Crinkle, Crankle!

1066 Harold’s Way Walk 4

Dartford to Istead Rise

Dartford is 1066 Harold’s Way gateway to the Downs and the Weald.

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Crossing Watling Street, now Dartford’s High Street, we can say our goodbyes to London. Away from the River Darent, 1066 Harold’s Way climbs up to give a first taste of the North Downs and the beautiful views south over the Darent Valley and west along the line of the Downs towards Surrey. There is just the hint of a hidden population amidst the rolling hills and valleys, lush fields and rows of trees, as far as the eye can see.

The landscape changes as we pass under the A2 and then the M25 and the noise of the traffic gives way to the solitude of a church built from the rubble of a Roman villa 1000 years ago. It stood as Harold passed. This is old Saxon land that we are walking and Harold would have drawn support here, and on the rest of the march, for his important battle ahead.

For Harold and his army, there were only 12½ miles to march to Rochester but our quiet meanderings, away from speeding Motorway traffic, will add another 6 miles to the journey.

It is good to walk across grassland, by paddocks and fields of crops, through woods and country parks, past the occasional farm and into villages that were once prosperous but seem to have now lost their heart, with the closure of pub, post office and shop.

Despite the changes, their character still remains, from the quarry houses of Bean to the ‘crinkle crankle’ wall at Betsham.

Southfleet is different. It is old with a long history and equally important an old pub, ‘The Ship’, to savour 1066 Harold’s Way.

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Southfleet is in stark contrast to the ‘new’ village of Istead Rise with its estates, shops and important bus links but it is without a pub to provide a toast at the end of the walk.

Watch ‘Memories of 1066 Harold’s Way on You Tube

Link: The Ship, Southfleet

1066 Harold’s Way is available from Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles as well as good book shops and by mail order from www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

For details of how to buy: Click Here

Walks, Talks and Books

from

History Walks, 1066 Harold’s Way and The Saxon Times

Web: www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

Wild and Desolate

1066 Harold’s Way Walk 3: Lesnes Abbey to Dartford

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This is a mixture of the wild and desolate and the urban and industrial, of old paths and new roads, old bridges and new bridges, meandering rivers and canals built in hope, Saxon Manors and concrete architecture. We pass the detritus of modern urban and industrial re-development and the solitude of a Church that figured in history during King John’s reign.

It is a walk that reflects the dreams of men and often their failure, from the monks of Lesnes Abbey who fought to hold back the Thames to the navigators and entrepreneurs of Dartford, building a ship canal that could not cope with the pressure of the tide.

Erith belies its history and its royal connections. Once it shaped England with a Council between King John and the Barons to avoid further civil war and a French invasion. Later, it was to build ‘the greatest ship ever known’, the ship that took Henry VIIIth to France, to ‘the Field of the Cloth of Gold’. Now it is a modern town with little of the past on show. Its closeness to the Thames has left it with factories and depots obscuring the river but Erith leads to the wilderness of the Cray Marshes with the QE2 Bridge soaring above the landscape. Even with power stations, breakers yards and flood defences there is still a beauty about this salt marsh.

The land has been farmed for centuries and at a curve in the River Darent, a path leads to Howbury Manor, less than half a mile away and mentioned in the Domesday Book. It would have stood at the time of Harold and with the Roman road only 1½ miles to the south – perhaps Harold dropped in for a ‘beer or a wine’ with the owner.

Follow the Darent to Dartford with its industrial heritage of paper production and engineering. Although the factories and paper mills have gone under the breakers ball there is now space for new dreams to be fulfilled and the herald of a new age for Dartford.

1066 Harold’s Way is a 100mile long distance walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, East Sussex, inspired by King Harold II’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings 1066. The guidebook is available from good bookshops, Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and by mail order from History Walks.

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

Walking Towards Southfleet

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It is such an English scene with a dusty path leading towards the Church. Beside the church stands  a small row of timber framed cottages path that lead to the village pub, The Ship. A walker’s dream

All the walks and all the photographs of 1066 Harold’s Way that I have taken over the years, all have their own special memories and a unique quality that encapsulates the experiences of walking 1066 Harold’s Way. From the photographs I have created a series of posters that reflect all that is good about walking 1066 Harold’s Way.

For those who have already walked all or part of 1066 Harold’s Way, I hope that they will bring back memories for you. For those of you who have yet to experience the walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, I hope that these photographs will show you what is in store for you along the way, in this anniversary year, after all we will be celebrating 950 years since the Battle of Hasting was fought on Senlac Hill.

David

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

Reflections

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It’s Dartford Jim but not as we know it.

From the bustle of Dartford, through the green of Central Park with joggers and walkers and children playing to the lakes at Brooklands and the serenity of a quiet and still day. Perfect.

All the walks and all the photographs of 1066 Harold’s Way that I have taken over the years, all have their own special memories and a unique quality that encapsulates the experiences of walking 1066 Harold’s Way. From the photographs I have created a series of posters that reflect all that is good about walking 1066 Harold’s Way.

For those who have already walked all or part of 1066 Harold’s Way, I hope that they will bring back memories for you. For those of you who have yet to experience the walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, I hope that these photographs will show you what is in store for you along the way, in this anniversary year, after all we will be celebrating 950 years since the Battle of Hasting was fought on Senlac Hill.

David

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

A Mad March Day, The Wilderness of Cray Marshes

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Big skies, the long grasses rustle in the breeze, a hint of rain and a welcome relief from an industrial Erith.

All the walks and all the photographs of 1066 Harold’s Way that I have taken over the years, all have their own special memories and a unique quality that encapsulates the experiences of walking 1066 Harold’s Way. From the photographs I have created a series of posters that reflect all that is good about walking 1066 Harold’s Way.

For those who have already walked all or part of 1066 Harold’s Way, I hope that they will bring back memories for you. For those of you who have yet to experience the walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, I hope that these photographs will show you what is in store for you along the way, in this anniversary year, after all we will be celebrating 950 years since the Battle of Hasting was fought on Senlac Hill.

David

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

The River Thames at Erith

Walk 3 Poster 2 Erith mud

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All shadows and glistening mud revealed by low tide and a big blue sky.

All the walks and all the photographs of 1066 Harold’s Way that I have taken over the years, all have their own special memories and a unique quality that encapsulates the experiences of walking 1066 Harold’s Way. From the photographs I have created a series of posters that reflect all that is good about walking 1066 Harold’s Way.

For those who have already walked all or part of 1066 Harold’s Way, I hope that they will bring back memories for you. For those of you who have yet to experience the walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, I hope that these photographs will show you what is in store for you along the way, in this anniversary year, after all we will be celebrating 950 years since the Battle of Hasting was fought on Senlac Hill.

David

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

An August Day on Lesnes Heath

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The scent of the heather rose to fill the air on this hot day – I could have been on the Derbyshire moors instead of South East London, just a handful of miles from the Shard.

All the walks and all the photographs of 1066 Harold’s Way that I have taken over the years, all have their own special memories and a unique quality that encapsulates the experiences of walking 1066 Harold’s Way. From the photographs I have created a series of posters that reflect all that is good about walking 1066 Harold’s Way.

For those who have already walked all or part of 1066 Harold’s Way, I hope that they will bring back memories for you. For those of you who have yet to experience the walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, I hope that these photographs will show you what is in store for you along the way, in this anniversary year, after all we will be celebrating 950 years since the Battle of Hasting was fought on Senlac Hill.

David

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk