Posts in Category: Fifty Walks

Joust a Stroll Around Offham

The weather was grim when we visited Offham, which probably goes someway to explaining why it has taken me four months to actually post the photos from this walk. It was wet, gloomy and cold. The walk was unspectacular in so many ways but I resolved to blog the whole book so here goes…

The walk itself is fairly flat and at 4.5 miles isn’t the longest. There are *some* nice bits, though they are few and far between. Be warned, the book is not very clear about the beginning, which probably explains why we walked at least half a mile in the wrong direction.

We also managed to get lost near the end. So, there we are. Not the nicest of walks, but that’s life.

History and Mystery at Ightham Mote

I must confess to not knowing a great deal about Ightham Mote before doing this walk. I still know very little about it at the time of writing this blog entry, suffice to say it is now a National trust property dating from 1320 with important later additions and alterations. It is a rare example of a moated medieval manor house. An exhibition depicts the largest conservation project undertaken by the Trust, which was completed in 2004. As far as this walk is concerned, Ightham Mote is only a very a small part of the route – of course one can deviate and have a proper look, but that sort of activity is out of scope for this project.

This is a middle distance walk at 3.5 miles, and is fairly flat for the most part. The few uphill climbs are not too much of a challenge for anyone of moderate fitness. Alas, I am not in that category. It is a circular walk and starts and ends in Shipbourne, which seems a nice little place.

Once past the church, the route heads out into proper Kentish countryside through rolling fields and past the odd Oast House. This is probably one of the quieter walks until the route snakes back across a main road. Much of the route follows various bits of the Green Sand Way – as do many of the other walks in this project.

As I mentioned at the start, this walk skirts past Ightham Mote, so here is the obligatory shot of it. According to the National Trust website…

Ightham Mote has many special features, including a Great Hall, crypt, Tudor chapel with a hand-painted ceiling and the apartments of the American donor Charles Henry Robinson. An enchanting feature is the Grade I-listed dog kennel, situated in the picturesque courtyard. Ightham Mote also offers lovely gardens and water features, with lakeside and woodland walks.

I have never seen a Grade I-listed dog kennel before and had I known about this beforehand, may well have decided to take a peek. Possibly.

Every walk needs a sheep shot or two.

Some sort of Pheasant I believe – I am not joking when I say that in this field there must have been forty of the little beauties. I have never seen more than one at a time before.

All in all, a nice walk. We saw some history as the title suggests but no mystery, other than the group of flies that seemed to follow us round. We had both showered before the walk so I can only assume that the Lynx Effect also works on insects.

Across Romney Marshes

It has been a long and lazy winter, so the 50 Walks Project has somewhat taken a back seat to TV, the web and general inactivity. However, the time felt right to venture out again and we chose the Ivychurch walk called ‘Across Romney Marshes’ or number 15 in the book 🙂

I have never really spent much time on the Romney Marshes and this walk has done nothing to change my enthusiasm for the place. This is by far the most flat of the walks, which is to be expected as there isn’t even a hint of a hill anywhere on the Marsh, but this also makes the scenery quite bland. Very bland in fact.

Unfortunately the route instructions are not all that accurate either and we guessed at some points which direction to take. The Marsh is also covered in rubbish. Shame, but there you go.

This walk hasn’t put us off though, and we are hopeful that there will still be many more enjoyable routes still to discover. I wouldn’t rush to try this one again. Ivychurch itself is really nice – a pretty little village with a nice church.

Storming Round Toy’s Hill

Once again this walk took us to a place we have have never heard of. It lies to the south of Brasted Chart, near Sevenoaks. The National Trust property of 200 acres (81 ha) nearby is a Site of Special Scientific Interest. It contains the highest point on the Greensand ridge to the north of the Weald. This is as far west in Kent as you can go, pretty much, so we have now done the most easterly and westerly of the walks listed. The name suggested that this walk might be quite hilly and this has been confirmed by my aching calf muscles.

The walk starts in the National trust car park and loops out around Ide Hill and back, with many a hill in between. The walk itself is only listed at 3.5 miles, but we went badly wrong at one point so I suspect it was closer to 4.5 miles by the end.

Being the highest point in Kent does make some stunning views, though this walk probably does not make the most of them. There are some good vantage points but not as many as we had hoped for.

Not the best walk so far, but not the worst. Doing a project like this I suppose you have to take the rough with the smooth and I am sure that there will be plenty more interesting locations to explore.

Across the White Cliffs

Some weeks have passed since our last walk; basically life has gotten in the way. Amazingly for a Bank Holiday weekend, the weather started nicely, so we gave my parents a call and decided to try Walk 1: Across the White Cliffs, which basically runs from Dover to St. Margaret’s and back along the Saxon Shore Way, traversing the famous White Cliffs.

I must have misread the AA book as I was convinced this was an easy walk of 4 miles, but in fact it is 5.5 miles with a difficulty rating of 2 (of 3) and proved to be quite hilly. There are alternative paths that are away from the cliff edge and are less prone to peaks and troughs – this was vital on the way back as I hit the proverbial wall and nearly had a snooze to regain both energy and enthusiasm.

The walk starts at the National Trust car park at the start of Langdon Cliffs, which has a great view of Dover docks.

The cliffs were even visible in France as the weather was so nice.

The Coast Guard Station is interesting. From an architectural point of view it doesn’t exactly fit in with rolling fields and chalk cliffs, but I don’t mind the occasional futuristic building.

It is possible to go right to the cliff edge, if you so desire. Personally that sort of thing freaks me out…

… though some people are clearly insane.

The half way point is St.Margaret’s, but just before you reach the village the walk takes you past South Foreland Lighthouse. The National Trust has the following to say about it:

A striking landmark on the White Cliffs of Dover, this beautiful and historic building was the first to have an electrically powered signal and was used in experiments by Faraday and Marconi. Today, visitors can climb to the top of the lighthouse and enjoy views across east Kent and the Channel.

The National Trust continues to graze the chalk downland along the cliff top using Exmoor Ponies. In other areas, where grazing is not possible, a hay cut is taken for the benefit of the chalk downland. It was nice to see some, even if they were right at the end of the walk!

Another great walk all in all. The scenery is stunning (on a good day) and the area is well worth a visit even if you are not doing the full walk. It is a great location just to see how busy the English Channel is. Go, enjoy and look at boats.


Roman Round Eynsford

To be honest, I had not heard of Eynsford before starting this project, however, this walk follows a route that takes you past Eagle Heights and I have wanted to go there for a while now, so it is handy that I now know the way. Eysnford is another example of a pretty little place that would have remained alien to me if it had been for this project. Anyway, this walk starts in the village and heads out across the ford (hence the name of the place) and circles out around Lullingstone Park golf course and Beechen Wood. There are a few uphill bits and at 5 miles, it was more than enough after a two week break from walking.

The viaduct below features quite heavily in the walk as you climb up and walk over the railway line it carries, then on the way back you pass under it. It contains a lot of bricks.

I don’t recall ever seeing a Heron in the wild before, so that was quite a pleasing experience. It was even better to see it lurking near a Trout Farm. Birds really are not stupid.

This was possibly my favourite walk so far – I wonder how many times I shall write that? Go. Enjoy. Buy some sweets in the sweet shop and paddle in the river. If the weather had been nicer I would have done. Honest.

Gardener’s Delight in Sissinghurst

Despite being called ‘Gardener’s Delight in Sissinghurst’, this walk actually starts and ends in Frittenden and only briefly calls at Sissinghurst Castle. This is the longest of the walks so far at five miles, but it was a flat walk for the most part, with only a slight incline up to the castle. It was a glorious day though and my sunburnt neck bears testament to that. This walk is heavy on the stiles – and some were very high… not ideal for the short-legged walker.

Some of the nosiest cows ever can be found just outside Frittenden. They just wanted to follow us all the way. Cute.

As I mentioned this was the most uphill part – not horrendous but in the heat was quite draining.

Frittenden has the cutest village shop, but be warned, it shuts between 12.30pm and 2pm. No ice cream for us today.

In summary: another great walk. Five miles is a nice distance to wander and the location is very nice. One for the cow lovers amongst you.

Bowled Over in Sutton Valence

We are either getting less fit or more tired as this walk seemed like six miles, yet it was only four. This is potentially a worrying fact but, perhaps, I ought not to dwell on it. Sutton Valence is only a few miles down the road from home which is good as I couldn’t face an hour long drive afterwards. As it happens this was probably my favourite walk so far – it has nice varied scenery and is a proper circular walk with no repeated sections. Not many words in this post – just photos… they are easier to do.

It is always nice to see Lambs having lunch, and most pleasing to actually capture it. Bless that little milk drinker.

The next photo is of a memorial to John Willes who was an English cricketer who, though he made only five known first-class appearances, had a significant impact on the game’s history and development. Willes played for Kent county cricket teams and was a fast underarm or, when he could get away with it, roundarm bowler.

Not a great deal else to say on this one – an enjoyable walk – so go do it!

In the Footsteps of Charing’s Pilgrims

I drive through Charing quite a bit as I tend to favour the A20 over the M20 – it is slower but less busy and more pretty than motorway driving – but I must confess to not paying much (if any) attention to Charing. This was an error. I can see how it happens though. Without a reason to stop in places, I tend to ignore them and, until recently, have had no real desire to find out anything about them. I have to say that Charing seems a charming little place, well worth turning off the A20 for.

This walk was mainly chosen for the the closeness to home and the length/difficulty, as this was the first time I didn’t really feel like leaving the house and trekking around Kent. Of course, I am glad I did in the end as it was another glorious day. Incidentally this walk is 3 miles.

There appears to be a cemetery for children in Charing – not that I have confirmed this, but there are some of the most elaborate (and moving) headstones on view. Rest in Peace Tina and Kenny.

The walk leaves the village and heads across country up to the Pilgrim’s Way. Trust me, this next hill was worse in reality than it looks as the sun was beating down and we took it a little bit quicker than we ought to have done.

The next shot is a panormaic comprised of 23 shots, which is somewhat excessive but the green field was lush and I really just wanted to see how well a large multi-shot hand held panorama would work. It stitched perfectly. As it happens, we realised we had gone wrong on the walk and re-traced our route, so we ended up going past this field again. If you do this walk take note – the bit about the single Beech Tree is confusing! I am ultimately responsible for the error, but the book really could have been more clearly written.

Apparently, as a child, I couldn’t even be driven past a field of Rapeseed without wheezing like mad. It appears that this issue has not followed me into adulthood, which is nice.

In conclusion – another enjoyable walk. Apart from the initial hilly bit that nearly killed us, it realy is very easy after that with some nice views available, It is worth it for that alone, but Charing itself is well worth a wander around. This is turning into a fun project.

A Taste of Sandwich

This walk starts in the centre of Sandwich by the Quay and heads East along the old town wall for a short distance and then cuts up through the town. It is one of two walks that focus on Sandwich – this being the shorter of the two at 3 miles. As I write this blog article I regret having attempted both of these walks on the same day – the blister on my left foot is looking decidedly balloon-like and I am unable to stand properly. Still, no pain, no gain I guess.

The weather stayed fine and sunny, albeit with some clouds, all day and both walks are worth doing… though we did get lost… more on that later.

The town itself has some oddities – well worth visiting just for a nice wander around a quaint town.

This telephone is in full working order, though I would suggest only using it in an emergency as the smell inside left me feeling quite ill. It was also at this point that the blister on my left foot started getting quite painful…

It is always nice to see some big lenses and big cameras about, but I always wonder what the images actually look like.

The walk eventually heads out of town towards Richborough Fort. There are no photos of this as we got lost and ended up walking around a huge field and ending up on the wrong side of the Fort. However, it looked like a ruined old wall and they don’t do a great deal for me. The guide book suggests heading towards the third telegraph pole, but fails to say from which side of the field and there really wasn’t a very well trodden path. Good luck if you attempt this walk.

After walking under the main road the walk then crosses over the railway. With a recent story of a schoolboy being killed ringing in my ears I did feel slightly apprehensive crossing this, since the visibility is not great, as shown below.

My apprehension was justified however, as thirty seconds after crossing the track screeched with noise and a train flew past.

As walks go, this one was quite boring. The other Sandwich walk was more enjoyable though that may be because I was in agony by the end of this one. No doubt the fitter amongst you will easily do both in a day and enjoy them, so don’t let my whining put you off.