King's Wood

King's Wood - Dog-Friendly Walks

Under the new Countryside and Rights of Way Act, the Forestry Commission dedicated three woods in England to safeguard open access for all time. One of these three is King's Wood. Now a place for dog walking, biking, and forest art, this ancient 1500-acre forest in Challock was once a former royal hunting ground.

The woodland is home to a diverse range of wildlife. A large herd of fallow deer still run free in these woods, now safe from hunters. Alongside the deer live green woodpeckers, adders, and nighjars. Foxgloves and bluebells grow among the sweet chestnuts trees, as well as the beech, pines, and fir trees.

King's Wood - Dog-Friendly Walks King's Wood - Dog-Friendly Walks

There is a sculpture trail in King's Wood, commission by the Stour Valley Creative Partnership. Artists have made forest sculptures that engage with the growing cycles. The use of natural materials means the sculptures gradually change, transformed by the seasons. They become part of the forest's natural cycle of decay and regeneration.

We didn't follow the 3.5 mile sculpture trail but my path did cross it several times. As we explored King's Wood, we came across the remains of old sculptures that had been reclaimed by nature. Although the main paths are wide and clear, most trails aren't way marked and only one is accessible.

King's Wood - Dog-Friendly Walks King's Wood - Dog-Friendly Walks

King's Wood is so vast we barely saw any of it in the short few hours of our visit. I let the dog off his leash while I went mushroom spotting. We wove on and off the tracks, into the heavily littered floor of the forest. Crispy ferns and browned leaves crunching underfoot.

What struck me the most was the intensity of the forest. The trees looked and felt ancient, towering above us with their sombre presence. I can only imagine how glorious King's Wood looks in the height of summer, particularly when the bluebells are out. I'll certainly be revisiting to explore more of the historic woodland.

It's worth noting that while King's Wood is excellent for dog walking, there are no facilities on site or in the free car park. The nearest public toilets are at Taylors Hill, an 8 minute drive away. Signs are sparse in the forest, and we had to use the 'find my car' function of my partner's phone to steer us in the right direction. Be warned!

Photographs by Jack Spicer Adams

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King's Wood - Dog-Friendly Walks King's Wood - Dog-Friendly Walks