in any way, please report the problem to

Map based on Ordnance Survey mapping released into the public domain under the OpenData agreement.

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