Walk 2104 - printer friendly version
Blue Bell Hill to Kit's Coty House Walk
Author - Mick Gall
Length - 8.8 miles / 14.2 km
Ascent - 600 feet / 182 metres
Grade - easy/mod
Start - OS grid reference TQ743622
Lat 51.33218 + Long 0.5006026
Postcode ME5 9RG (approx. location only)
This circular walk starts at the picnic area on the top of Blue Bell Hill and takes in the sites of a Roman Villa, an Ancient Battle, Megalithic Long Barrows, Sacred Springs and a Sacred Grove. The area covered is a part of the North Downs that is squeezed between Maidstone to the South and The Medway Towns to the North in the Medway Gap.
The start of this walk is the Blue Bell Hill picnic area (grid ref. TQ743622) from where there are some impressive views over the Weald of Kent. After parking follow the path down the hill. This is steep and care needs to be taken in wet weather as it can be quite muddy. On your right as you descend the path there is a disused chalk quarry that is not visible from the car park and an impressive chalk cliff looms up behind you. Follow the footpath until it comes to a road (grid ref. TQ733612), cross over and take the road sign posted to the village of Eccles.
Walk through the village and just after the Walnut Tree pub a footpath branches off to the right (grid ref. TQ727604). Take this path and follow it until it reaches a junction with another path (grid ref. TQ726602). Turn right. After approx. 500m the site of a Roman Villa is reached. There are no ruins to be seen as such, just a large triangular patch of scrubby grass in a cultivated field next to the path. A quick walk over the ploughed field revealed pieces of pottery and tiles but whether they were Roman is another thing. The fields around here are also believed to be a possible site for the Battle of Aylesford in 455AD between the Romano-Britons, led by Vortigern and his sons, and the Saxon invaders led by Hengist and Horsa. The fields here also have several skylarks who sing to you as you walk around.
Walk back along the path, continuing straight ahead at the junction of footpaths to arrive at a road (grid ref. TQ727601). Turn right onto the road and follow it for approx 300m until you come to another footpath on the left (grid ref. TQ727600). Do take care on this road as it can be quite busy. Follow this footpath until the junction with another path (grid ref. TQ731599). Turn left. After 200m a footpath appears on the left. Ignore this and continue to the next junction (grid ref. TQ 732 601). Turn right. Follow this path until you come to a path on the right at grid ref. TQ737605. Here you can bear right or go straight on for 100m and just before the pylons can be found the Coffin Stone. This is a group of Sarsen stones that once formed part of a Neolithic burial chamber.
Return to junction of the path and continue to Great Tottington Farm (grid ref. TQ739604) marked on the map as moat and was once a small community with a Manor, Moat and Chapel. Here is found a Sacred Spring or the Holy Well of St Stephens chapel. There are five springs in total and the principle spring was once surrounded by standing Sarsen stones and is believed to be a site of ancient water worship. The stones are no longer standing and most have gone but some have been scattered around the springs and the stream that was fed by them. Follow the path until you come to the road (grid ref. TQ741601). There is a small bridge to cross over the stream along this section of path. It leans slightly to right and can be very slippery when wet. There is also a very rickety stile that needs to be crossed as well.
Once at the road turn left and walk 100m to the entrance of Great Tottington farm and you will find a large Sarsen stone. It is an ancient stone but has been erected at its site by the present owners. Walk back to the footpath and cross the road to another footpath directly opposite. Again extreme care needs to be taken on this road as it is another busy road. Follow the path across the field, which is not very well defined but in the distance you can see some cottages which you head for. In fact the path goes through the garden of one of the cottages at grid ref. TQ743599. The owner of the cottage has provided a boot scraper and requests you scrape your boots before you walk along their drive.
The path goes onto a small road and zig- zags slightly to the left. The path goes across another field to the Great Crossington (grid ref. TQ747596). This too was an ancient site of a spring and Sarsen stones but all trace of them have now been lost. There is a cross roads of footpaths here. Turn left and follow the path up to the subway under the A229. Note there are three quite rickety stiles that have to been crossed on this stretch of path. Go through the subway and the path goes to the right then left, keep the camper van show room on your right and after a few metres you will see a bridge over the Channel Tunnel High Speed line, cross the bridge and after approx 100m you arrive at the White Horse Stone. This is the remains of a Chambered tomb and is said to resemble a horse. Evidence has been found that there was once a bronze-age settlement here. It is now being planted up to make it into a grove.
Return back over the bridge and underpass and follow the path in front, the North Downs Way, to the road junction (grid ref. TQ745605). Turn left here and follow the road to Little Kits Coty House, this site is also called the Countless Stones (gid ref. TQ744603). It consists of a jumble of Sarsen stones that were once a Neolithic long barrow tomb. They are called the Countless Stones because if two people count the stones they will arrive at different numbers, or so it is said.
Go back to the to the road and turn right, follow the road back to the junction and follow the footpath sign marked North Downs Way in front of you. The path climbs quite steeply and after approx 200m you will arrive at Kit's Coty House (grid ref. TQ745609). This is the remains of another Chambered long barrow and consists of two standing stones with a cap stone. Local legend says that if you come here on a moonlit night, place a personal object on the capstone and walk around the stones 3 times widdershins (anti-clock wise) the object will have disappeared. It is also reputed to be the burial place of Catigern, son of Vortigern, killed at the battle of Aylesford.
Return to the junction, turn right and walk back to the footpath at TQ733612. Turn right and follow back to the car park at the top of Blue Bell Hill. At grid ref. TQ743622 you can continue along the path or take the steps back up, but they are steep and stop before you get to the top and the slope is very steep.