Plovers - Dungeness and Romney Marsh Bird Tours and B&B
Romney Marsh Walking Tours
At Plovers we now offer a series of walks set amongst the wide open spaces of Romney Marsh. These are modelled on our popular three day bird watching breaks and are fully inclusive; this includes a two night stay, all meals and transport around the Marsh. Based at Plovers each walk has been planned to take in a range of geographical features and include aspects of wildlife and historical interest along the way. A combination of walks can be undertaken depending upon weather conditions and ability
Needless to say most of the walks are at or around sea level, so crampons and oxygen masks are not required! Flat terrain is largely the order of the day and while some tracks may be muddy after rain, generally speaking this part of the country is one of the driest regions in the British Isles making for good walking conditions throughout.
Pebble Paradise - 6 Miles
We start at Plovers and take in the Lade sound mirrors, an acoustic early warning system that was abandoned with the advent of radar in the 1930`s. The old gravel pits are home to medicinal leeches, marsh frogs, grass snakes and a wealth of birdlife. We then strike out across the shingle storm beaches towards the Edwardian water tower, on the edge of the RSPB reserve, crossing the Lydd road at Boulderwall Farm. The walk then bisects two massive lakes before skirting the Oppen Pits, formerly the only naturally occurring source of fresh water on Denge Beach. As we head out across Dungeness Desert the presence of the nuclear power station looms ever larger, before arriving at the RNSS cottages which houses Dungeness Bird Observatory.
Here we take a break by the Romney Hythe and Dymchurch light railway station and have an opportunity to explore the old lighthouse, which is now a museum. The Dungeness estate has a number of interesting buildings including Prospect Cottage, the former home of film director Derek Jarman, the Pilot Inn, an old wreckers pub, and the busy Dungeness lifeboat station.
The return to Plovers can be made either along the foreshore at low tide, or by way of tracks through the Desert on the National Nature Reserve. During the summer months the area is renowned for its variety of wild flowers.
Vikings and Saxons - 5 miles
We start the walk in the pretty Saxon village of Appledore that once upon a time had access to the sea before the marshes were drained. We then strike out along the Saxon Shore Way, a long distance path that begins at Gravesend and follows the Kentish shoreline round to Hastings in Sussex. Our aim is the church of St Mary at Kenardington which was formerly the site of a Saxon fort captured by the Vikings back in 892 AD. This section of the walk affords stunning views across the Romney Marshes.
From Kenardington we drop down onto the Dowels a large, low lying area of grazing land and one of the last parts of the Marsh to be reclaimed from the sea in the 14th century. We then follow the northern rampart of the Royal Military Canal back to Appledore where we can explore the village and the church of St Peter and St Paul.
Five Medieval Churches - 9 miles
The medieval churches of Romney Marsh are one of its great architectural treasures and this walk takes in five, including one of the lost churches. The reason there are so many in such a small area is in part due to much of the land being owned by the church and in particular the diocese of Canterbury. We start by one of the grandest, St Nicholas, complete with its impressive Norman tower, in the Cinque port town of New Romney. Today it seems hard to believe that ships once moored just beyond the churchyard walls, prior to the Great Storm of 1287AD that so dramatically altered the Marsh coastline and deprived the town of its access to the sea.
We then leave New Romney and head out across open farmland towards the spired church at St Mary-in- the-Marsh, the final resting place of Edith Nesbit, author of the children’s classic, `The Railway Children`. The church also plays host to a local farming museum.
Our next stop is St Georges Church, Ivychurch where Cromwell’s soldiers paused a while during the Civil War. It’s then on to Old Romney and the delightful Saxon church of St Clement where Walt Disney filmed their 1960`s film `Dr Syn, Alias the Scarecrow`. The old manor house nearby was the centre of what was once a thriving sea port alongside the old Rhee Wall, now the A259, that runs from Brenzett to New Romney.
The final section of the walk takes us to one of the Lost Churches of Romney Marsh on the outskirts of New Romney, and the church of Hope All Saints. The ruin became a regular meeting point for smugglers where they often encountered Prevention Officers. The nine mile circuit is completed back in New Romney.
Cathedral of the Marsh - 3.5 miles
A short walk that starts and finishes in Coronation Square, Lydd beside the historic church of All Saints, know locally as the `Cathedral of the Marsh`. Cardinal Wolsey was a former rector of Lydd and it was then that the tower was raised to its present height of 132 feet enabling it be seen from across Romney Marsh. The graveyard is the final resting place of Thomas Edgar, captain of HMS Resolution, who was with the explorer James Cook when he died on Hawaii in 1779.
We then walk out onto Walland Marsh past a series of lakes left over from gravel extraction. Ditches, known as sewers in these parts, criss-cross the landscape and we pass over Jury’s Gut Sewer one of the original hand excavated sewers used for `inning`, or draining the marshes for agricultural purposes. Walland Marsh is largely devoid of settlements, due to past inundations, and it is here that the imposing Cheyne Court Wind Farm is situated.
As we return from Scotney Court Farm the Lydd Army ranges are in front of us and we can glimpse the Holmstone, an ancient holly forest, that was planted out on the shingle beach, probably as far back as the 8th century. The wood was used to construct sea defences or groynes.
In the summer months the museum in Lydd is well worth a visit and we finish the walk beside the Rype, one of the largest village greens in Kent.
Walland Walk - 5 miles
This walk starts and finishes by the church of St Augustine in Brookland, which is unusual in that the wooden belfry stands beside the main building as it could not bear the weight of the bells on the soft marshy ground. Inside, the lead font dates back to the 12th Century and was made by Flemish craftsmen.
Our walk then heads out across Walland Marsh home to flocks of Romney sheep and the past haunt of `owlers` as wool smugglers were known, due their nocturnal habits. Wool was the main product smuggled across the Channel in exchange for the likes of brandy and tobacco.
The desolate parish of Fairfield is our aim with its isolated church set amongst low lying sheep folds and probably one of the most photographed churches in the region. In former times parishioners had to use a boat to reach the church during winter floods.
The surrounding marshy ground and sewers are the home of marsh frogs, locally known as the Laughing Frog due to its call. Introduced at nearby Stone-in-Oxney from the continent in 1935 the Marsh Frog has now displaced our native species and colonised all corners of the Marsh.
Pett Level - 5 miles
A circular walk set on the western extremity of the Marshes in Sussex. We start at Toot Rock by the village of Pett and head out towards Pannel Valley nature reserve where we cross the Royal Military Canal. At the top of the hill we pick up the 1066 Country Walk footpath near Hog Hill windmill with its commanding views across the Brede Valley to the north.
Our path then heads east towards the town of Winchelsea which was built after the Great Storm of 1287 that destroyed the coastal settlement of Old Winchelsea. New Winchelsea is noted for its medieval grid system that was used for the basis of the road plan in New York City.
Our route then winds its way back down onto the flatlands of Pett Levels and along the sea wall overlooking Rye Bay.
Pat and Paul Trodd
Plovers, 1 Toby Road, Lydd-on-Sea
Romney Marsh, Kent TN29 9PG
Phone 01797 366935 & 07920 197535
Updated weekly during 2018
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