I have decided to re-instate our article on the
Whitstable-Canterbury cycle path. Rather than try to photograph
the entire route in one outing, I have decided to collect shots in
sections. This approach is less arduous and allows time to look
around at nearby features.
Taken on 10 May 2011, the photos below show the stretch of path from
Brooklands Farm at South Street to the winding pond at Clowes Wood.
1-3: The Start
Our journey starts at South Street where a stile
warns the hardy path user of the South Street traffic. The stile has
been adapted to accommodate cycles and a curious metal post marks
the status and destination of the path...
The gravel path skirts the outbuildings of
Brooklands farm and heads off towards Clowes Wood in the
Our older ex-pat Natives will know this route from
their childhood days.... because this was once a muddy and deeply
rutted farm cart track. Throughout its route, the cycle path
utilises and resurfaces existing pathways.
Many regard the cycle way as being synonymous with
old Canterbury & Whistable Railway line... and it does
indeed use part of the old track for part of its journey. However,
for much of the time, it shadows the old rail route rather than
sits upon it. In the photo below, we look back towards the South
Street stile. The C&WR line actually followed a line just to
the right of the factory building on the far left. In modern
times, this section of track has disappeared under farm land.
4-7: Looking Around
Away from the tarmac of roads and the hubbub
of traffic, the path gives us time to view some well known features
from a different perspective. The shot below shows South Street
crossing the Chestfield/Swalecliffe Brook at the red bridge. In
the distance, the more remote section of Chestfield Golf Course
can be seen on the steep slope of Shrub Hill.
Far more bizzare is a view across the fields
towards Grasmere Road in the village of Chestfeld....
Quite unbelievably, you can spot the turbines of
the Kentish Flats wind farm... despite the fact that we are 3
miles from the beach at Long Rock and the turbines lie a further 5 miles
offshore!!!! The photos (above and below) were taken with a
telephoto lens of course.
Even less explainable is the scene below....
Have we finally proved that crop circles are
indeed the creation of men from space... or is it just difficult
to get Channel 5 in the South Street area? ;-)
8-9: Pressing On
Moving on, our track twists and turns as it tumbles
into the valley of The Brook.... just as it did when it was used
merely by tractors and adventurous kids of the 1950s. However, there is a big
Back in our childhood days, it was a smooth dip to
a ford and footbridge across the stream and it was followed by an equally
smooth ascent into Clowes Wood. However, we now have a new hump to
negotiate as shown in the centre of our photo. This is a bridge
that carries the path over the New Thanet Way (A299) dual carriage way. The shot below
takes a closer look.
10-12: From the Bridge
Having mounted the steep slope of the bridge, we
get a chance to look around and take stock. Looking back towards
South Street, little appears to have changed since the 1950s.
Brooklands farmhouse remains on the far right of our photo
below... albeit with more modern outbuildings.....
However, things are very different if we look in
other directions.... and below us. Beneath or feet, the traffic of the New Thanet
Way thunders along the tarmac.... but the scene is not without
Our photo (above) is taken looking west. The
bridge in the foreground carries Golden Hill/Bogshole Lane over the
dual carriageway. On the skyline, we see the Long Reach area with
a bridge supporting the main Whitstable-Canterbury road as it
clambers over the A299 and onto the apex of Clapham Hill. To the
right, you can see an access road cutting through Benacre
When the New Thanet Way was constructed to remove
traffic from the Coastal Road, we were told that there would be no
infill between the old and new roads. Well, that has proved to be true to some extent but there has been some nibbling away at our
countryside. The shot below shows the new housing development at
Golden Hill. These properties now skirt the northern brow of of
13-16: So where is the old rail track?
As explained earlier, the C&WR track no longer
exists on the northern side of the brook valley. However, there
are times of the year when its route can be spotted by curious
markings - such a slightly different soil colour after ploughing.
In the photo below, it appears to be marked by the yellow
band of flowers heading north across the field.
The line of the old track is a bit more obvious on the south side, where
a hump can be seen in the fields. The best way to spot this is by studying the
wood fencing alongside the New Thanet Way in the photo below.
Thus the old track is shadowing our cycle path
some 150-200 yards to the west. ... but as little more than hump.
But, that hump soon becomes the real thing. In the photo below, the
track (and its original embankment) reappears amongst that narrow
line of trees in the centre of the photo below.....
Amidst those trees, we have a feature that will be
familiar to most of our ex-pat Natives. It is, of course, the old
Red Bridge. Sadly, it is no longer possible to get close to it.. and,
even with a telephoto lens, it can barely be seen amidst the
undergrowth.... see below.
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