Recently I’ve been making more of an effort to explore my home county. I’ve lived in Kent my whole life apart from the couple of years I was in Southampton for University, but I’m ashamed to say that there are a lot of places on my doorstep I haven’t explored yet.
In the last year or so I’ve discovered many beautiful woodlands in the area, including Perry Woods, Bedgebury Forest, Blean Woods and most recently Hucking Estate, which embarrassingly is a 15 minute drive from my house. It’s safe to say I’ve learnt my lesson and I can no longer moan that there are no nice places around here.
Finding new places to walk has become a bit of new obsession and at the moment I’m loathed to visit the same place twice, unless distance, time or other constraints narrow my options. A couple of weeks ago, when the first hints of spring were starting to emerge, I decided to take my partner and my dog for a Kentish adventure to explore somewhere new close to home.
I’d been on the Explore Kent website a couple of times browsing some walks and had spotted a few that I’d already completed. I then saw the ‘A Walk On The Wild Side’ route, which is a 12km gentle walk around Oare Marshes. This is a place that I’ve often thought I should check out, having been in the area a couple of times running errands, but never having really left the car. I also thought that I should probably have a break from hiking in woodlands for a change, even if it is among the trees that I most love to be.
I downloaded and printed a map of the route from the Explore Kent website, put the dog in the car, put a flask in my rucksack and drove towards Faversham. We parked in the town and made our way to the market place to begin our walk, following the route on the map through the town and stopping off at a well-placed Morrison’s en-route to stock up on some hiking snacks.
The walk takes you from the town past the cute coloured houses of Faversham and into Oare, past a large duck pond and allotments. When we reached the Marina it felt like our Oare adventure had begun and we walked along the grassy banks admiring the big open sky and marshlands ahead, saying hello to some other friendly walkers and making friends with their dogs.
The walk gives you super views across the water to the Isle of Sheppey and gives you a new perspective of its position along the South East coast of mainland Kent.
A little while in, you cross a sort of bridge like structure to extend your walk out along the edge of the water with the Island on your right. There are opportunities to spot an array of birds and farm animals including some lovely highland cattle. Eventually you come to a car park which was quite busy with families and dog walkers who were beginning or ending trips around the marshes, but you continue onwards before eventually turning inwards and walking along farmland, going through gates and saying hello to sheep. You pass some buildings and cross a road continuing on across pastures and over a small bridge.
At this point we met a lovely older couple, with whom we chatted with for a while. They had come from the other direction and informed us of a giant almost knee high puddle on our route and recommended that we take a short cut down a quiet lane. It wasn’t difficult to find our route again, crossing a huge open crop field which felt impressively large and open before we arrived promptly back among the houses, to complete our circular walk back into Oare and retrace our steps back into Faversham town.
The perfect ending would be to stop off in one of Faversham’s many excellent pubs before heading home with pleasantly aching feet. However, we’d indulged in a few too many trail snacks so decided to head home and have a drink and dinner a little later to round off the weekend nicely.
The trail was very easy to follow with small trail markers placed at intervals along the way but it’s nice to take a map to help you get a sense of where you are. It took us around 4 hours with plenty of stops chatting to other walkers and petting dogs but was very gentle and relaxing. Long enough to leave you feeling accomplished, without taking up an entire day – and giving you plenty of time in the pub!