• Start: Hamstreet National Nature Reserve, Hamstreet, near Ashford TN26 2DU
  • End: Hamstreet National Nature Reserve
  • Country: England
  • County: Kent
  • Type: Country
  • Nearest pub: The Duke’s Head public house in the village
  • Ordnance Survey: Ordnance Survey Explorer 125
  • Difficulty: Medium
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Stroll through the ancient Hamstreet Woods, part of the national nature reserve, with its many moths and birds living among the trees

Kent walk of the month: in ancient woodlands

Stroll through the ancient Hamstreet Woods, part of the national nature reserve, with its many moths and birds living among the trees


Location: Hamstreet National Nature Reserve, Hamstreet, near Ashford TN26 2DU

Distance: 2.3 miles (3.7km), allow 1 hour 15 minutes

OS Explorer Map: 125

Terrain: well-defined tracks

Stiles: 2

Gates: 5

Step count: approx: 4,600

Parking: There is parking at the start of the route or on the roads

Refreshments and facilities: The Dukes Head public house in the village and local shops

Perfect if you want to leave the car at home, simply hop on a train to Hamstreet station and you will arrive at the edge of this beautiful landscape, thought to be more than 400 years old.

The reserve sits on the steep slope of the old Saxon shoreline which has now shifted 10 km back from the sea. This makes it a good site for archaeology and contains many well-preserved medieval ditches and banks and the remains of a dam.

The abundance of tree species such as silver birches, hornbeams and oaks are joined by bluebells, honeysuckle and wood anemone nestling within the woods. Look out for the carpets of Dogs Mercury, the tiny flowers of the Tormentil plant, once used in medicine and the rustling heather, which can all be found here.

Many breeding birds can be seen on the reserve. These include the fascinating treecreepers which cling onto the bark looking for food. Tiny spotted flycatchers may be hard to see but listen out for their distinctive, drawn-out soft and high-pitched calls to one another.

Hawfinches are much more eyecatching, with their orange heads and big bills, and there are also nightingales and sparrowhawks.

The area is part of Orlestone Forest, a fragmented area of woodland that is the remnant of a continuous oak forest that once covered the Weald. It is home to a large number of rare invertebrates living on the deadwood on the woodland floor.

The eagle-eyed among you may spot some of the many moths and butterflies. Among the species of moth are the beautifully named Lesser Belle, Sub-angled Wave and the scarce Merveille du jour which fly alongside the many butterflies - including the common blue, grizzled and dingy skippers, and red and white admirals.

This walk takes in parts of the Greensand Way and the Saxon Shore Way, two longer distance routes around Kent. Why not plan to come back another day and follow more of the route of the Saxon Shore Way, named after the line of historic fortifications that defended the Kent coast at the end of the Roman era?

This 160 miles (257km) route from the bustling port of Gravesend, in North Kent, to the popular seaside town of Hastings in East Sussex, offers some of the finest coastal walking in England. The route features a range of landscapes and scenery, as well as a wealth of cultural and historic interest.

As you end your walk back at Hamstreet, why not stop off for a well-earned rest at one of the five pubs in the village? Look out for the stone canonball near the flagpole in Hamstreet, which was a gift from the mayor of the villages French twin town Therouanne , presented with the words you can have your cannonball back - as English troops had once invaded them.

Stories of smugglers echo through the generations of residents, although the area has gained much less darker national recognition in more recent years. Hamstreet was one of the first areas of England to be mapped by the Ordnance Survey and in 1991 in recognition of this the village appeared on a special edition set of postage stamps marking the bi-centenary of the Ordnance Survey.

Explore Kent is your one-stop shop forKent's best walks, bike rides, horse rides and parks.With inspirationalvideos, a freeiPhone app, maps, ideas for days out and much more, you canexplore and enjoyKent's countryside and coast.

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