Sunday, 12 April 2009

Leigh to Tunbridge Wells – (Kent) – 12/04/09 – 11 miles – IVC

My assumption when they said on Sky News that the weather was going to be 17 degrees, was that it was going to be a hot sunny day. In the event it was very misty when we began the walk from Leigh station, and never really lifted until mid afternoon. No sooner however had we left the station then we found ourselves in-country, walking down a very impressive boulevard of trees. As such it looked like a manufactured golfing fairway, with one of our party commenting that all it really needed was a stately home to go with it. Well in the event we soon found one, as we happened across Penshurst Place which apparently dates back to 1341. Unfortunately this was a walk so we didn’t have time to explore that or the historic nearby church. Instead the morning was spent traversing the Upper Medway Valley, and periodically skirting the river Medway itself. Yet again though it does seem that (German) invasion imminent is the order of the day, as one field had no less than three pillarboxes (no doubt built as protection against the Bizmark floating into Kent).

Lunch was at The Spotted Dog which dates back to the 15th century, and certainly the windows would seem to bear that out. By this time the Sun wasn’t out, but it was becoming quite muggy. So although I don’t normally like sitting outside to eat it was fine on this occasion. Also fine as it goes was the double egg, ham, salad and chips. However as the cider was apparently 7% proof, I decided it was prudent to stick with Fosters. Unfortunately I couldn’t make my mind up whether to go with the chocolate fudge pudding or not (some recent pub efforts have been less than impressive in this regard, yet always seem to cost a fiver). So as it was one thirty, and we weren’t going again until two, I decided to see what another one of our party’s chocolate pudding looked like before ordering. In the event hers never turned up until ten to the hour. So although I started to salivate at the sight of it, I had run out of time to order one myself (and on Easter Sunday as well – Hmmph !).

After lunch we found ourselves following the River Medway again (then again it might have been the Eden). We also found ourselves in a field with a number of lambs that could only have been a few days old (their fleece’s was white as snow). We were somewhat concerned for one little one, who was just laying sideways, whilst its Mother stood over it. Even when we passed nearby it didn’t move. However when we looked back further along, it had clambered to its feet.

As the walk wore on, parts of some of the fields we went through were suprizingly muddy. What was also very demanding was a very narrow hedged lane with an extremely steep descent somewhere past the 8 mile point, which must have gone down for something approaching 800 metres (half a mile in old money), flattened out for a bit and then continued on again for about another 200. Well I like a climb as much as the next man, but this was one to be grateful that you were going down on and not the other way. By this time we weren’t far away from Tunbridge Wells itself, and having finally got there our party split into those who wanted the earlier train, and four of us who went for Coffee and a Hot X Bun (in some geezers type ale house).
Overall a very green walk (you can see why Kent is called the garden of England) on a misty muggy sort of day.

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