Canterbury to New Romney
From cathedral to cliffs – travel across the Kent Downs
Follow the route - Canterbury to New Romney
> From Canterbury take the A28 to Chartham.
The valley of the Great Stour, with gravel pits and small lakes, is noted for fishing and bird life, and Chartham is a well-known angling centre. St Mary’s Church dates from the 13th century and has one of the oldest sets of bells in the country. There is a beautiful garden centre near Chartham.
Further along is Chilham, where the village square is set at the gateway to Chilham Castle, built for Henry II in 1174. The castle is not open to the public, although on rare occasions events are held in the grounds. The village has quaint pubs and antiques shops. The church has a stone-and-flint tower, and the largely unspoilt houses around the square are in Tudor and Jacobean style.
Places to stay in Chartham
> Pick up the A28 from Chilham and travel south for 2 miles (3km) then turn off left on to unclassified roads to Wye.
Until 2009 this village was home to the famous Agriculture School of Imperial College London, housed in a college first set up in the mid-15th century by John Kempe, a native of the town, who became Archbishop of Canterbury. The town is also the location of 18th-century Olantigh Hall, with gardens occasionally open to the public.
Places to stay in Wye
> Return to the A28 for 5 miles (8km) to Ashford.
This old market centre for Romney Marsh and the Weald of Kent is now a thriving shopping and touring centre. Medieval, Tudor and Georgian houses still survive and the 14th- and 15th-century parish church retains much of its old character.
Godinton House, northwest of town, was built in the 17th century. The rooms are full of Chippendale and Sheraton furniture, and there is fine topiary work in the garden.
Places to stay in Ashford
> From Ashford follow an unclassified road to the A2070, then the A259 across Romney Marsh to Rye.
Rye is one of the Cinque Ports, a group of maritime towns which were originally responsible for providing ships and men to guard against invasion. At one time Rye was almost encircled by the sea, but the harbour silted up in the 16th century and eventually the water receded. In the winter, when mists roll in across the countryside, Romney Marsh can be sinister and mysterious – a fitting background to the haunting tales of the infamous parson and smuggler Dr Syn.
Places to stay in Rye
> Head back on the A259 to East Guldeford, then take an unclassified road right, through Camber to Lydd to join the B2075 to New Romney.
Visiting New Romney
Another ancient Cinque Port, now inland from the sea, New Romney was destroyed in 1287 by a violent storm which changed the course of the River Rother. The Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch narrow gauge railway opened in 1927, with locomotives and carriages which are one-third full size. Toys and models can be seen at New Romney station.