Over the Stile

For those backpackers who travel beyond London to venture into the idyllic countryside, the stile is a very familiar part of the scenery. A stile is fence or pathway that allows walkers to pass through an area while keeping the wildlife or sheep at bay. It seems so quintessential to the British experience however to hop over the stile and explore the rolling hills and brambles. For those in London, there are few within a train ride from either Heathrow airport parking or the London city center like the Hastings circular in East Sussex which runs just under ten kilometers of some of the most beautiful land around Hastings Castle.

Not far from London is the county of Kent where you can find a variety of ‘over the stile’ type walks including the Tunbridge Wells Circular and the Eden Valley Walk. The Kent government website has all the walks on their website along with the routes. The Greensand Way is some of the best farmland walking in the county and perhaps the country. It’s a beautiful long stretch of rolling hills and woodland mixed in with the beautifully cultured farmlands. It also takes you past quite a few villages that allow thirsty backpackers to enjoy a pint or two before heading on their way. It’s an easy ride from London to the start of one of the many circuit paths in Greensand Way.

There is also Pluckley Walk which takes you around the village of Pluckley which is incidentally considered to be the most haunted village in England, there’s a Guinness Book of Records mention to prove it. It’s a two hour walk so you might leave your pack at the hostel and bring water unless you plan on stopping for a pint of water… or beer at least once or twice along the way.

If you’re flying into Manchester, there are a variety of options that are an easy walk or at least an easy bus ride from the airport. Flying up from Kent, your best bet might be to fly from Stansted airport, where you can book Stansted airport parking. The Boundary Farm footpath in the Greater Manchester area is a stunning example of a typical over the stile walk that can include part of the Dunham Massey Estate. It is also close to another farmland walk from Little Heath Farm that is filled with hedgerows, birds and other typical farmland attractions that draws in walkers every year.