Around the UK: a Photo Diary #1 Kent, The Garden of England

A series of photos from our travels around the UK (not necessarily in the van…) I’ve tried to include lesser known spots – maybe give you some ideas of new places and attractions to visit?

The UK is not only our home, it’s also a very beautiful island with so many beauty spots, amazing beaches and interesting attractions in every nook and cranny of the country (in both rural and urban settings).

Here I’m collating some of my favourite photos from our travels around the country over the years.  I’ve tried to include slightly less well known places (although it’s impossible to not include some of the big hitters!), and tbf the majority of the photos are from our travels in 2017 – I think I’ll have to do a separate post for ‘all other photos’!

Maybe this could give you some ideas of places to visit or walks to take in the coming months of staycationing – some of the places I show may well be within striking distance for you to take a daytrip for your regular walk.

However you use this post I hope you enjoy the photos, and perhaps are able to find a new favourite place to visit 🙂

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We loved old Hastings.  Obviously much of what we experienced (such as the cliff trams and the fisherman’s museum) will not be open in the current environment.  However, you can still walk and see much of what we did.  The country park at the top of the cliff provides a delightful walk and is well worth the effort 🙂

See my original posts on the area for more detail (such as what the structures behind the boats are)

Hastings

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Battle Abbey is an English Heritage property whilst Bodiam Castle is National Trust – if you are taking a prolonged trip around the UK (when we are able to again) it’s worth joining both organisations;  It saved us a huge amount of money on our 2017 trip 🙂

For more detail see my original posts:

Battle

Bodiam

Steam Trains

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No photos of Dover Castle??!!  Well, when you can Dover Castle is an absolute MUST visit (English Heritage).  However, as promised, I’ve gone with a couple of lesser known sites.  The sound mirror is visible on a walk along the top of the cliffs – those steps leading towards it on the left-hand side of the photo?  They are really steep!  I was literally clambering up them (and was quite (okay, very) scared at times…)

Ringwauld was a little further around the coast – we spotted the church and turned around.  We had a little walk round and discovered a bit of history 🙂  We also followed a small sign (again, almost missed) near the castle to see the plaque dedicated to the first cross channel flight.  Again, easy access and a short walk is possible here.

More detail available in my original posts:

Dover

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The Battle of Britain Memorial at Capel le Ferne, nr Folkestone is a wonderful visit.  I think the memorial will be accessible even when the visitor centre isn’t (it’s certainly worth checking) and a short walk is possible here.  Wonderful views and plenty of history too 🙂

There is a long seafront promenade at Sandgate which takes you past a small castle.

More detail in my original Dover post

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Rye is a beautiful town and Dungeness is a very unusual English landscape.  Both are well worth a visit and lots of walking is possible.  Rye Harbour is a nature reserve with plenty of paths to walk or cycle with several points of interest along the way, such as the haunting Mary Stanford Lifeboat house.

We found the Brightling Follies walk in one of our walking books, ‘The AA 100 Walks in Southeast England‘ – again something you can follow during lockdown 🙂

More detail in my original post:

Review of Charming Rye, East Sussex

Dungeness

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Winchelsea is a tiny town with a massive history.  There is a clue is the size of the church, even without taking into account the ruins surrounding the current structure.  There are regular tours of the Winchelsea Cellars (not all 51, but apparently different ones feature in different tours).

We also took the opportunity to visit an English Vineyard; Carr Taylor was a few miles down the road from where we were staying.  Offering a tour of the vineyard (you can go anywhere!) for £2.50 (including wine tasting and information).  We could have paid a little more and enjoyed a ploughmans lunch as well – we didn’t go for this though as I don’t really enjoy that sort of lunch!  The tasting was very informative and really rather enjoyable (I wasn’t driving so was able to make the most of it!)  Our favourite was the sparkling rose which was the best I’ve ever had (proven by the fact that we went away having spent about £130 – I think I’m splashing out if I spend £5 on a bottle….)

More detail in my original posts:

Winchelsea

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Other visits included Scotney Castle & Sissingshurst – both National Trust properties.  Both were lovely but I think we both preferred Scotney Castle – there’s quite a story to be told here and the gardens are beautiful (as they are at Sissinghurst).

More detail in my original post:

Sissinghurst

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The Rough Guide to Kent, Sussex and Surrey detail the medieval churches of the Romney Marshes.  One cloudy afternoon we decided to try to visit the 5 they recommended.  (Our copy is from 2013 – there has been an update since with a new edition due out on 1st June.  We find these books invaluable when touring).

It appears that I didn’t write about this when we visited (I shall keep looking!)

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Another day we found Sandwich – a beautiful little town with plenty of history, a town trail to follow and, of course, a world-renowned golf course.  And also 3 sets of alms houses 🙂

There is a great deal of Roman history in Kent, including monuments and crosses by the side of the road and also the Richborough Roman Fort, run by English Heritage.

More detail in my original post:-

Sandwich

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On our 1st visit to Canterbury the price to visit the cathedral put us off, but we went anyway on our 2nd visit – and were glad we did 🙂

We stayed in Herne Bay and were able to cycle along the promenade to Whitstable.  Plenty of walking and cycling opportunities here.

More detail in my original post:

Canterbury Herne Bay/Whitstable

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In North Kent we visited Rochester, Chatham Docks, Whitstable and the Isle of Sheppey (we won’t go there again…) from our base in Herne Bay.

We absolutely loved Rochester – the only problem being that we didn’t put enough money in the parking meter and had to abandon our visit to the town museum about halfway through 😦  It was one of those really informative town museums that very few people think to visit.  The castle, cathedral (the UK’s 2nd oldest and one of the smallest) and the museum all absolutely worth visiting.

Chatham Docks – I missed out on the Call the Midwives tour (an extra cost but 1 that I was willing to pay!!)  The ticket is expensive but lasts a year (great if you live in the area – not so good if you don’t).

Below are some links to posts not mentioned above but that may cover more detail of this area.  Also a link to my campsite reviews for this area.

My next post will deal with photos from our time in East Anglia.

Keep safe and I really hope to start posting new content again soon 🙂

East Sussex, Kent & Surrey

Our 1st 3 months away in the UK in 2017

Back on the Road – 2017

Easter Weekend – 2017

Campsite reviews – East Sussex & Kent

 

 

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Dungeness on Monday and the Brightling Follies on Tuesday

Easter Monday dawned a little grey so we resolved to stay put.  However after lunch we were getting a bit restless so decided to head down towards Dungeness.

On the way we took the seafront route, driving past Camber & Broomhill Sands.  We were pleased to note that there was a good off-road cycle route running for miles from Rye towards Lydd.

We found a Go-Kart track off-route just past Lydd.  It was a proper track and we were able to watch a few laps before heading on towards Dungeness.

As we drove down the road towards the New Lighthouse of Dungeness we encountered a landscape unlike anything we’ve really seen before in the UK.  To the left we could see the ruins of boats and old tracks that would have been used to drag said boats up and down the beach.  We think that some were still in use.  But the majority of the beach resembled a boat graveyard.  On the right, maybe 1/2 mile away, the power station dominates.

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We also went past Prospect Cottage; previously the home of Derek Jarman, and late film director, and famous for the garden he designed for the cottage.  It’s very pretty and stands out compared to most of the cottages along this stretch towards the huge expanse of shingle beach.

Speaking of the cottages I have to say that I felt a little misled by many of the travel programmes that feature this area.  My expectations were that there would just be a few abandoned cottages dotted along the shingle, but this isn’t the case at all.  There are dozens of old cottages. Many of these started as railway carriages and they have been added to over the years.  But there are also several, clearly, brand new structures in place.  Some are being used as galleries.  They are almost all occupied in some way.

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This is what I was expecting to see at Dungeness!

 

There’s no doubt this is a remote place to live, and I can imagine it gets fairly bleak at times (it was windy enough when we were there!)  But there is a pub and post boxes, and also a café/restaurant (The End of the Line, also the ticket office for the Romney, Hythe and Dymchurch Miniature railway).

This railway runs 13 1/2 miles to Hythe (a trip of about 1 1/4 hours in total).  Calv enjoyed standing outside studying the engine whilst it was waiting in the station.  He suffered later though as the whistle blew very loudly right next to him and he had a persistent whistling in his ear for the rest of the evening!

We had a really good view of the railway from the top of the Old Lighthouse (a new one was necessary as when the Power Station was built it blocked the view of the lighthouse from the channel – good planning then…)

It cost £4 each to visit the lighthouse and on a good day you can go outside at the top (as long as you can get through the rather low opening – I hesitate to call it a door!)  The keepers lived in the roundhouse that you can see in the pictures.

We then wandered back towards the New Lighthouse with a diversion along the boardwalk towards the sea (see the main picture).  We saw sea-kale growing on the beach, and apparently part of the reason for the boardwalk is to protect rare plant-life.  We didn’t actually make it to the New Lighthouse as it was so windy and cold.  So we headed back to ‘The End of the Line’ for a cup of tea (actually a very good cup of tea…) and this is where Calv stood outside for 10 mins ‘inspecting’ the engine.

There is also an RSPB centre which we didn’t have time to visit unfortunately.

We headed a little further along the coast through Greatstone on Sea and Littleton on Sea, seeing some rather impressive houses and other buildings, such as this old water tower (looking like it was perhaps halfway through a renovation?)  We were also following the line of the miniature railway, but only as far as New Romney where we got back onto the main road and headed home to the van.

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Tuesday 20th April

We started the day by heading into St Leonards to get some washing and shopping done.

In the afternoon I had found a walk that I wanted to do in nearby Brightling – 10 miles away.  It looked interesting as it was concerned with finding some of the Brightling Follies, built by ‘Mad’ Jack Fuller (many prefer for him to be called ‘Honest’ Jack).

We parked up outside the St Thomas a Becket church where a very nice local man, Simon, chatted to us about our walk and told us a bit more about Jack Fuller  who seems to have been a fascinating man who did much good in the area.

Simon is involved in trying to provide more information on Jack Fuller and his follies in the village, by turning the red phone box outside the church into a mini-museum.  Good luck Simon – it’s a brilliant idea.

We began in the church, where the Pyramid is located.  This is actually Jack Fuller’s mausoleum.  As we rounded the corner of the church we were confronted, yes confronted, by sheep protecting their young, and we had the impression that they didn’t want us entering that particular area!  So we retreated… In the church we noted that the pews held cushions and that every cushion was individual.  I found one for a John Fuller – I wonder if that was Mad (Honest) Jack’s??

We then started our walk well by going in completely the opposite direction to that we were meant to – only we didn’t know this for a while.  However, the upshot of this was that we managed to see all 6 of the follies (one of which, the observatory, isn’t actually a folly but scientific pioneering – as advised by Simon; thanks Simon!)

So we’d seen the Pyramid.  Now as we walked out of the village, along the road, towards Woods Corner we could see glimpses of the Obelisk.  Coming to a junction we could now see the Observatory.  We had by now realised that we were going the wrong way but decided to continue.  So we took the road to the right and before we turned right again we had a much better view of the Observatory.  A little further down the road we had an unobstructed view of the Obelisk.  Unfortunately neither is accessible, the Observatory now being a private residence.  Both of these were a bonus as we wouldn’t have seen them properly, if at all, had we gone the right way!!

Now we were looking for a public footpath to get us back on track (or so we thought..)  We eventually found one immediately after the entrance to the British Gypsum mine.  This took us down a long field and into woodland.

The woods were beautiful with many different wild-flowers as well as the usual bluebells and snowdrops.

We also saw an ancient tree which was pretty amazing.  There is also a covered conveyor belt running through the woods, which is something to do with the mine.

We were getting increasingly worried that we were going in completely the wrong direction, and as my phone battery was running out we didn’t have much time left on using google maps to help keep us on track!

On emerging from the woods we turned left, which didn’t feel right..  I managed to squeeze the last bit of battery out of my phone to confirm that, yet again, we were going the wrong way.

Once back on track we were constantly looking around to see if we could spot any of the remaining 3 follies.  We were finally rewarded with a view of the tower!  We chose to head back to the car to charge up my phone and then drive to the tower.  We actually sat outside trying to get back up to 10%.

The Tower, is actually accessible and at the very top there’s a rickety ladder, which Calv duly climbed up…  As we were walking back over the field to the car Calv suddenly shouted out, “There’s the Temple!”  And it was indeed, in the distance 🙂  This prompted me to scan the horizon to see if I could see the Sugar Loaf (a folly resembling a church spire).  My turn to shout out “There it is!”  We’d found all 6 – happy days 🙂

We then drove around the edge of the Brightling Park in search of a closer view of the Temple and the Sugar Loaf.  We found the sugar loaf and were able to access this.  We also found a closer view of the Temple, although this wasn’t accessible.

We’d walked about 4 miles in total.  I have to say some of the stiles were very high – I’ve only got short legs!  Calv found it highly amusing watching me trying to get over these.  I had the last laugh though when he had to lift me off a couple of them!