Streat, Ditchling Beacon circular – mud, mud and a bit more mud….


Ummm so much for the view at the top of the Beacon…

Grizzler here, please note I am not a great narrator like Rufus, neither am I as handsome.  I am a Border Terrier and I like doing things that terriers do…..jumping leaping and generally misbehaving.  I am not a snaffler of picnics and I do not admire folk who get lost as generally speaking that is what I do.

The decision to walk the 10 miler Streat – Ditchling Beacon  circular was taken many days before the skies opened to make a Sussex mud fest of the route and before it was evident that visibility from the top of the Beacon would be zero, I loved it but not sure about Annie who is not great with a map at the best of times, iPhone Apps (UK Map) here we come.

Phone box outside the 11th Century Streat church

The walk along the Bridleway through Brocks Wood was passable but I was pleased no one had shorne my winter coat as Annie’s trews and boots were drenched, (note to walkers when it rains down low in these parts it does get mega muddy). 

The vis at the bottom was pretty good but check out my muddy coat, lovely

Up and onto the Downs the problem became one of visibility not mud.  Not a soul to be seen, with the mist actually nothing was to be seen, pretty spooky but pretty cool in its own way. 

The wind blew, the rain came, but the Downs are my fave place to walk now....Grizzler

The South Downs are wonderful.  Not sure that the start point at the bottom worked brilliantly and next time a walk across the top will be sought.  An easy walk of around 11 miles that anyone could have a go at. 

 
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Snow – an excuse to avoid London and visit Knole and its deer….


Cor it's a bit nippy out here, Rufus any spare snacks?

Knole House is always worth a stroll, especially when the only other visitors are deer or children, who have found the best hills for sledging in Sevenoaks,  (no deer sledging…).  As Camilla, Rufus, Bodge and Annie all live within a few minutes of Knole we do refer to it a bit on this blog.

Knole is a great place for a walk either as a start for a circular across the Greensand way or just in its own 1000 year old deer park.  With a fantastic history which includes the awesome Henry the VIII and Elizabeth 1 it is a must for Sevenoaks visitors. 

Henry loved the look  and size of Knole so demanded ownership of it from the Archbishop of Canterbury in 1538, he never actually lived here and there is little evidence of visits.  In 1566  Queen Elizabeth then passed the house onto one of her cousins Thomas Sackville, 1st Earl of Dorset,;Robert Sackville-West, his wife and his three children live in the house to this day over 300 years after their family were originally given it, amazing.

The writer, Vita Sackville-West, whose father inherited it, lived here as a child and wrote of it:-  “Knole ‘has a deep inward gaiety of some very old woman who has always been beautiful, who has had many lovers and seen many generations come and go … It is above all an English home,’ she continued, ‘It has the tone of England; it melts into the green of the garden turf, into the tawnier green of the park beyond, into the blue of the pale English sky.”  (Well the park was not so green today, but I think we get the gist). 

Vita got a bit cross as she was not allowed to inherit the house being a girl and so it passed into an uncle’s family, she upped sticks and bought Sissinghurst, site of the famous white garden, a little further down into Kent, and by all accounts never returned to her beloved Knole again.

Latest version of Pirates of the Caribbean was shot here!!

Knole Park, is a Site of Special Scientific Interest due largely to the loss of 70% of the trees in the great storm of 1987, the family decided to leave the felled trees on the ground and this has led to an abundance of flora and fauna.
 
The name Sevenoaks  is thought to come from the word ‘Seouenaca’, a name given to a small chapel near seven oaks in Knole Park.   In 1902 seven oaks were planted on the cricket ground to commemorate the Coronation of King Edward VII.  The town’s motto, ‘Floreant Septem Quercus’, translates as ‘May the Seven Oaks Flourish’.  You cannot escape the importance of oak trees to the town.  The great oaks on the cricket ground stood for more than 80 years until that fateful night in 1987 when their roots were torn from the soil by the infamous hurricane that cut a swathe of destruction through parts of the county.  Only one of the seven survived!
 
For the celebrity hunters note that  Knole was used to film the 1967  Beatles’ videos that accompanied the release of Penny Lane and Strawberry Fields Forever.   The stone archway through which the four Beatles rode on horses can be seen on the south eastern side of the Bird House.  The Other Boleyn Girl, Pirates of the Caribbean, Burke and Hare and a heap of other films and videos have been shot here. 

All this 32 minutes by train from the heart of London, at Sevenoaks walk up the hill and within 15 minutes Knole Park is with you.  Plenty of restaurants and coffee bars in Sevenoaks itself so well worth a trip.

A great gate to keep Joe Public at bay

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