It is surprising how few books we read whilst travelling, when I was commuting to work in London I would get through a book a week without any trouble. Now it takes me months to read a book, perhaps it is due to my change in taste of reading material (can you have a change in taste in reading?), but also the lack of time. I now tend to read at the end of the day and invariably fall asleep.
However, recently I started and finished a book in next to no time, it was Bill Bryson’s ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’. I like Bryson’s style of writing and have read all his books and a few a couple of times and “A Walk in the Woods” three times – the bit about buying equipment for the walk has a resonance with my travel preparations.
The worrying thing about ‘The Road to Little Dribbling’ is that I think I may be turning into Bryson; we both hate litter and have similar views on many things. What resounded with me was when Bill decided he had enough clothes to last him for the rest of his days. For me it is not that I don’t want new clothes, it’s that frankly I can’t be arsed to wander around shops choosing a pair of trousers I might wear three times a year! If I do buy clothes, they are walking clothes that I wear every week.
However, I should (and do) recognise that just because I don’t like buying clothes it should not stop Lynnie. Lynnie has shopped from the comfort of the caravan via the internet for her autumn collection (she isn’t keen on trailing around shops either and her autumn collection is two items!). By the magic of the modern world we have arranged to collect said items from stores in Tunbridge Wells, so that’s where we are heading today.
We have never been to Tunbridge Wells before; it looks a very interesting place. But we are on a mission, Lynnie and I want to get to the shops and the two dogs want to demonstrate their efficiency at clearing any food waste discarded on the pavements. You would think the dogs would prefer a walk in the countryside, but our Labradors would opt for a stroll around a city centre any day. There are plenty of people willing to give them a stroke and titbits lie discarded everywhere!
Items collected we head back to the car making a mental note to return to Tunbridge Wells for a good wander about; it is full of interesting buildings.
Back at Waghorn’s CL we plan our walk; we decide we have spent enough time in the car today, so start from the caravan. We turn right along Newbury Lane and then right along Windmill Lane to walk into Cousley Wood then take Butts Lane to the left of the pub.
Wandering down the lane Dexter is quick to chomp on a couple of cobnuts. When I was a nipper we used to collect cobnuts whilst harvesting. Being on top of a bail cart gave easy access to the treetops. Like Dexter we used to crack them with our teeth, not something I would do now (unlike Dexter we didn’t eat the shells!) the nuts were delicious. So I try to collect a few before Dexter gets them all!
We continue on the lane towards Little Butts Farm, but instead of following it to the farm we take the track straight ahead as the tarmac lane sweeps to the left. After a gentle climb we get views across Bewl Water and I half jokingly suggest to Lynnie that we walk around it again but this time go anti-clockwise. I receive a very short reply!
We are on the Sussex Border Path, which we follow down to Bewl Water where we turn right and within a hundred yards take a path to the right, signed to Wadhurst and leading away from the reservoir. We walk through a field of sheep and then arrive at a stile with a dog gate besides it. What a beauty!
Obviously landowners need to ensure their fields are secure for their stock. Whilst walking we have encountered many kinds of gates and stiles, our favourite for ease of access (and romance) are kissing gates. However, we encounter many other obstacles that are impassable unless the dogs are lifted over. If a landowner is unable to fit a kissing gate then this is an ideal model of a stile and dog gate. Doffing my cap to the thoughtful farmer we continue on our way.
We are heading towards Little Pell Farm and we soon encounter our first hop field since arriving in the area. I don’t know much about hops, other than them being a key ingredient in a good pint of ale. I was hoping to see some of the harvest but it looks like we are a week or two too late.
Passing Little Pell Farm we soon join a minor road that goes straight into Wadhurst. We drove through this small town a few days ago and thought it interesting, there are plenty of old buildings housing traditional shops, as well as the obligatory cafes and estate agents. I am taken by the Commemoration Hall built after the first World War. A few years ago they talked of demolishing this building to create a new community centre. Personally I think buildings like this are worth saving and from the local website it appears well used.
On this warm autumnal afternoon it is a pleasant place to be, but like so many places there was a time in the past when tragedy struck. On 20th January 1956 a RAF Meteor plane crashed onto the centre of Wadhurst killing the pilot, navigator and two local residents. The RAF inquiry found that the pilot lost control after circling the village where his parents ran a newsagents. He was 120 miles from base when the limit was sixty.
Wherever you are in Wadhurst you cannot help but see the church of St Peter and St Paul. It dominates this small town with its tall steeple. Conveniently it is on our route out of town so we stop for a brief look around.
A footpath runs through the churchyard and we follow this into an attractive hedge lined path leading to a minor road where we turn left towards Pell Bridge.
After crossing the bridge the road forks and we go left, gradually climbing uphill to cross the B2100 at Primmers Green, joining a minor road on the far side.
As we are jamming about we have no clearly defined route, so decide to stop and check the map. Within seconds two locals appear offering us help (their neighbourhood watch must be working well!). We explain we are not lost, only planning the next stage of our route. Continuing on we take a left fork in the road and then at a crossroads carry straight on. We are taken by the fingerpost; it appears we are surrounded by greens.
We continue along the road ignoring a side road on the right and then another on the left. At a fork we go left and on reaching White Gates Farm take the bridleway on the right following the farm track. Heading down I spot bears ahead but I am confident they are not on our route.
As the track sweeps to the right the path continues straight ahead, easy to follow, but straight into the field of bears with young calves. We stop and consider our options, and as we do the bears drift away across the field. Our route is close to the left hand hedge so we give them a few minutes before entering the field, keeping a watchful eye in case they decide to take offence at us entering their territory.
Thankfully we are soon out of their line of vision and follow the path to a white gate by a small bridge crossing a stream. The path continues on a track towards Great Shoesmith Farm, a couple of horses in the field besides the track hope our arrival might signal a treat and they trot over to greet us.
After passing the farm there are a number of footpaths, we take one that heads almost straight on through a gate and then forks right towards Brick Kiln Wood. After crossing a footbridge we carry straight on along the clearly defined path through the woods. This goes steadily uphill; as it levels out we get good views back across the valley.
After leaving the woods the path carries straight on between two fields and then joins a ‘B’ road which we follow until we reach Newbury Lane where we fork left to wander back to Waghorn’s CL. Our ramble has covered six miles and has been very enjoyable; this is a cracking area for walking. The dogs, particularly Dexter, are enjoying the autumnal walks, he has a taste for cobnuts, and both he and Crosby have been busy consuming blackberries at every opportunity.
To follow our walk you will need Ordnance Survey Explorer Map 136 – High Weld
22nd September 2016
© Two Dogs and an Awning (2016)