Kent Ramblers

Walk 76

Walk 76: Grove Ferry and Preston

Distance: 11 miles (5 Hours) circular or 9 miles using shortcut indicated

OS Map: Explorer 150 (Start at grid reference TR236631)

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The first part of the walk follows the Saxon Shore Way. Starting at the Grove Ferry car park (A) climb the embankment to the river Stour and turn right. Drop down as you approach the wind turbine and boatyard at Red Bridge, skirt the side of the field and turn left through a gate. Cross the entrance to The Boat House and turn left. Bear right to a derelict barn, then swing left and continue alongside a hedge to a turf bridge; turn R and follow track (bearing left) to a marker post; turn left for 100 yards by the Little Stour.

Here the route should cross a bridge but at the time of writing (August 2014) the bridge is closed (please let us know if you find that the bridge is open again). Instead pass closed bridge and continue to the pumping station. Cross the bridge and turn immediately left along the riverbank (not waymarked).

At Plucks Gutter (B) go under a bridge and cross a foot-bridge over a small dyke. Continue by the river past another pumping station for 650 yards. Look for a post with a way mark showing a footpath to the right through a gap in the hedge passing a gate marked "Private" on the left. Walk 440 yards alongside a drainage channel, to reach the third line of trees on the left. Follow a track round the edge of a field to the R of the trees then bear right onto a main track (Westmarsh Drove), which after 650 yards comes to the corner of a road in Westmarsh. Take a path to the right marked Stour Valley Walk along right hand edge of orchard.

At the end of the orchard go through a small gate to the left of a double farm gate, across the field to a footbridge into another orchard. Cross and turn R for a short distance until you see a gap in the pattern of the trees and then turn left through fruit trees. When you reach a ditch on the far side of the field, turn left until you reach a main track. Leaving the Stour Valley Walk, turn left for 220 yards along concrete track. At corner go straight ahead along grassy track, eventually bearing right through Santon Farm then left along the farm's exit road. After 110 yards when it bends right there are two footpaths crossing a field; take the right hand path. According to the map the path goes diagonally across the field, however the field is now planted as an orchard, and the path is impossible to find. So head anticlockwise round the orchard to the middle of the far side and take path through hedge on right across field to lane.

Cross lane (Park Rd), continue on the footpath to the corner of the field. At the road take the footpath to the right, to bring you to Preston village for a welcome break, either at the Nursery Café which only serves drinks and cakes (but not sandwiches) or the Half Moon & Seven Stars Inn. (5.5 miles)

From the footpath beside the nursery turn left down the main road for 220 yards. Take the footpath on the right, just before the village shop and at the end of the field turn left. When you reach a road you have a choice:

Shorten the walk by turning right along lane and then a track until you reach the river, then turn right along bank to the Blue Bridge.


Turn right then turn L along Park Lane. At the road continue to a junction and turn right towards the church. Go through the church yard to a gate behind the church. Pause to admire the unexpected collection of old steam engines, before you cross a stile opposite and take a footpath across a field.

After 500 yds and 5 more stiles go through a small wood which has excellent bluebells in the spring. When the footpath meets a crossroad, take the marked track opposite. Follow this footpath for 380 yds to the corner of the field and into a wood. Take the right hand footpath downhill, then turn right to follow the river (Little Stour) northwards for 1.7 miles to a road at Blue Bridge (Grove Rd). Cross the road and bridge to the opposite river bank. Follow a permissive path along the river bank track for 980 yds; then take a track to the left, retracing your starting route back to Red Bridge and Grove Ferry car park.

This walk was originally published on a calendar produced by White Cliffs Group.  Thanks to David Jones for originally devising this route (later updated) and Andrew Boultbee for the idea.

Points of Interest

A Grove Ferry has a good car park with a small charge, toilets, picnic site and inn.

Until 1960 the river was crossed here by a passenger-operated ferry. The picnic site is where Canterbury lavender was grown. The surrounding marshlands were once under the waters of the Wantsum Channel.

B At Plucks Gutter the Great Stour meets the Little Stour

The old pub at Westmarsh has been turned into the Rose Garden Tea Rooms, open 11 am to 5 pm on Saturdays and Sundays from May to October.  (The web site may not display correctly in older version of Internet Explorer including version 7.)

Saxon Shore Way

Read more about this 153-mile walk from Gravesend to Hastings here.

Stour Valley Walk

Read more about this 52 mile walk from Lenham to Pegwell Bay here.

Our book of Ten Favourite Walks in the Kent Countryside has routes for ten more walks like this one.

Ramblers' volunteers in Kent work tirelessly to ensure that our paths are as well protected and maintained as possible.  Of course we also organise led walks but most of our members are independent walkers who simply want to support our footpath work.  Please join us and become a supporter too.  You need us and we really need you.

If you find that the directions and map for this walk are incorrect in any way, please report the problem to

Map based on Ordnance Survey mapping released into the public domain under the OpenData agreement.

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