Saturday was cold, but relatively dry. Miserable enough to persuade me
to go shopping in Bromley.
I got some winter outdoor trousers for the walk on Sunday.
We started out around 10am on Sunday to make the most of the daylight.
We thought we would try walking from Knole House in Sevenoaks to Ightham
Mote and back.
Knole House is set in 1000 acres (approx 250 hectares) of deer park and
yes there is a large herd of mainly fallow deer. The house itself has
365 rooms and 52 staircases.
The whole area was once heavily wooded, but the hurricane of 1987
destroyed around 1 million trees in Sevenoaks alone.
Still, there are a good number of ancient oaks, beech and other parkland
trees remaining on the estate.
The wind was low, but very cold when we started walking, but we soon got
into woodland cover. There we were quite sheltered and the temperature
seemed quite mild and damp.
Much of the walk was along the Greensand Ridge, giving great views
through the woodland breaks.
The going was heavy though. It takes much longer to cover the same
distance in winter.
The trees have been shedding their leaves for a couple of weeks now and
the colours have intensified in the process.
We passed a few isolated cottages on the way and then spotted Shipbourne
Church as we climbed over a ridge into a woodland clearing.
The path got very muddy and slippery, with us climbing and sliding down
the whole time.
After another 2 miles we reached Ightham, passing the brick-built
outdoor privy and the old farmyard. As we reached the lane we were
passed by two ladies walking with long poles and wearing headscarves,
looking like Japanese pilgrims.
Ightham Mote is one of the loveliest manor houses in Britain. First
lived in around 1340AD, it is supposed to be the oldest moated manor
house in the British Isles. It has a magnificent great hall, a Tudor
chapel and a crypt with 4ft thick walls. Like most attractions, it is
closed for the winter, but you can wander around it and enjoy it's
picturesque setting. It looks as though it is built of Kentish ragstone
and timber. Once owned by the Sackville family, it was also a favourite
We took a route back which entailed climbing to the local high point,
"Willow Hill," I think it is called. The views were extensive and the
wind quite cold there, but we soon dropped down into deep wet tracks
which took some negotiating.
As we got back to Knole around 3pm it was already getting dark and we
were treated to an icy shower 5 minutes before we reached shelter. There
were quite a few people walking in the park, but few strayed into the
countryside beyond it's boundaries. We met the two elves (Japanese
pilgrims) again and couldn't resist a grin.
You can see more about the places mentioned in the following URLs:
SEVENOAKS AND KNOLE