Wednesday, July 11, 2012

Cancer Research Charity Walk Harrietsham to Ringlestone

On 1st July I joined a couple of hundred fellow walkers for a 10 mile charity walk over the North Downs around Harrietsham in aid of Cancer Research UK.

The walk has been organised annually for the past 27 years by the Rotary Club of the Weald of Kent and to date has raised over £ 400000 for Cancer Research UK and other local Kent charities.

I joined the walk last year and decided to take part once again. The Rotary Club have the organisation of the walk down to a fine art and are a very amiable bunch. At the end of the walk, all participants are treated to a free ploughman's lunch, strawberries and cream and entertained by a live jazz band.

The walk started out from Harrietsham village hall and passed close by the late 11th century church of St John The Baptist and war memorial before heading off on a footpath through the fields towards Court Lodge Farm.

Kent's best dressed man? Probably not.

The view up to the top of the Downs.

Fields of wheat.

After passing the farm we took a right hand turn at No Man's Acre and headed steeply uphill making for the North Downs Way/Pilgrim's Way which runs along the top of the ridge. The Pilgrims Way was used for centuries by pilgrims heading for Canterbury.

Unfortunately this part of the Pilgrims Way is a by way rather than a public footpath and there were a number of off road bikes and quads racing up and down like lunatics. Not good when there are families with small children walking in the opposite direction...

After following the Pilgrims Way for about half a mile we reached the first check point and the rain started to fall heavily. At each checkpoint volunteers from the Rotary Club dispensed cups of squash, biscuits and words of encouragement. 

Luckily we joined a footpath through dense woodland (High Wood/Salisbury Wood). The thick canopy  helped to keep off the worst of the rain. Another mile or so further on and the second check point was reached at Ringlestone Road. At this checkpoint the Rotary Club had even laid on portable toilets! The rain had eased off and the sun was out. 

Our route then followed another ancient trackway, Drake Lane for about half a mile. This track possibly took it's name from Sir Francis Drake. This was a very peaceful and enjoyable leg of the walk. No traffic noise just the sound of birdsong and fields full of daisies. 

The third checkpoint was at Yewtree Farm. The sky had got ominously black but fortunately the rain remained in the distance so we avoided another dousing.

The fourth and final checkpoint was in the car park of the Ringlestone Arms.

During the 1960's the pub was run by two eccentric old ladies, Florence and Dora Gasking.

The pub door used to remain bolted shut at all times and customers wishing to gain access had to knock. At first the door would be opened slightly ajar so the customer could be "inspected" by the old ladies. 

If they decided they didn't like the look of a customer, which was often the case, he would be sent packing. Should he be brave (or foolish) enough to remonstrate with the ladies a shot gun would be poked out of the door! 

Nowadays the pub is a much friendlier place.

After leaving the pub our route passed across open farmland (Merlewood Farm and Lower Dean Farm). There were excellent views down the valley towards Court Lodge Farm which we had passed on the outward leg earlier in the morning.

A great display of poppies, heather and other wild flowers. 

The walk finished back at Harrietsham village hall. It took me about three hours to complete the distance of just under ten miles. 

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1 comment:

  1. That was a great walk! I like the photos above-beautiful, especially that of the wild flowers.