Canterbury to Faversham

Map of proposed route
The proposed route (red/white dashed) from Canterbury (lower right) to Faversham (mid left).
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Route

The proposed route branches off NCR 1 just north of Canterbury, runs through Church Wood, and then alongside Blean Wood to Boughton, across the A299 and rejoins NCR 1 near Faversham. The route falls naturally into three sections:

The overall length is about 14 km.

Rationale

Maps

History

Funding, sponsors and supporters

At present, there are no sponsors for this cycle route.

What the CCC Walking and Cycling Strategy document (2003) said

Canterbury to Faversham - Plan Reference No 29

This would provide a safe and attractive route for cyclists from Rough Common Road to Faversham. The route would commence at Rough Common Road although a link to the NCR1, via the University,could be achieved if improvements were made to the junction of Whitstable Road and Rough Common Road.

The existing Public Footpath CB497 could be used through to Church Wood and then a private track links this to Public Footpath CB7. This footpath extends right through to the district boundary with Swale.

The route could then be extended onto Denstroude Lane and into Faversham.

From section 8.5.6 of the Canterbury Walking and Cycling Strategy (2003)

Present state of the route

Proposed Faversham Cycleway

The proposed route through Church Wood/Grimshill Wood is a much used link between Rough Common and Boughton, and improvements to the surface and signing will be welcome.

From NCR1 (Canterbury) to Rough Common

There are some difficulties about the connection via Lovell Road with NCR1 along Neals Place Road. The path would need widening (removing and perhaps re-planting a hedge) as would the bridge (See photos 3447, 3448, 3449, 3450, 3452 and 3453) and there may be opposition from Kent College to the use of the footpath behind staff houses (See photo 3454). There are also concerns on Harbledown and Rough Common Parish Council about the use of this route (even in its present state) by motorcyclists (from Cherry Garden/Hillside Ave and London Road Estate) to gain access to Church Wood – illegally, and frequently, so measures to prevent access by motorcycles would be important. Motorcycle use may be reduced if the path were in more constant use by cyclists.

An alternative could be to use Rough Common Road, with appropriate warning signs for motorists, to join NCR1 at Keirs Lane (opposite the entrance to Kent College). The stretch of footway beside the A290 between the roundabout at the end of Rough Common Road and Keirs Lane is already used (illegally) by many cyclists who wish to travel to Rough Common rather than Canterbury from the University. Another possibility is to take the route through Oaks Park and across the A290 at Blean School where there are two footpaths leading too NCR1. That to the south of the school is constrained by fences and would be difficult to widen, but on the north of the school the path, though poorly surfaced, has more potential. A safe crossing point and speed reduction for traffic on the A290 would be welcomed by parents at the school. It would also provide more direct access to Blean school by bicycle for children from Rough Common, which would perhaps attract ‘safe routes to schools’ funding.

From Rough Common to Boughton

A sign is needed at the entrance to Church Wood (photo 3430), and on the gate by the RSPB car park (photo 3431). The route is wide and mostly well-surfaced, though there are some muddy patches, and a seriously wet area at the exit by Denstroude Farm (photos 3441, 3443, 3445). The Denstroude Farm end of the path needs an all weather surface and a sign to indicate which of the tracks is the cycle path (on both sides of the gate in photo 3441). Between Denstroude and Rough Common there are a few places where signs would be helpful as paths branch off the track: photo 3433, the fork where the ‘public footpath’ leads to the A2, needs a sign to direct cyclists to the right, and one in the opposite direction too. Close to (just east of) the junction with the Radfall Road there is a large track towards Blean which is used by mountain bikers (illegally at present – though in future it may be considered a cycle access route to Blean village) and forestry vehicles (photo 3434). This needs a no cycling sign and a cycle route sign on the main track (in both directions). At the junction with the Radfall Road (photo 3435) an interpretation board would be a valuable way of informing passers-by about the history of woodland use and about the banked trackway heading towards Blean and the Radfall at Tyler Hill. There is a junction with the bridleway from Bossenden Farm (photo 3440) where it would be helpful to have signs in both directions. Though it is legal to cycle on bridleways this one doesn’t connect with any other routes where cycling is permitted.

The continuation of the route to Boughton is on relatively quiet roads with relatively gentle gradients and fabulous views. The only problem is that occasionally the tarmac splits wide enough to swallow a cycle wheel, but this should be dealt with by highways anyway! Warning signs for motorists on even the quietest roads are necessary as they can become busy at certain times (e.g. festivals at Mount Ephraim).

From Boughton to NCR1 at Culmers

From Boughton to Staplestreet and Goodnestone the road is quite narrow and steep between Staplestreet and the crossing of the A299. North of this is flatter. Throughout it needs warnings to motorists that they should expect to encounter cyclists, and clear signs for cyclists at every junction.

The alternative route through Victory Wood would (as we understand) be surfaced to suit mountain bikes only, and this should be made clear. For example in Mountain biking territory on Forestry Commission land in Wales (and probably Bedgebury?) there are signs showing bikes with knobbly tyres. One of the problems ‘ordinary cyclists’ have with cycle routes is the lack of distinction between those suitable for ordinary road bikes and the rougher tracks suited to mountain bikes.

From a report by Spokes members Beatrice Shire and Gregory Williams in 2008.

Status

This route is not presently under active consideration. It is not listed as a priority in CCC 2003 Walking and Cycling Strategy document.

Next move

Spokes is starting active campaigning for this route.

Latest news

The Spokes blog will carry any news for this route.