Thursday, August 30, 2012
After arriving in Hothfield and checking into my hotel for the night I wandered across to the neighbouring pub The Hop Pickers for something to eat and was pleasantly surprised to see that they had a ChYps collection box behind the bar even though they are 35 miles from the hospice.
The service and food in the pub were both very good and I can recommend a visit if you find yourself in the area.
After a good night's sleep and a hearty full English breakfast I was raring to go the next morning. This was to be the longest and most pleasant day of the walk.
Setting off from Hothfield I walked along very quiet country lanes to Westwell where I rejoined the Pilgrims' Way/NDW passing the camp site and resident chickens at Dunn Street....
then across the fields to Eastwell manor which is now a country house hotel and golf course. The NDW passes through the grounds of the hotel and on to Boughton Lees.
I nearly trod on this little chap hiding in the long grass. I think it may be a grouse chick. Boughton Lees is a small village with a well manicured cricket pitch on the green. The green is also home to the immaculately maintained village war memorial.
The next village on my route was Wye on the River Stour. I walked over the bridge and stopped off at the Tickled Trout for a couple of pints (of orange juice and lemonade!).
As I arrived in Wye, the village fete was in full swing. I got chatting to an elderly gentleman and he told me that his 102 year old mother in law was going to be cutting the ribbon on the village sign later in the afternoon. She had lived in Wye nearly all her life and was the oldest resident.
Unfortunately I didn't have time to stay and watch as I still had a lot of miles to cover. Leaving Wye the NDW climbs up steep hills called the Wye Downs. A crown symbol was cut into the hillside in 1902 to commemorate the coronation of King Edward VII.
The views from above the Wye Crown have to be some of the best in Kent. It was so clear I could see as far as Romney Marsh.
The NDW passes a natural geological feature called the Devil's Kneading Trough which was formed around 10000 years ago during the last ice age.
The sides of the valley drop away steeply several hundred feet. I continued on the NDW for several more miles heading for the village of Stowting where I discovered an excellent watering hole called the Tiger Inn. Here I stopped for a few more pints of orange juice and lemonade.
The pub was absolutely heaving and the food being served looked really good. I would imagine that most of the people in the pub had travelled some distance to get there as the village only consists of a few houses.
After leaving the pub I had several more steep hills to climb. The area is about 550' above sea level - this is high by Kent standards.
My next landmark was the radio transmitter on Tolsford Hill at Etchinghill.
Near the transmitter tower the NDW passes over some heathland used for military training and then passes under one of the remaining bridges of the Elham Valley Railway which used to run from Canterbury to Folkestone. The line was dismantled in the early 1950's.
After passing under the bridge I climbed my last hill of the day and finally made it to my B & B in Arpinge at about 7 PM. I had been walking for nine and a half hours and covered 21 miles.
The B & B is called Pigeonwood House and was built in 1769. It is run by a very friendly lady called Mary. The rooms are comfortable and the place is kept spotlessly clean. If you are looking for a quiet place to stay in the country look no further.
Total miles walked since leaving the hospice on Friday - 56 miles.
Number of blisters - far too many!
If you would like to help ChYps look after seriously ill Kent children in their own homes, you can make a donation here....
Thanks for your continued support.
UPDATE - for the last day of My Big Walk please see here