Tragedy at Iden Green

This Bird is dead, deceased, gone to meet its Maker.

The Woodcock is no more.

What sad tragedy it is that walkers will never feel the warmth again of the fire on winter walks or sit in the garden on a summer’s day.

Isolated and weather boarded, remote down its country lane – that led to Dingleden and little else – it was supported and enjoyed by all who discovered its charms.

IMGP2132 cropIt was always a walk leader’s nightmare for every group would want to stop and savour its delights and bang their heads on the beams inside. The Woodcock sat by the footpath from Sissinghurst to Bodiam Castle and I found its charms irresistible when researching and walking both 1066 Harold’s Way and Three Castles but now the doors are shut and its lease for sale.

It was once a freehouse and served as a ‘gentlemen’s club’ for the owner, who delighted in serving Goacher’s excellent beers and food to satisfy, but he retired around four years ago and Greene King’s accountants became the owners.

The rest is history but its reputation will continue in the hope that the Woodcock will fly again.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ 

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

Read The Woodcock Blog 2014

You never know what is just around the corner

Walking 1066 Harold’s Way – Staplehurst to Sissinghurst

Road sign

Getting off The Arriva No 5, that wonderful bus service that provides a link for walking 1066 Harold’s Way from Maidstone to Sandhurst, I was in plenty of time to complete the walk from Staplehurst to Sissinghurst.

After the disappointment that The Railway Inn was still closed, and likely to be for the foreseeable future, I wondered what changes there might be since I last walked the route.

I was soon to find out and within five minutes my plans had changed.

I left the Railway Tavern and walked south along the A229 for a few metres and took the first road left, Fishers Road and continued to the end.

Instead of the expected paddock there was now a small housing estate nearing completion and although the footpath took a similar route as in the Guide, there was no path south!

Health and Safety issues with the continuing building work has meant that the path has been closed and although it is likely to be re-instated in the Autumn it was no good to me today.

So, for the moment, there is no alternative but to walk the mile along the A229, first on Station Approach and the High Street to re-join 1066 Harold’s Way at the top of the hill by All Saints Church.

Walking through the length of this very long village is not the ideal start to a walk but, for the moment, needs must and there is the consolation that you are walking along the old Roman road and the likely route of King Harold’s men on their way to battle.

The rest of the route is still good with the added bonus that the revitalised Knox Bridge pub should be open for weary walkers after a very chequered recent history.

1066 Harold’s Way

Route

Open, closed, open, closed – OPEN

The Knox Bridge

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Refreshed and restored back to its original name and with a new landlord and landlady two years ago, The Knox Bridge is building its reputation again and I’ve heard nothing but good about the place.

At the halfway point of the walk between Staplehurst and Sissinghurst it provides a beer alternative to the Knox Bridge Café across the road, especially on a summer’s day in the sun trap of a garden.

Good beer, good food and attentive owners bring the pub alive. Inside this one roomed country pub there are scattered chairs and tables set for eating, settees in a snug by the hearth and a small cosy dining area behind the bar.

There was Harvey’s Best and Harvey’s Pale Ale and the guest Canterbury Ales’ Pardoner’s Ale at 3.8% that proved to be a real treat, a refreshing pale ale and nicely bitter that complimented the sunlight streaming through the windows as I sat and thought about walking and ‘Beer Notes’.

Bright and cheerful, it has that welcoming feel that all pubs try hard to achieve and now, The Knox Bridge succeeds and if you do decide to stay for a couple more, the bus stops to Sissinghurst or back to Staplehurst are just outside!

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ 

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

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Anchor and Hope for all who enter in

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Away from the ‘cool’ Greenwich pubs, in fact an hour’s walk away along the Thames Path, past the loop of the O2 Arena and close to the Thames Barrier, there is a curiously black painted pub that similarly stands by the Thames. Its benches and seats overlook the river but this is more Charlton chic than cool Greenwich.

It is suggested by the Dictionary of Pub Names that the name is symbolic, derived from the words of St Paul ‘Which hope we have as an anchor of the soul, both sure and steadfast ….’, fitting words perhaps for a pub by the Thames amidst the wharves and quays and sailing ships and the daily grind of difficult and hard work.

Once, the Anchor and Hope would have been divided into three or four rooms and built for the developing New Charlton riverside of factories and terraces in the middle of the 19th century. A major employer was the Siemens Brothers Telegraph Works that opened in 1863 but all the factories have long gone and the ‘masterplan’ for a new Riverside is yet to bear fruit.

Now, the Anchor and Hope is a one roomed pub with walls hung with memories of ships and boats and an arch to a small dining room impressively lined with wood panelling and large heavy gilt mirrors.

I’m originally from Nottingham and those formative rugby playing years spent, post-match, drinking Home Ales or Kimberly Ales are now a distant memory. Imagine my delight after my trials and tribulations (from all the Thames Path detours from Greenwich) that the Anchor and Hope served Hardy Hanson’s Kimberly Ales. Despite the brewery now being part of Greene King, that distinctive bitterness prevailed and at 3.9% was a treat. The other draught is an Anchor and Hope Bitter, again at 3.9%.

Settees and comfy chairs inside and a terrace next to the river, that is always popular on sunny days, and, for that true London feeling, there is a kiosk selling winkles in the small car park.

For walkers there is still a way to go to Lesnes Abbey unless, after a couple of pints and a visit to the Thames Barrier, you decide to call it a day and leave the ups and downs of some of the great South London parks for another day.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ 

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

Detours and Mis-directions

Walking 1066 Harold’s Way

Road sign

I am not sure who said that walking was easy.

Buy a map, plot a route, tie your loose change in the corner of your hankie, pack a bag with water, bars and sandwiches and catch the bus or train to the start.

Nowadays, you can even plot the route digitally, on your smart phone or GPS, with every turn mapped as the miles to walk count down.

Strolling along on a sunny day you check your phone and find ‘YOU ARE OFF ROUTE’ but where did you go wrong?

Blame the all the new builds between Greenwich and the O2 Arena – there should be a claim under the Trades Description Act as the path is so far from the Thames.

It is the stuff of nightmares and I would suggest the alternatives of catching the Thames Clipper from Greenwich to the O2 Arena or take the DLR to North Thames Station to start the days walk from the Dome. Walk the bit you have missed whenever the Thames Path is restored, although that may take a few years.

Walking the Thames Path – Greenwich to Lesnes Abbey and Abbey Wood

If you do want to walk, be prepared for a lengthy detour by building sites, along terraced streets and traffic filled roads with cars and lorries queuing for the Blackwall Tunnel and all highlighted an absence of temporary waymarks.

It all starts to go wrong just after Pelton Road (TQ 3901 7837) where the Thame Path is blocked by a wooden wall that guards a building site and forces you to turn right towards Banning Street.

Turn left at Banning Street and walk along to the end where the road bears right.

Left again into Christchurch Way and first right into Mauritius Road and at the end, turn left along the busy Blackwall Lane.

Continue past Telcon Way and Salutation Road to bear left towards the Blackwall Tunnel along Tunnel Avenue. On the approach to the tunnel entrance, just before the traffic island, is a surprisingly waymarked path left that leads back to the Thames Path.

This fenced in dusty path leads to the river and a wharf where the old rails for the cranes can still be seen on the path that leads  the way from all the industry and building to a more pleasant walk around the peninsular to the Thames Barrier.

On my hot day, looking for ways back to the river, it added at least 45 minutes to my walk and the only consolation was the discovery of the Meantime Brewery and Brewery Tap – but it was far too early to stop.

The rest of the walk went without a hitch with The Abbey Arms at Abbey Wood providing a welcome and surprisingly good end to the walk.

http://www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

Locked up and behind bars

The Railway Tavern, Staplehurst.

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It’s been three long years since the doors clanged shut and there has been no sign that the doors will reopen anytime soon. It would be terrible if the Railway was condemned.

Its criminal really, the Railway was just trying to make ends meet and give others a good time. You could understand if there had been an ASBO for bad behaviour but I’ve only heard good from the locals.

Granted at the end, before it was locked up, it was going through a sticky time (the floors needed a good clean) but the sentence has been far too harsh.

It should be recognised that being ‘Locked up and behind bars’ is not in the public interest and that The Railway Tavern should be released from its shackles.

The Railway was always a good end to a fine walk from Maidstone, through the beautiful Loose Valley and down from the ridge along the old Roman road, for a pint before the train or bus home but now the pub stands forlorn, just waiting for a little love and to open its doors once again.

It will be sadly missed by walkers past, present and future on 1066 Harold’s Way and it deserves this little ‘memoriam’ for all who drank in her and to treasure the memories of days that used to be.

Cheers, Railway, you deserve better.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ 

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

CAMRA WhatPub

Imagine Walking 1066 Harold’s Way

There can be no more emotive walk

Cover website

Click for You Tube Clip

We have just finished the 1066 Harold’s Way walk and are feeling very pleased with ourselves! We live near Battle and, having walked the 1066 country walk last year, we got the walking bug. We were really pleased to then find a copy of your 1066 Harold’s Way book in a shop in Battle and have really enjoyed the variety of the different sections, the industrial and social history along the Thames and the wildlife and different terrains along the way. Thank you so much for writing the book! Karen and Tim

I finished my walk in Battle last Friday, tired and feet a bit sore, but I feel so elated that I did it and the countryside was so beautiful. Your book is an inspiration and very interesting historically. Christine N

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk