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Wine and Port at Small Hythe

Discover a lovely wooded valley on this short walk.

Distance 3 miles (4.8km)

Minimum time 2hrs 30min

Ascent/gradient 82ft (25m)

Level of difficulty Easy

Paths Field edges, footpaths and some sections of road, 22 stiles

Landscape Fertile fields and pasture, one steep sided valley

Suggested map aqua3 OS Explorer 125 Romney Marsh, Rye & Winchelsea

Start/finish TR 892303

Dog friendliness Good, can often run free, though not near road

Parking Tenterden vineyard car park

Public toilets Vineyard visitor centre

1 From the vineyard car park, walk left towards the telephone box, and then turn right and walk between two gardens to cross a stile. Follow the hedgerow to the bottom of the field. Continue across the next field, cross a bridge and a stile. Walk across the bottom of the field keeping the hedgerow on your right, and then maintain direction crossing two more stiles to a yellow waymarker. The track now runs along the side of a hedge, through a metal gate and across the field to a stile. Continue in the same direction crossing another stile, and then walk up the side of a field. Go over two more stiles, then where the track splits, go straight ahead to go over another stile and a bridge. Climb the steps cut into the bank and walk around the edge of a pond, then follow the footpath ahead. Your route now takes you over a stile and a small bridge, across a field and up to a gate.

2 Continue through the gate, go straight ahead and, at another gate, take the steps over a bridge and up the side of a hill. Continue ahead at a crossing of tracks, and then cross two bridges before you come to a marker post. Go left along the side of a wood. Turn right at the next marker post, pop over a stile and walk diagonally across the field. Continue to cross a stile, then turn right past the gates at Belcot Farm. Walk past the farm and follow the track into the wood. Your way now leads past gardens on the outskirts of Tenterden.

3 At the road in the housing estate, cross over and walk ahead, pass a pond and then nip over a stile on your left. Follow the track over a bridge and across the field, following the line of the overhead cables. At a waymarker, go down some steps, across the stream, over the stile and carry on ahead through the field. Pass a small pond and head for the stile beside the electricity transformer. Cross the stile, turn right and continue to the main road. Turn left, walk past a house called Ormsby, and then turn left after the white timbered house and follow the footpath over a stile. Walk ahead through an old orchard, then turn right by a caravan and walk up the track, and over a stile to a fence by the bottom of the gardens. Turn left here and walk down the track, with young trees on either side, to cross a stile in the fence in front.

4 Walk diagonally towards a large tree, and then on, over two more stiles, before turning right along a road. Continue to a pond, cross a stile, go through the field, through a gate, over two more stiles and join the road. Go through a gate across the field, turn right at another gate and descend some steep steps on to the road - be careful here as there's no pavement. Follow the road downhill towards Small Hythe and your starting point. Small Hythe was once a busy port and a prosperous shipbuilding centre - hard to grasp today, as the coast is miles away.

This walk starts from Tenterden vineyard. The Romans first introduced vines to England and by Tudor times English winemaking reached a peak, when local vineyards were producing almost 3 million bottles each year. After the dissolution of the monasteries production declined, to the extent that English wine was looked upon as something of a joke. However, the industry was revived about

40 years ago and is flourishing today. This area of Kent is ideal for growing grapes as it has well drained south facing slopes and a warm, dry climate.

Tenterden is a busy town with a wide, tree-lined High Street. It became prosperous during the 15th century, thanks to the local wool industry. Weekly markets were held here when sheep would be driven down the High Street. At this time Tenterden was a maritime town, standing at the head of an inlet. It was considered important enough to be made an associate of the Cinque Ports (a town which received special privileges, in return for providing men and ships to form part of the country's defensive force).

While you're there

From Tenterden you can take a trip on the Kent and East Sussex Railway - a steam railway that runs between Tenterden and Northiam in East Sussex. It's a good way of seeing the lovely, lush countryside of two counties.

What to look for

Smallhythe Place, opposite Tenterden vineyard, is one of those photogenic places featured in many brochures. This 16th-century timber-framed house once belonged to the harbour master and part of the grounds formed the ship repair dock. Today most people know the house for its associations with the actress Ellen Terry (1848-1928). Ellen first appeared on the stage at the age of eight and by the late 19th-century was regarded as London's leading Shakespearean actress. She lived at Smallhythe Place from 1899 to 1928 and the house, now administered by the National Trust, has displays of memorabilia.

Where to eat and drink

Tenterden vineyard has a good café and restaurant that serves traditional sponge cakes, scones and light meals. In summer you can sit outside and enjoy the views. You can of course buy wine in the shop and there are free tastings.


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