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New footpath adds to Kent walking charms

Posted 19 December 2012
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New footpath adds to Kent walking charms
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Kent may not be top of the list of places every outdoor adventurer will seek to go walking in. After all, there are no rugged crags, towering peaks or high moors.

At the same time, the 'garden of England' offers something different. With an extensive coastline, the county offers walks around shingle beaches like Dungeness, lofty vistas from the White Cliffs of Dover and a number of chances to enjoy riverside scenery and wildlife around the Thames and Medway estuaries.

The latter option will now be enshrined in law after a footpath at Halling Marsh close to the River Medway was added to the official map of public footpaths, much to the delight of campaign group the Open Spaces Society (OSS).

Although it is fairly short at 580 metres in length, the pathway across Halling Marsh completes the loop in a circular walk. However, access had been denied for a time by the Kent Wildfowling and Conservation Association (KWCA), which had bought up some of the land in question in 2004.

Despite the "conservation" part of the name, the KWCA actually used the land as a place for its members to shoot wildfowl, something that would for safety reasons preclude public access.

However, OSS member and local resident Maggie Coleman said the path had been "used by local residents, uninterrupted, for up to 60 years, as part of a circular walk around Halling Marsh by the River Medway".

As a result, many local residents approached Halling Parish Council to apply for the path to be given official map status, she noted.

"After years of research, local residents providing user evidence forms and a public inquiry that lasted three days, footpath RS320 will now be added to the official map," Ms Coleman noted, saying she and others were "delighted" their efforts had borne fruit.

People will find plenty more reasons to bring their walking boots with them on a visit to Kent. In years to come the English Coastal Path will provide a comprehensive seaside trek, while right now there are many inland routes that can be enjoyed.

Those who fancy a long distance trail, for instance, can try the 153-mile North Downs Way, which also covers part of Surrey and passes through the Medway estuary area, as well as the North Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty, Canterbury and Dover.