Temptation: The Woodcock Flies Again

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Temptation, that desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise. It can also suggest that it can be a thing that attracts or tempts someone suggesting enticement, seduction, a draw or a pull or equally an invitation.

And that to me sums up The Woodcock, a walk leaders’ nightmare, the pub that no one wants to leave.

But it closed in 2018 and appeared doomed, never to fly again but like a phoenix it has arisen again and it re-opened its doors in April 2019.

On 1066 Harold’s Way, there are still 6 miles to walk to Bodiam Castle, uphill and down dale and across the Kent Ditch. King Harold and his men walked this stretch but The Woodcock wasn’t open then. And when planning Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House, I made sure that the route passed The Woodcock after all, I get to choose the route.

The good and righteous of Iden Green realised what a draw the pub would be and banished it a mile away from the village, down a narrow country lane that led to Dingleden but the villagers I spoke to know the back way – just 5 minutes down this path and on the route of 1066 Harold’s Way, and I followed their admission.

The 2019 version of The Woodcock has been refreshed rather than altered beyond recognition. A couple of walls have disappeared, some of the nooks and crannies have gone, the new bar is sleek and bright, the fire is lit and the floors levelled ready for the success that eluded the Woodcock of old.

Once it felt like an old and comfortable pair of slippers where the slightly dark atmosphere and the warmth of the fire and the conviviality of old men at the bar promised times past until Greene King’s accountants became the owners.

Mind your heads, the beams are low there’s a fire lit and on warm days, there is a garden to enjoy. It is a free house again and beers are Cellar Head Amber, Long Man Best, Harveys Best, all on handpump and well kept.

There is still an old world feel but it is without ornamentation and just a little of that old warmth that catered for the mind, body and spirit has gone – perhaps a wider market beckons for The Woodcock although a television was being screwed to the wall as I left!

But, lunchtime on an Autumn day, sitting around the fire, talking amongst friends, it will still prove hard to leave and continue the walk to Bodiam Castle.

Beer Notes will be published in 2019 as a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’ – the long distance walk from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey and Hastings Castle inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings 1066. The Woodcock  will be No 49 in Beer Notes

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

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The Woodcock

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Walk 1 Robertsbridge to Benenden

Wednesday 29th April 2015

Distance: 11 miles

With Mark missing just one walk, this walk, to complete this 50 mile circular walk and receive his certificate, it was only fair that I should walk with him after all he had travelled down all the way from Derby. Similarly, Judy and Daphne missed last year so it was a small and select band that gathered at Robertsbridge with dogs Poppy and Shadow.

True to form, the weather forecast was poor with heavy rain scheduled from around 1pm and the occasional shower in between. Waterproofed against these forecast elements we set off along the lane beside The Seven Stars to cross the A21 to walk to Salehurst.

For the first time, the church was open and I managed to photograph the famed ‘Salamander’ font believed to have been donated by Richard I. The salamanders around the base are now almost worn smooth but the outline can still be seen. There is much history to discover about this large church. Outside, the sheep have yet to do their mowing but gates were still left closed behind us.

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Next was a new route to Bodiam Castle, negotiated with little difficulty and as thye sun came out it was getting a little warm.

There was a drinks stop at Bodiam Castle but be warned, the ticket office has now be moved astride the path and over-zealous staff give you the third degree, supposedly checking that you are members and need to show your cards or pay to visit the Castle. It is a public footpath and the National Trust have confirmed that they respect this Public Right of Way and it should not be a problem for walkers. I think that there needs to be some re-training for the ticket office staff on how to deal with walkers using the PRoW.

The former Appledore Estuary restored spirits and we made Sandhurst just after 1 pm, bang on schedule and ate our picnic by the War Memorial. Was that rain? Daphne suggested a coffee in The Swan and we all readily agreed but Mark was persuaded by the Harvey’s Best and I was too as the rain came down outside.

It is a good pub and there is always a warm welcome from Juliet Porter.

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What rain? We’d missed it all and continued the walk past the windmill, through orchards, vineyards and hopfields to Iden Green and Benenden.

Mark received his certificate at The Bull, Benenden with stickers given out for Walk 1.

Thank you Daphne, Judy and Mark, Poppy and Shadow, for a good walk.

Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House

St Mary’s, Salehurst

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The Bull Benenden

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The Swan Sandhurst

The Woodcock, Iden Green

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Temptation

That desire to do something, especially something wrong or unwise.

It can also suggest that it can be a thing that attracts or tempts someone suggesting enticement, seduction, a draw or a pull or equally an invitation.

And that to me sums up The Woodcock, a walk leaders nightmare, the pub that no one wants to leave. Believe me it is that good.

And the good and righteous of Iden Green realised what a draw the pub would be and banished it out a mile away from the village down a narrow country lane but the villagers I spoke to know the back way – just 5 minutes down this path and I followed their admission.

On 1066 Harold’s Way, there are still 6 miles to walk to Bodiam Castle, up hill and down dale and across the Kent Ditch. King Harold and his men walked this stretch but The Woodcock wasn’t open then.

And when planning Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House, I made sure that the route passed The Woodcock after all, I get to choose the route.

IMGP2131Mind your heads, the beams are low and on cold days there’s a fire lit and on warm days, there is the garden to enjoy.

The usual Greene King IPA and Abbot with Morland and a guest, all on handpump and well kept. More often than not, one of Goacher’s beers has been the special.

I can vouch for the food – excellent and the Raspberry Pavlova is to die for but that was not on a walking day.

Lunchtime, on an Autumn day, sitting around the fire, talking amongst friends, savouring the atmosphere, those doubts creep in but be strong continue the walk for The Woodcock will be there for another day.

The Woodcock is just one of the many excellent pubs and inns on 1066 Harold’s Way and Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House – more to follow.

1066 Harold’s Way

Walk 9 Sissinghurst to Bodiam Castle

Sandhurst Primary School – Authorised Diversion

The final approach to Sandhurst Primary School is now subject to an authorised diversion.

The original Right of Way led directly in front of the school buildings and across the playground which I must admit was disconcerting for the school, the children and walkers.

The new route takes the path around the school playing fields and across the school car park into School Lane and is the continuation of the path from Iden Green to Sandhurst, pages 116 and 118 as shown by the revised walk instructions and the new route on the planning map.

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