The Crundale Downs & Great Stour River
17.7km (11 miles), 5 hours. For the whole outing, including trains, sights and meals, allow at least 9 hours 30 minutes.
6 out of 10
Explorer 137 or Landranger 189. Wye, map reference TR 048 470, is in Kent, 6km north-east of Ashford.
This walk goes high up on the Crundale Downs (“crun” in Old English meant chalk, and ‘dala’ meant dell or valley), with breathtaking views. The walk comes to an isolated Norman church at Crundale, then on to a fifteenth century inn for lunch (though sadly this pub now insists on advance booking: if you are not eating at the pub you can save 2km off the route by a shortcut). The walk then passes Crundale House and the manor of Olantigh, crosses the River Great Stour and returns to Wye through its churchyard, for tea at a teashop at the bottom of Church Street or at a pub next to the railway station.
Beware that parts of the route can be very muddy in wet weather, so be prepared.
You could call a taxi from the lunchtime pub. Or you could save 2km by not having lunch at the pub and by descending on a by-way from Crundale church, your direction 290°, to rejoin the main route beside Crundale House. Or you could turn left at the T-junction just after point  and walk along the road into Wye.
You could "mix and match" this walk with SWC Walk 138 - Chilham Circular. Both share the same lunch pub in Sole Street, Crundale. Either start with the Wye Circular walk until lunchtime, then switch to the Chilham walk for its pretty afternoon leg, making a walk of 17.7 km (11 miles) or start with the opening leg of Walk 138 and switch to the afternoon leg of the Wye Circular walk, making a walk of 16 km (9.9 miles).
The Crown Memorial, cut into the hillside outside Wye, is a unique landmark constructed in mid-June 1902 out of flintstones to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VII. The King viewed the Crown illumination from Eastwell Park on 02 July 1904. The Crown is part of a Site of Special Scientific Interest (SSSI) surrounded by rare downland herbs, orchids and butterflies.
To mark the Millennium celebrations a Crown Millennium Stone was added just above the Memorial.
The Church of St Mary in Crundale is thought to be on a Roman site and still retains Norman parts. Inside is a nearly life-sized memorial slab commemorating the Rev John Sprot, who died in 1466 and is depicted in his full vestments.
The Church of St Gregory and St Martin in Wye dates from the twelfth or early thirteenth century and was larger than it is now – its tower collapsed in 1686. Wye College, next to the church, was founded in 1447 by John Kempe, the Archbishop of York, and is now part of Wye Agricultural College, University of London.
Take the train nearest to 9.10am from Charing Cross Station to Wye. Journey time 1 hour 30 minutes. For a premium, you can reduce the journey time to 1 hour by taking the High Speed Train from St Pancras and changing at Ashford International. Trains back to Charing Cross run twice an hour; change at Ashford for the High Speed Train to St Pancras.
The only lunch pub on this walk, the Compasses Inn (tel. 01227 700300) in Sole Street, is a gourmet pub serving excellent (but expensive) cuisine. Please note the pub's management insists on advance booking (rigidly: in April 2016 it was reluctant to serve three walkers who turned up on spec, even though the pub was nearly empty). Booking from Wye station at walk start is fine, as is amending the numbers, but do try to keep to your e.t.a. If you miss your slot by fifteen minutes, your order will not be taken until after the next bookers have arrived. The pub serves food from 12 noon to 2.30 pm, Tuesday to Saturday and till 6pm on Sundays (closed Mondays). As noted earlier, the quality of the cuisine is excellent - but then it has to be as the management is "difficult" to put it politely.
The former pub in Hassell Street, marked on old OS maps, closed long ago.
On returning to Wye, through the churchyard of the Church of St Gregory and St Martin, instead of turning right and heading for the railway station, you can take the road directly ahead (Church Street). 60 metres down this road is the Kings Head pub (tel.01233 812418), an old coaching inn. In addition to the usual alcoholic drinks, it serves tea and coffee and has a choice of cakes for afternoon tea. Keep on down Church Street for another 70 metres and at the bottom you come to Wye Coffee Shop and Kitchen (tel. 01233 812452), a café and deli, open until 5pm, Tuesdays to Thursdays, until ‘late’ on Fridays, until 4pm on Saturdays and until 3pm on Sundays.
But the main, suggested tea/refreshment stop at walk-end is the Tickled Trout pub (tel. 01233 812227), next to the railway station, which serves food all day in summer, and between 12pm and 2.30pm and 6pm to 9pm in winter. The pub enjoys a large beer garden overlooking the River Great Stour. Please note the pub closes during the afternoon, weekdays, in winter, re-opening at 6pm.
No major changes. This edition September 2017.
An earlier version of this walk was published in Time Out Country Walks near London volume 1. We now recommend using this online version as the book is now dated.
After the walk, we would love to get your feedback
Out: (not a train station)
Back: (not a train station)
National Rail: 03457 48 49 50 • Travelline SE (bus times): 0871 200 2233 (12p/min) • TFL (London) : 0343 222 1234
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The directions for this walk are also in a PDF (link above) which you can download on to a Kindle, tablet, or smartphone.
The [numbers] and sketch map they refer to, is only in the book.
-  Walk to the end of Platform 2 at Wye Station towards the footbridge to exit the station at the far end of the platform. Turn left and cross over the level crossing to pass the station building on your left-hand side.
- In 40 metres you cross Wye Bridge over the River Great Stour, then pass the Tickled Trout pub on the other side. 30 metres past the pub turn left on Churchfield Way.
- In 80 metres, as the road curves right, ignore the first lane off to the left by a house called Kelston. In 55 metres turn left on an estate road (Abbots Walk).
- The road swings to the right and in 115 metres, at a cross roads with a green space ahead and to your right, [!] turn left on a concrete road that looks like a dead end, heading due north, with house no. 44 on your left-hand side. In 30 metres, at the end of the road, turn right, due east, with house no. 52 on your left-hand side.
- In 55 metres the road bears left, and by a concrete public footpath marker, go through a wooden gate, cross a field enclosure and in 10 metres go through a wooden kissing gate. Keep ahead across a field, your direction 45°, on a clear path.
- In 180 metres go through a metal fieldgate and in 6 metres through a wooden swing gate to turn right on a tarmac lane , your direction 130°. In a further 40 metres cross over a cattle grid. In 200 metres you pass another cattle grid. In 20 metres go over a tarmac road  to continue straight ahead on Occupation Road, following a North Downs Way (NDW) sign.
- You pass buildings of Wye School on your left-hand side. Keep ahead, now with a tall hedge on your left and single storey business units on your right. In 175 metres the hedge ends and in a further 110 metres go through a metal gate to the left of a metal fieldgate, with a NDW sign on its post.
- In 60 metres you cross Wibberley Way (a permissive path) to continue straight on, with an open field on your left and a tree line on your right, steadily upwards towards the Crown Memorial carved into the hillside.
- In 270 metres, by a footpath post on your right, ignore the Stour Valley Walk going off to the left. In a further 275 metres cross a tarmac lane and continue uphill with a hedge on your left and an open field on your right, your direction 85 °, signposted NDW.
- In 250 metres there is a fine view back over the valley just before you enter a wood through a wooden swing gate, to continue steeply upwards. Follow the NDW post sign and in 20 metres cross a path junction and keep ahead.
- In 90 metres [!] turn right onto a narrow, permissive path which soon swings to the right, uphill, through woodland.
- Keep ahead as this path winds steadily uphill through the wood.
- In 235 metres you exit the wood over a stile and continue ahead, now on the Ridgeway, a grassy way, your initial direction 165°, with the valley out beneath you on your right-hand side.
- In 100 metres, at the corner of a fence on your left-hand side, bear left and at a wooden bench, turn right, with a small hollow on your right and the Crown Millennium Stone just below you, above the Crown Memorial on the hillside below.
- Carry on, along an undulating grassy path, your direction 150°, keeping the hillside on your right. In 165 metres go through a metal kissing gate, to follow the NDW arrow, with a fence on your left-hand side, your direction now 145 °.
- In 250 metres  leave the North Downs Way [!] to go through a metal kissing gate on your left, marked with a yellow circular walk arrow, to cross a field on an indistinct path, your direction 80°. In 110 metres go through a metal kissing gate to the left of a metal fieldgate to go down into a wood on a footpath, your direction 135°.
- In 115 metres, at the other end of the wood and at the bottom of the slope, go straight on with the edge of the wood now on your right-hand side and Coombe Manor ahead on your left-hand side, initially downhill.
- The path levels out and in 275 metres you come to a tarmac lane, with a metal fieldgate opposite and a post with yellow arrow on your right. Here turn left down the lane, your direction 25°.
- In 145 metres by a “Dead Slow” sign, turn right through an open wooden fieldgate, following a footpath sign, gently uphill on a grassy way, your direction due east. In 120 metres, at the top of the field, turn left through a rusting metal fieldgate. In 25 metres, by a footpath post on your left-hand side, and 25 metres before you reach a gate directly ahead of you, turn right up the hillside on a wide, grassy path, with the edge of the wood over to your left.
- In 225 metres (and 20 metres before the metal fieldgate ahead of you), drop down the bank to your left and go over a stile down into the wood, your direction 25°. In 35 metres exit the wood through a metal kissing gate to continue down a field with the edge of the wood on your left-hand side, your direction 60°.
- In 140 metres pass through a field boundary and swing left, initially downhill, then keep ahead. Stay close to the field edge and in a further 340 metres go through a metal kissing gate and come out on to an earth lane.
- Go left and then [!] immediately fork right by a Byway sign , along the car-wide earth lane, your direction 350°. Stay on this byway, uphill, through the wood of beech and chestnut trees, ignoring all ways off. The path eventually levels out and passes through several muddy sections (passable by detouring into the wood on your left-hand side).
- In 680 metres you have a view out over the valley to your left. In a further 150 metres you come to an open field on your right-hand side, with views now over to your right. In a further 160 metres ignore a broken stile on your right-hand side.
- In 20 metres go through a metal fieldgate ahead of you and keep straight on, your direction 345 °, between field fences, on a car-wide path. The path at first goes downhill, then uphill, and then downhill again, in 700 metres coming out into the car park of the Church of St Mary, Crundale, on your right (well worth a visit).
- After visiting the church, leave the churchyard by its main gate, by the war memorial and turn right on the tarmac lane, downhill, your direction 105°.
- In 450 metres, at a T-junction  follow the sign to the Compasses Inn to the left, along a tarmac lane. In 600 metres, having climbed steeply for the last part, you come to a T-junction where you turn right, due east. In 250 metres this brings you on your left to the suggested lunch pub, the Compasses Inn.
- After lunch, turn right out of the pub. In 250 metres ignore the lane on your left on which you came up before lunch. In 125 metres ignore the dirt road that forks to the right uphill, a signposted footpath.
- In 170 metres ignore a path to the right marked by a new Byway sign. But then in 40 metres , as the road swings to the right, follow the footpath sign [!] to fork left through a wooden swing gate to the left of a wooden fieldgate in a tractor-wide gap in the hedge. Then go downhill on a path, half right across a field, your direction 235°.
- In 150 metres, at the edge of this field, cross an old hedge line and a path crossing and continue straight on, now gently downhill, on a car-wide path, your direction 250 °.
- In 145 metres the car-wide path swings to the right [!] but you keep ahead on a narrow path uphill between fields, your direction 240°. In 230 metres the path leads you along the left-hand edge of a wood.
- In 80 metres, at the field corner, turn right and cross a stile into the wood. In 10 metres, at a path junction, ignore the stile directly ahead of you, some 20 metres away, but instead bear left, downwards, through the wood, your direction 290°.
- In 70 metres you come out on to a tarmac road where you go right. In 110 metres turn sharp left on the driveway of Crundale House, your direction 175°. In 10 metres fork left on a footpath by a public footpath concrete marker, your direction 120°.
- In 25 metres go over a stile between two metal fieldgates and follow the path between hedges. This path is often overgrown and in high summer can be difficult to negotiate. In 85 metres ignore the wooden gate on your left-hand side and keep ahead, now with a barbed wire topped post and wire fence on your left-hand side. If your way ahead is blocked by overgrowth and brambles, return to the wooden gate, go through it and make your way along the bank parallel to and above the path until you reach the metal gate mentioned below.
- In 155 metres, you reach a metal gate on your left-hand side.[!] The original route takes you to a stile some 10 metres past this gate, but you may find this last leg completely overgrown. If you can reach the stile, on your left-hand side, go right, steeply down steps, your direction 280°, and in 15 metres go over a stile. If you cannot, turn right by the metal gate to drop down the bank to another metal gate. Having crossed the stile or gone through the metal gate, your way forward is across a field, your direction 250°, aiming for the left-hand side of an industrial shed and stables.
- In 65 metres go through a metal fieldgate and over a concrete farm road, with stables on your right-hand side. In 10 metres go through a metal fieldgate and keep straight on, your direction 260°, with a field hedge and fence on your right-hand side.
- In 100 metres [!] you go over a stile on your right-hand side. In 5 metres drop down to a road, which you cross to continue straight on uphill, on an earth road, your direction 240° initially.
- In 35 metres, at the end of the wooden fence on your right-hand side, follow the yellow arrow to the right, your direction 320°, on a clear grassy path with the hedge and then the back garden of Crundale House on your right.
- At the end of the garden hedge, by a footpath post, keep ahead, slightly left, across the field ahead, following the line of telegraph poles, your direction 300 °. In 180 metres keep ahead through a field boundary, now with a wire fence on your right.
- In 90 metres, when the path reaches the garden hedge ahead of you, turn left alongside it, your direction 250°, with the garden hedge on your right-hand side. In 100 metres, and 8 metres beyond the house, you go right through a wooden gate, your direction 335°. In 25 metres go straight on, now on the driveway of Farnley Little Barn.
- In 40 metres you come to a tarmac road where you go left, uphill, your direction 255°. In 120 metres  take the signposted footpath left. In 15 metres, ignore the footpath to the left and follow the footpath ahead up into the wood, your direction 260°.
- Keep ahead as the path winds its way uphill and in 125 metres you come to a crossing with an earth car-wide track where you turn right, your direction 300°. In 45 metres you come out on to a tarmac road which you cross to go through a wooden kissing gate, then turn left, your direction now 210 °, with the field fence on your left-hand side.
- In 150 metres you bear slightly to the right to make for the bottom, far right-hand corner of the field. There you go over a stile and across a field, slightly to the left, aiming for a footpath post on its far side, your direction 275°.
- In 160 metres you enter a wood. In a further 20 metres you come to an earth track with grass down its middle, where you go left, due south. In 40 metres you leave the wood through a wooden gate to the left of a metal fieldgate and go half right across a vast field, your direction 230°.
- In 340 metres, you cross a stile by a footpath sign (if overgrown, go through the gate 40 metres to its left) and come out on to a car road, where you go right, your direction 300°.
- In 280 metres you pass Ripple Farm Organics on your left-hand side and Little Olantigh Farm on your right. In 20 metres  ignore a fork left to Brook and turn right, signposted Wye.
- In 300 metres you come to a T-junction where you go right, signposted Crundale. (To shorten the walk, turn left here and walk along the road for 2 km into the centre of Wye).
- In 30 metres [!] turn left through a metal kissing gate to the left of a wooden swing gate on a signposted footpath, your direction 320°, downhill, and head towards the footbridge ahead. The Chapel and Manor of Olantigh (as marked on the OS map) are visible, away on your left-hand side.
- In 215 metres you cross the River Stour on the steel footbridge with wooden gates at both ends. On the far side, turn half right, your direction 330°, across a field. In 125 metres you pass through a metal fieldgate into the next field. Keep ahead, your direction now 310°.
- In 200 metres you pass Finches House on your left-hand side. In a further 25 metres you go through a wooden swing gate to cross the railway line. On its other side go through a wooden kissing gate and keep ahead along an access drive. In 120 metres you come to a T-junction by Home Farm House where you go left, your direction 260°, gently uphill.
- In 200 metres (and 35 metres before a phone box on the far side of the A28 road)  go left on an earth car road, your direction 200°. In 40 metres you come out into a field to go straight across it, your direction 205°.
- In 250 metres, at the left-hand corner of a wood, go through a metal swing gate to continue in your previous direction (205°), now with a fence and the wood on your right-hand side.
- Keep ahead along the field edge, in 150 metres passing a metal fieldgate on your right-hand side. In a further 110 metres, where the boundary swings sharply to the left [!] turn right through a metal swing gate. Follow the yellow arrow and continue onwards, slightly right, your direction 220° across a vast field.
- In 385 metres cross a stream on a plank bridge and pass through a gap in the hedge, some 15 metres to the right of the hedge corner and then fork left, due south. In 90 metres go through a gap in the hedge and onwards across another field, your direction 140°.
- In 215 metres drop down and go through a field boundary to cross the river and its tributary on two double-plank bridges. On the far side, turn right along the riverbank on an often overgrown path, your direction 165°.
- In 120 metres go over a stile and cross the railway line, then another stile and over a concrete bridge with metal railings over the River Great Stour. On the other side of the bridge, turn right with the path, your initial direction 160 °, and continue as the path soon swings to the left.
- In 60 metres take the path to the right of a redundant gate, with a ditch to your left, your direction 150°. In 300 metres you cross a drain on a concrete, tractor-wide platform, to go through a metal fieldgate. Now bear half right across a grassy field, gently uphill, aiming for the top left-hand corner of the field as it narrows, your initial direction 165°, with a farm house over to your left. In 150 metres and before you reach the top left-hand corner,  turn left through a wooden gate in the house fence line, then turn right and in 40 metres go through another wooden gate to come out onto a farm access road, which you cross, to go through another wooden gate.
- Now cross the corner of a field and in 40 metres go through a wooden gate to come out onto the tarmac lane directly opposite the wooden swing gate and path which you came down on in the morning leg of the walk. Here turn left on the lane.
- In 100 metres turn right through a wooden swing gate to go along a path, with a hedge on your left-hand side and a fence on your right, your direction 220°.
- In 150 metres you come into the churchyard of the Church of St Gregory and St Martin in Wye.
- For tea at Wye Coffee Shop and Kitchen or a drink at the Kings Head pub, cross over the road and walk ahead down Church Street. The pub is 60 metres on the right-hand side and the café another 70 metres down the road, on your right, at the junction with Upper Bridge Street. To continue the walk from the cafe turn right down Upper Bridge Street. In 415 metres you come down to the road junction with the Tickled Trout pub ahead and on your right.
- For the direct route to the railway station and or refreshments at the Tickled Trout pub: coming out of the churchyard, turn right on the main road (High Street). This soon becomes Churchfield Way and in 400 metres you pass Abbots Walk on your right. Now retrace your steps at the beginning of the walk to pass the Tickled Trout pub on your right.
- Cross back over the bridge over the River Great Stour to Wye Station. The platform for trains to Ashford and London is on your near side.