Tag Archives: north downs way

Milestone Monday: another milestone on the North Downs Way

3 May

This photo raises several questions: Why have the metric distances been erased from this stone? Was it an act of vandalism? Why have I suddenly become obsessed with photographing milestones?

NDW Milestone

If you are look at the photo I posted last week you will see what I mean. Alongside the traditional imperial measurement (miles) should be the metric equivalent (kilometres). It is my guess that someone was so enraged by the inclusion of metric measurements that they took their chisel to the milestone.

Also if you compare the distances with last weeks photo you will see we have moved slightly closer to Dover, only 65 miles now compared to 77 miles last week. This stone is locate on top of the North Downs near Cotman’s Ash, Kent.

North Downs Way: Otford to Wrotham

1 May

Another stretch of the North Downs Way was completed today, this was only a short section (6.7 miles according to the guide book) because we were limited by access to the railway and impending rain.

The good news was that it stayed dry until we were on the train on our way home, although it was a lot cooler and cloudier than last week. I could have done with a little more sunshine, otherwise it was pretty near ideal conditions. There were some bright moments, as the photo below illustrates.

Blue sky and cloud

The route took us along the North Downs Way from Otford to Wrotham both in the county of Kent. The walk began with a pretty steep climb almost straight out of the railway station at Otford. After that the path levelled off somewhat, and the going was quite easy.

About two miles from Wrotham the path dropped down from the hills and we followed the route of the Pilgrim’s Way along the foot of the North Downs into the village. From Wrotham we had to made a short diversion south to Borough Green to catch the train from Borough Green and Wrotham railway station.

Bluebells near Cotman's Ash

The most outstanding part of the walk were the areas of woodland that were carpeted with bluebells. I saw a few dotted about last week, but they really have opened up over the last few days.

Milestone Monday: North Downs Way

26 Apr

I can’t promise that this is going to be a regular post for my blog, although I might be able to find a few more examples whilst out wandering. It doesn’t have anything to do with genealogy, except for the fact that it looks a bit like a headstone (which is why I took the photo).

North Downs Milestone

Just by chance I had a look at the back of the milestone and found there was an inscription on the back which reads: THIS MILESTONE WAS PLACED TO COMMEMORATE THE WORK UNDERTAKEN BY KENT COUNTY COUNCIL AND THE COUNTRYSIDE COMMISSION ON THE NORTH DOWNS WAY NATIONAL TRAIL 1993

It is place by the side of a private road named The Ave, which runs across the North Downs, to the north of Westerham, Kent. We are heading towards Dover, so we only have another 77 miles to go!

According to the guidebook for the North Downs Way this stone marks the boundary of the counties of Surrey (on the left) and Kent (on the right), although I have not been able to verify this on the map.

All wandering and no genealogy

24 Apr

Today my friend Chris and I continued our walk along the North Downs Way. It was our first proper walk of the year, but hopefully the first of many. We picked up more or less where we left of last year.

We are slowly working eastwards along the North Downs between Farnham in Surrey and Dover in Kent, although we are generally heading eastwards, each section seems to have been walked from east to west for some unknown reason.

Today was no exception, we started from Otford, Kent and made our way westwards to Oxted, Surrey. The total distance was about 14 miles including the final stretch from the hills to the centre of Oxted and the railway station. Despite being on hills, most of the route was pretty level with only one steep climb at the start.

I quite liked Otford. It was the first time I have been there and it is quite a charming place. We counted four pubs within the first mile of our walk, three or four antique shops and a small pond in the centre of the town/village. There is even a heritage centre, which wasn’t open when we went past. I wish I had an excuse to go back again, perhaps one day I will.

The weather was absolutely fantastic, the sun shone and remarkably I was in a short sleeve shirt and shorts. I can’t believe it is only April and I am already wearing shorts. The ground is incredibly dry, we haven’t had any proper rain for three weeks now. This fills me with optimism about the summer weather, but I am trying not to get my hopes up, rather I am making the most of the good weather whilst it lasts.

There were only two negative points from today’s walk, the presence of the M25 motorway, the noise of which was a constant companion throughout the day. The other drawback was that there was still a slight haze, so the views were not as spectacular as they should have been.

View from the Surrey hills

The most interesting feature of day were a couple of groups of young women (probably students), armed with maps and wearing large backpacks. They appeared to be on some sort of orienteering challenge, but were seemingly hopelessly lost. Hopefully I was able to put one group back on the right track, but as I write this I wonder if they are still wandering across the hills?

So genealogy took a back seat today. Although we were walking in an area where my GASSON ancestors probably came from, I can’t really claim any genealogical connection. Weather and aching muscles permitting we will be back in Kent next Saturday to complete the next section, that will be two Saturdays in a row without genealogy, so I will probably start suffering withdrawal symptoms and have to get back into an archive the following weekend.

Walking on the North Downs again

26 Sep

My good friend Chris and I completed another section of the North Downs Way today. Bit by bit, as time and weather allow, we are going to walk the whole length of it. Today’s section was from Oxted to Merstham, both in Surrey, and I have named it the motorway section (freeway for any Americans reading this) as we had to cross three stretches of motorway and the noise of traffic was an almost constant companion throughout the walk.

I think this was the first time I had been to Oxted, I have no ancestors from there so why else would I need to go? From what I saw it was a nice little town, from the railway station we had about a mile and a half to walk before we actually got to the North Downs Way, crossing the M25 in the process.

The M25 north of Oxted, Surrey

The M25 north of Oxted, Surrey

The weather was almost perfect for walking, the grass was a bit damp to start from the early morning dew, but apart from that it was bright and sunny most of the time. There was some cloud later on, but it was by no means cold, in fact the first few miles were out in the open and it was getting a bit too warm. Most of the rest of the walk was shaded, which restricted the views but made conditions much nicer for walking.

Looking South across Godstone Vineyard

Looking South across Godstone Vineyard

Although the weather was good, the visibility was not perfect, and although at one point (near Willey Park Farm) we could just make out the tall office buildings of London, it was not possible to see them clearly. It really surprised me, to be in the open countryside and still be able to see parts of London, I wish I had taken my binoculars with me.

The derelict Whitehill Tower

The derelict Whitehill Tower

As I said the views were limited, but the were a couple of features closer to the path that you couldn’t miss. One was the wonderfully Whitehill Tower (pictured above) described in my route guide as a “derelict folly”, although I have been unable to find precious little else about it.

Another trig point for my collection

Another trig point for my collection

No walk along the North Downs would be complete without spotting a trig point, and today was no exception. This beauty was just before we started our descent towards Merstham.

The M23 cutting through the landscape

The M23 cutting through the landscape

The descent to Merstham and the train home involved crossing two motorways the M23 and back over the M25 again. Fortunately an underpass was provided for the first and a bridge for the second. All in all this was quite an easy section, about 10 miles in all (including getting out of Oxted), although most of the route was undulating their were only really one or two challenging climbs, and they were mercifully short.


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