Kentish Castles Christmas Cracker (38441)
'A Yuletide Tudor Trail' was a possible title for this walk, because the shades of the second Tudor monarch, his second wife and his second daughter will loom large over this festive foray into the High Weald. As we proceed from Hever to Chiddingstone (only, alas, catching sight of the latter's castle) we'll encounter cosy cottages, charming churches, tranquil tracks, whispering woodlands and pleasant pastures. The Christmassyness will climax at lunchtime at The Castle Inn at Chiddingstone when we banquet beneath the fifteenth-century beams.
Some notes on the settlements and their buildings:
Markbeech: A small hamlet perched high up on the northernmost sandstone ridge of the High Weald AONB.
Cowden: All we'll just see of this place is the tiny, secluded Hole Cottage which is the remaining wing of a once much larger late-medieval hall house. Now a holiday cottage.
Chiddingstone: A unique and perfect example of a Tudor one-street village, so perfect, that the whole place is in the care of the National Trust. It's quite a film star too, as it featured in the 1985 Merchant Ivory film A Room With a View, Michael Winner's 1983 The Wicked Lady and the outdoor scenes of the BBC's 1971 Elizabeth R, starring Glenda Jackson. St Mary's Church is opulent, 14th and 15th Century, and has the tombs to the Streatfeild family (you may have heard of Noel, the author) who lived at early 19th Century Chiddingstone Castle. The village takes its name from the Chiding Stone, a Saxon judicial place or boundary marker. Plus, we're having lunch at the 15th Century Castle Inn - how cool is that?
Hever: More pleasant timber-framed original and mock-Tudor cottages, including our last pub stop, The Henry VIII. St Peter's Church contains the tomb of Thomas Boleyn of Hever Castle, father of Anne Boleyn and grandfather of Elizabeth I. Unfortunately we won't see Hever Castle.
Please see the route here.
Before lunch it's a bit hilly. We'll set out from Hever Station along footpaths and lanes to Markbeech, when more footpaths will take us toward Cowden to see Hole Cottage. More lanes and paths will take us to Horseshoe Green and Buckfast Farm. More tarmac walking along Trugger's Lane with superb views will take us to Hoath Corner. Weller's Town Road and a foopath will then take us to Chiddingstone, where we'll see the Stone, the church and the Tudor buildings, and have lunch at the pub.
After lunch it's fairly flat. There's just an hour's walking along the Eden Valley Walk between Chiddingstone and Hever. We'll see Chiddingstone Castle and its grounds before walking through woodland trails to Hever where we'll see the church and have a drink at The Henry VIII. After that we'll take paths and lanes back to Hever Railway Station for those travelling by rail to catch the 16:05 home.
What to bring
For your comfort and safety please be prepared for the anticipated weather and the terrain of the walk - keep in mind the following:
Boots: Hiking boots that are both waterproof and breathable, and provide good ankle support, are important as soon as you encounter any mud. Cross trainers may suffice in good weather and flat routes.
Socks: Proper walking socks keep your feet dry, and help prevent blisters.
Walking Trousers: (ideally water resistant) will be more comfortable than Jeans which are heavy and cold when wet. From April to October shorts are usually a better bet.
Waterproof Over-Trousers: essential in any significant rainfall. Breathable ones are best.
Layered clothing: allows you to quickly adapt to changes in the weather as well as body temperature. E.g. a base layer or a cotton T-Shirt; a mid layer like a micro fleece, or a rugby type thick shirt, and in cooler weather an outer layer consisting of a windproof jacket or a thick fleece.
Waterproof Jacket: essential when hiking in all but the calmest of weather. You get what you pay for with these. Breathable fabrics are advisable.
Hat: essential both in mid winter to preserve heat and in summer to prevent sunburn and heatstroke.
Gloves: essential in frosty weather.
Small Rucksack: One that is comfortable to wear is essential so that you can use your arms freely. Place valuables in water proof bags inside.
Sunglassses: April- Sept: comfortable sunglasses enhance your pleasure and keep insects out of the eye
Water: even in winter one can loose a litre or more of fluid by perspiration. If you fail to make this up you'll get dehydrated which can lead to headaches and other problems. A hydration bladder is easier to use than bottled water, but higher maintenance.
Food: a packed lunch will be required unless otherwise stated. In addition carry energy bars or similar to counter 'sugar lows'.
Medicines: If you have allergies, are diabetic, or have minor ailments don't forget these!
Food & Drink
Just bring some drink, because we are booked in to have a pub lunch at The Castle Inn at Chiddingstone. Please see the menu here. I'll email to ask what you'd like to eat two weeks before the walk as the pub would like a pre-order. This will ensure rapid service on the day. If you're unsure about being able to attend, please tell me what you'd like to eat anyway as it'll be easier to cancel your order if you don't come than chase you for it if you do.
You are welcome to have a packed lunch on a bench in the village instead of the pub lunch.
An hour before we get the train, we'll have a drink at The Henry VIII at Hever.
Meeting & Times
Other Useful Information
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All photos, except the last two were classed as 'Free to use and share' on Yahoo Image Search. The last two were taken by Owen Clutton.
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