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

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

Walk to Battle

Map d3Imagine 1066, the Battle of Hastings and King Harold’s epic journey to his date with destiny.

The 14th October 1066 is one of the most emotive dates in English history and Harold’s march to the Battle of Hastings is part of our heritage.

This 100 mile long distance walk starts from Westminster Abbey and finishes at Battle Abbey, East Sussex and is an opportunity to discover and explore, in easy stages and fully accessible by public transport, the beautiful countryside of Kent and East Sussex .

Add William’s Way to your journey and walk from the River Thames to the English Channel to finish at Hastings Castle.

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

Dreaming

Tube new

Imagine 1066, the Battle of Hastings and King Harold’s epic journey to his date with destiny.

Imagine being part of King Harold’s army, did it rain, was it dry? Three days of marching, the nights were drawing in, the noise, the fear and a battle to face – a camp at Rochester, a camp at Bodiam and a final climb to Caldbec Hill.

For the 14th October 1066 is one of the most emotive dates in English history and Harold’s march to the Battle of Hastings is the stuff of legends.

Follow in King Harold’s footsteps, along the probable route to the Battle of Hastings, a walk that starts at Westminster Abbey and finishes at Battle Abbey, East Sussex.

Be part of 1066 Harold’s Way – the start of your adventure.

For more information, visit www.1066haroldsway .co.uk

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.

Walk 4 v2a

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.

Walk 4 v1

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

Erith.jpg

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