Tag Archives: otford

The Shoreham Cross

4 May

Saturday’s walk along another stretch of the North Downs has re-awakened another of my passions, a love of hill figures. Hill figures come in a variety of shapes (mostly horses), sizes, ages, material (mainly chalk) and are found mostly in Southern England (mainly in Wiltshire).

The starting point of our walk was Otford, which is just south of Shoreham, Kent. Shoreham is home to a hill figure, a chalk cross on the hillside. My first glimpse of the cross was from the train the week before, but it was only last week that I got chance to take the photo below, from Otford Mount.

Shoreham Cross

This hill figure is 100 feet high and 58 feet wide and was constructed in 1920. It serves as a war memorial to the men of Shoreham who lost their lives during the First and Second World Wars.

Shoreham Cross close-up

I wish we had more time to actually go and get a closer look at the cross, and the memorial stone. I am sure the chance will occur another time, and it looks like it is being well cared for and should be there for many years to come.

I know we will be passing several other Kent hill figures, and there are a couple of figures near the South Downs Way as well, so you can expect to see more hill figures on this blog in the future.

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.

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.

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