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History Walks Talks and Books

More than just footsteps on a path



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History Walks, Talks and Books – More than just footsteps on a Path.

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The Discerning Walker’s Must Have Accompaniment

Pub Guide to 1066 Harold’s Way

Secret Santa Pub Guide v2This guide is what walkers have been waiting for since 1066 Harold’s Way was first published in 2013 – the definitive guide to all those watering holes along the 100 miles from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, East Sussex that now includes the final ten miles to Hastings Castle.

Of course, if these inns and pubs had been open 950 years ago who knows what might have happened. Certainly, the march may have taken a little longer and those battle-hardened reinforcements would have been in position to defeat Duke William and the Normans. Fired up on ‘Spitfire’, ‘Bombardier’ or ‘Harvey’s Best’ they could have taken on the world – or fallen asleep on Caldbec Hill.

Just following this Pub Guide is worth the walk from Westminster Abbey. LOOK INSIDE


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More than just footsteps on a path – History Walks, Talks and Books

This General Has Been Demoted To The Ranks

The Havelock


It is now just the Havelock, the General has been demoted back to the ranks although the ranks did appear to be enjoying singing to the juke box and watching the horse racing on one of the many TVs.

Refreshed and re-opened, this renowned heritage pub has an updated appearance that belies its history and thankfully, the Grade 2 listed and protected tiled pictures that make up one wall have been preserved.

In some ways, the Havelock is more luxurious with its light coloured paint, comfy chairs, carpets and wooden flooring but it is early days and with beer at £2.50 a pint, that pristine gloss may soon disappear.

Thankfully for me, there was an alternative to the lager offerings of the two T-bars and the Doomed on handpump in the excellent Tim Taylor’s Landlord. A pint to enjoy with time to savour the tiled picture of the Battle of Hastings.

8.30pm on a Tuesday night was perhaps not the best time to visit the Havelock for a quiet pint, during the day might be better but those tiled wall pictures and the Tim Taylors were worth the visit.

In the fifteen years that I have lived in Hastings, ownership of this historic pub has changed more than once, and it has been closed two or three times with landlords struggling for profitability amidst rising town centre rents. If a juke box, TVs, a fruit machine and a weekly meat raffle keep the old General alive then I will be happy to include this new Havelock in ‘Beer Notes’ and in ‘Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards’.

Follow this link to read my original Blog posted in 2017

The Havelock appears in ‘Pub Walks in Hastings and St Leonards’ and in the soon to be published

Beer Notes to ‘Capital to Coast, the Guide to Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’.

This pub guide is a ‘must have’ accompaniment for the discerning walker on ‘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 Havelock will be No 64 and the final entry in the Beer Notes Guide.


‘The clean and commodious village ale house’

The Leather Bottle (33)

Cobham Leather Bottle 3

Cobham will always suffer in that it is far too early in the walk to Rochester to stop for a drink or food. However, visiting the historic church and a look over the church wall at the New College took up enough time to enter The Leather Bottle when it opened at 11.30 and marvel at all the Dicken’s memorabilia on display that cover the walls of every room with Pickwick and Edwin Drood taking centre stage.

Dickens called the Leather Bottle ‘the clean and commodious village ale house’ in which stayed the love-lorn Mr Tracy Tupman of the Pickwick Papers after his rejection by Rachel Wardle.

The inn is said to have acquired its name when, about 1720, a leather-bound bottle containing gold sovereigns was found on the premises. At 11.30 in the morning, the Leather Bottle is largely empty of all the visitors and tourists that come to eat, for almost all the tables are set for food – it is after all, the archetypal English Country Inn of undoubted age, black beams, leaded windows and history. At that time in the morning, I had a coffee but Tim Taylor’s Landlord, Black Sheep and Leather Bottle Best were on offer for those in need of something a little stronger on the way to Rochester.

Distance from path:       On 1066 Harold’s Way

Food: Yes  Accommodation: Yes

54-56 The Street, Cobham, Gravesend. DA12 3BZ        Tel: 01474 814 327

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 Leather Bottle will be No 33 in Beer Notes


The Leather Bottle

Temptation: The Woodcock Flies Again

IMG_20190719_124745 (1).jpg

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


The Woodcock


1066 Harold’s Way is a long distance walk inspired by King Harold’s epic march to the Battle of Hastings, 1066.

100 miles from Westminster Abbey to Battle Abbey, East Sussex to be walked in ten easy stages although King Harold’s men took three days to reach their camp at Caldbec Hill with a camp at Rochester and another possibly at Bodiam by the upper reaches of the Appledore Estuary.

Soldier runningAstonishingly impressive then was the feat of the runners who completed the distance, over the weekend of 6th and 7th July, the fastest of whom ran the 100+ miles in 22 hours with the remaining runners finishing in the next 8 hours.

The largely followed the route of 1066 Harold’s Way with the finish line set at the gates of Battle Abbey and as I watched the runners finish their amazing runs, I was not entirely convinced that this modern army would be ready to face the might of Duke William’s men camped across the valley at Telham Hill. Perhaps it would be enough to battle the A21 and Southeastern Trains on the way home.

Congratulations to all the runners who took part on what proved to be a very tough course and made the event a success and to all the support along the route.

My special thanks to Richard Weremiuk and Mark Cockbain of Beyond Marathon Ltd, who organised the event and who have added such great value to 1066 Harold’s Way through waymarking the whole route for the 1066 runners and for the benefit of all future walkers.

If you missed the race this year, there is always next year for the promises to be an annual event.

Of course, it is not compulsory to run 1066 Harold’s Way – the route can be walked in those ten easy stages, enjoying the views and the pubs and that special sense of history that is outlined in ‘The Guide to Walking 1066 Harold’s Way’, available by mail order from History Walks.

History Walks                

Beyond Marathon Ltd   

Not too far and not too long

Share in the history of 1066 and the night before the Battle of Hastings with walks to King Harold’s Camp on Caldbec Hill, Duke William’s camp on Telham Hill and to the infamous site of the ‘Malfosse’, the Saxons last ditch attempt to defeat the Norman horde.

Book 2 Cover new


 These two walks form a figure of eight that is designed to allow a little recovery time from the magnificent views and the sometimes steep terrain around Battle.

They also form the ideal basis for two short Pub Walks with Walk 1 finishing at either The Kings Head or The Bull and Walk 2 completed with a pint at either The Senlac (handy for the station), The Chequers or The Abbey.

Catch the train or bus home and it would be the perfect end for a couple of perfect weekend walks around Battle.

History Walks Talks and Books by David Clarke

More than just Footsteps on a Path.

For more information visit:

Imagine Walking 1066 Harold’s Way

There can be no more emotive walk

Cover website

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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


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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