Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House

Walk 2 Benenden to Cranbrook  Saturday 12th April 2014

Distance 8.10 miles

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Weather.  True to the weather forecast, it did not rain but the promised hot weather did not materialise, thankfully.

The Walk

We congregated on Benenden Green but despite it’s history of Mechanical Riots we were an altogether much more orderly party as we set off for Sissinghurst Castle. Mark joined us all the way from Belper for his first Three Castles walk and his company was very welcome, especially after England’s 6 Nations successes. Angus also joined us for the first time and, apart from one minor hiccup, enjoyed his walk with Granny and Grandpa. Angus was very anxious to be in front and helped keep the party on track for an early finish. Grandpa pulled a master stroke early on with the ‘my shoelace has come undone, can you take Angus please Sharon’. The baton or rather the lead was passed back to Jim just in time for ‘follow me Grandpa, I know a shortcut!’

It was an all together easier walk than the previous fortnight, fewer stiles to climb, better paths, shorter grass and the knowledge that it would be three miles shorter.

The mud at the start of Hemsted Forest soon gave way to forest tracks that almost put a spring in the party’s steps.

Trees blown down in the winter storms were still plain to see but did not block our path. Finally out of Hemsted Forest into a green lane that would lead us over the A262 into the woods that surround Sissinghurst.

Much needed tea was served on the benches outside the Granary Restaurant, for once, seats were available but in summer it is difficult to find breathing space with any form of seat in short supply—it is a very popular place. A last good bye to the Castle before the short walk to the village and the re-opened Milk House for beer and cider, just the one with a couple of miles left. The Union Mill was in action as we passed Great Swifts, still redolent of some MoD safe house. Great Swifts held Kent England cricket matches in the 19th century at the behest of Mr Tooth, the then owner but today we just marvelled at the extensive grounds the other side of the wire fence. Cranbrook was just a short walk and The White Horse made us welcome—in the garden—as Angus was not allowed to put his paws inside on the carpet. Still there was room for us all to spread out in this sheltered spot and to celebrate Hannah’s birthday the previous day a cake was produced by Mum— a castle cake of course with chocolate inside.

Well done Hannah, Gemma, Louise, Lyn, Sharon, James, Jim, Mark and Angus and special thanks to Stef for the cake.

All the photographs from the walk can be viewed at:

http://www.1066haroldsway.co.uk/about-history-walks/history-walks/three-castles

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