Paleolithic rock shelter.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013


The walk began this week at the car park on Church Road in Hucking. Most of the area is cared for by Woodland Trust who also own the car park. Crossing the road outside the car park entrance is a stile which leads onto a field of sheep and mushrooms to which we were to return at the end of the walk. Taking the path parallel to Church Road the path eventually rejoins the road at a point where the gate is padlocked. Showing remarkable agility for a group of such exalted ages we surmounted the problem of the gate to take a path which leads north through Long Wood. This is a pleasant path which continues for about a mile along the base of a hill before taking a ninety degree turn and coming out on Southlees Lane by Carn Hill Farm. Taking a left hand turn along the road we eventually reached an opening in the hedge into an orchard and some telegraph poles conveniently stacked to ensure a comfortable, early pit stop for lunch. Following the path until it reaches Hazel Street. It then leads off the road through Fourayes Farm. This is a productive orchard where the Bramleys were being picked. It claims to be the largest fruit processing plant in the UK covering 100 acres. It is a family run business employing more than a hundred local employees. The main path is obscured by the growth of the trees which were heavily laden. Skirting the edge of the orchard we came across a group of workers driving tractors moving large boxes of apples and being directed by Ian Witherden, the orchard manager. There was time for a chat with him about the future of the orchard. The field we were crossing is to be cut next year and it was almost as if the trees knew they were for the axe as they had produced as many apples as possible in order to gain a reprieve. It was also an opportunity for our senior member to reminisce about his early years when he would wander the fields and knew the then manager. Cutting through the storing and packing sheds the path leads downhill - unfortunately alongside a slurry drain which was producing some very unsavoury odours.

Leaving the orchard the path enters a wood before reaching a T junction. Taking the south fork the route comes out onto South Green Lane. At this point there is an abandoned orchard with a few plums still remaining as well as some eating apples. The path then enters the Gorham and Admiral Communtiy Woods owned by the Woodland Trust. After about a mile and before entering the Admiral section of the wood we took a right hand pathway to the base of what is affectionately called ‘heart attack hill’. Climbing the hill we enter another field of mushrooms and sheep. The sheep appeared even more unintelligent than usual and rather than scatter even came to meet us. They would have been disappointed if they had any expectations of food. Crossing Wheatsheaf Farm Road we entered the first field we had crossed where there were a wide range of mushrooms. Restricting ourselves to picking only button mushrooms a number of empty packed lunch boxes were refilled. Suitably laden we returned to the car park.

Six walkers took part in the walk which covered five miles

my photos not that good this week although those by JC are up to his usual high standard Also having problem up loading all of the this week for some unknown reason so sorry for the gaps in the walk Will try again later plus I need to enlarge them

Near Hucking at the start of the walk
Early Tea Stop , enough logs to keep our senior happy

They just want to be friends


 Lost Again ?, for once the answer is no 

Fungi by the side of the road 
Circle of mushrooms 

Wednesday, September 18, 2013


Adisham/Barham Downs

The final bulbous grey clouds of the overnight rain bundled their way past leaving growing gaps for the sun to strike through with optimistic glee as five of our intrepid group assembled for this week’s perambulation.  Using a section of the published North Downs Way National Trail, the as yet untried “Adisham/Barham Downs” walk was to be today’s target.
Having parked next to the church, the walk began with our good fellows entering “The Street”, a grand name for a few houses along a narrow country road.  They shortly turned right by the village hall which, at that moment, was throbbing to the sound of ghastly pop music for a “Step class” (aka keep fit class) and bouncing to the sound of bodies heaving, rocking and sweating within.
“Why take a short cut when there’s a long way round?”  A feature of this walk was that on several occasions the group found itself almost back in the same spot it had been 10 minutes earlier: a fact not escaping the attention of The Senior Member and therefore not unremarked upon.  Since the Member for Meopham was idling in France and not with the group, it could not be put down to bad map reading; the walks are designed like that!
The first leg provided splendid views of Woodlands Manor providing picturesque photo opportunities to be missed.  The sun now dominated over the clouds providing scintillating glimpse of field and meadow.  The temperature rose and The Senior Member declared “fleeces off”.. The route went on through lleden (how do you pronounce that?) Farm – a pleasant conurbation comprising converted barns and other old buildings now providing homes for the wealthier of our stock.  On the group went through “Walk Wood” (how apt) to eventually join the North Downs way and begin the search for a log to allow seating for luncheon.
At this point things went pear shaped – partly due to the lack of logs of any description and partly due to the vagueness of the walk instructions (and nothing to do with the map readers).  We could not find lleden Wood (how do you pronounce that?), an important landmark.  As if there had not been enough ‘long cuts’, the group found itself unable to find it and wandered hither and thither in search.  There were, however, splendid views for many miles.  A debate began about the identity of a large red blob on the distant horizon that concluded with the idea that it was either an oil tanker on the River Thames or Ayers Rock.  All agreed it was ridiculous to think we could see the Thames from that point so it must have been the latter.
The Map Reader General took charge and got the group back on course and also found a suitable place to sit, allowing each person to masticate in comfort, albeit on the ground.  The Senior Member lowered himself gingerly towards the ground with much grumbling and complaint. At the end of the repast, and following a bribe in the form of a mince pie, his aide hove to and, with the help of a block and tackle, heaved him back into a vertical stance to afford onward progress with the walk.
Off the group set towards Cooting Downs and then Woodlands Wood (alliteration?) heading back towards Adisham and the cars.  The last leg was pleasant but uneventful.

Generally, the walk not too damp despite heavy overnight rain and only slightly muddy in places.  6.3 miles walked and still smiling.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

Doddington Revisted

Return to Doddington

The group again gathered in the church car park at Doddington before setting off down Church Hill. We have traditionally kept to the north of the village but today, feeling fearless, we set off towards the south. On the side of the hill there is a tree with an unusual metal bracket growing from its trunk. There were various thoughts as to what it might have supported but after some discussion it remained a mystery. At the bottom of the hill we turned left along the Street. After a couple of hundred yards a path leads across a newly harvested corn field towards Seed. Energing from a small copse onto Hopes Hill we turned left eventually arriving at the hamlet of Seed where we turned right past Foxenden Manor before taking a footpath on the left. Following the path for about a mile we arrived at a Slade Road. The sun was trying to come out but unfortunately failed miserably. Keeping to the road for a further half mile we turned left at the T junction. Following the road for a couple of hundred yards we then took a bridleway on the right towards Birchwood. The bridleway joins Seed Road. Taking a path on the right we crossed several fields which involving ascending and descending a few minor ‘slopes’. The conversation must have been even more interesting than usual as never a moan was heard about the aforementioned ‘slopes’!
At the point where the path meets Lady Margaret Manor Road we took the decision to deviate from the planned route in order to seek out a log for lunch. Turning left instead of right we arrived at another hamlet, Greet, passing somewhere called Takarazuka on the way. Greet is very small only a couple of nice houses but there seemed to be some evidence of the ruins remaining from Lady Margaret Manor. In the fourteenth century the Manor was a stopping place for Canterbury Pilgrims. Little is known about the Manor between the intervening years until the twentieth century when a friend of Mahatma Gandhi, Dr Josiah Oldfield, bought the attached derelict oast house, Ellens Court. The only habitable remains of the Manor are Ellens Court.

The road carries on towards Warren Street turning into Payden Street. On the side of the road behind the hedge we spotted what we at first thought was a dead sheep laying in the hedgerow. We were wrong in our original assessment but the sheep was clearly near to expiring with only the slightest movement of its chest obvious. Unfortunately there was no-one around to report to. A few hundred yards further on we left the road to take a path through Oakenpole Woods. In the woods we found a picnic bench conveniently positioned for lunch. Finishing his lunch early the Welsh mountain goat set off on an expedition into the woods proudly returning with a tea pot! It was a shame that he hadn’t gone further into the woods as he might have found the path that we began looking for after lunch. Following what we thought was the right route we were soon off piste fighting through a jungle. We eventually reached the edge of the wood where we would have been if we had found the correct path. The path then heads north past Filmer Wood on the left and Kings Acre Wood on the right before reaching Lenham Road and returning to Doddington village. Opposite the end of Lenham Road we took the footpath up the hill across a cow field before arriving at the disused plum orchard. The plums were riper this week. Following the path towards Chequers Hill we came upon a box of windfall apples kindly left out for passing travellers. These quickly disappeared. Passing a new housing development we crossed Chequers Hill before taking the return path to the church car park.

Five of the group walked the 6.5mile route.

Alpha Dog in the lead

Its an horse waiting for the pantomime season when ALL actors can get work.

Look at him saying"you're wasting YOUR time,MY time and the CLASS'S time(and yes that is correct use of an apostrophe.

Wednesday, September 04, 2013


The group convened at Doddington Church car park with intention of enjoying a stroll in the last of the summer sunshine and taking the opportunity to pick a few plums. Heading north towards the M2 up Church Hill we passed a chocolate box cottage only slightly spoiled by the satellite dish tethered to the ground.  After about a half mile we reached Pond lane and Pinetrees farm. This is an old familiar route which hasn’t changed much since the last time the intrepid team undertook the walk.  At the farm there is a footpath to the left which leads for about a half mile to the church at Kingsdown, St Catherine’s. Details of this church are recorded in previous blogs  - it is still an attractive building. Taking a little time to look around inside, even though we had visited several times before, the magnificent ceiling above the chancel was still a revelation. Taking the drive from the church to Down Court Road we turned right towards Bluetown. At the junction a wild hop was in flower.  Normally a very quiet road we were at one point almost mowed down by two leviathan tractors towing straw bales. It is sometimes surprising that these tractors make it to their destinations when their height inevitably results in the highest bales being shredded by the high hedges. Just beyond Bluetown we took the footpath to the left opposite MIntching Wood through a nectarine orchard.  The nectarines had already been picked with only a few hard ones left. The assumption was that they had been were picked for storage and ripeningh before going to market.
At the end of the orchard the path should have led through the hedge but unfortunately the edge of the field has been layered and the fallen growth now blocks access. Turning right we eventually found a point at which we could get through to the field beyond – not an easy access for those with bad backs! Skirting the edge of the field and heading towards Hogshaw Wood we eventually found a suitable log for lunch – not to eat!  Already for the time of year the bracket fungi are prolific and the log had several sizeable examples. Following intense discussion it was decided that we would attempt a slightly different route to the usual one which takes us through Hollybushes and risk entering the wild wood. Entering the wood the path is quite clear but after a few hundred yards it is less so.  After some meanders we eventually surfaced from the wood to enter a field of sheep This necessitated crossing a barbed wire style which nearly ruined several of the parties manhood.
 Beyond the field lies Torry Hill Park which was the seat of Lord Kingsdown. The Barony of Kingsdown was a hereditary peerage given to Thomas Pemberton Leigh around 1858. Lord Kingsdown never married, and his title therefore became extinct on his death in 1867. The land however stayed in the family who later became known as the Leigh-Pembertons. The current Baron is Robert "Robin" Leigh-Pemberton who served as Governor of the Bank of England from 1983 to 1993. It was at this point that our senior member made a claim to fame of some connection or other with the current Baron’s daughter. The claim was very vague and not likely to be one that she would be happy to be publicised!
Entering the Park by a path to the west we headed towards Doddington. On reaching Sawpit Road we turned left for a few hundred yards until we reached a path on the right hand side which led across a field to a denehole. The spire of St Catherine’s was visible in the distance. We have seen the denehole before but each time we visit the protection around the outside seems to get stronger. This may have something to do with the depth of the hole. When lobbing stones down, it was several seconds before we could hear the satisfying plunk of stone hitting water. Deneholes were shafts dug to access chalk and it is believed originally got their name from the Danes. It is however difficult to believe that this one was originally so deep. From the denehole the path back to Doddington is straightforward passing by Little Higham and West End before we entered an abandoned plum orchard. The group were greatly disappointed to find that the plums were not yet ripe. It is a ‘mast year’ for acorns and other nuts but there is also an abundance of fruit as well so we plan to return next week to see if the plums have ripened. From the orchard the path crosses Chequers Hill before returning to the Doddington Church car park.

Five walkers completed the 5.5 mile walk in what turned out to be extremely hot and humid conditions.