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

CAMRA WhatPub

The Woodcock

Need more walkers to save the pubs

Brian’s daughter bought him the 1066 Harold’s Way guidebook some time ago and he has recently been having days out following the route. This is one of his valuable comments.

Dear David

I have now got as far as Sandhurst and was most impressed by the Loose Valley an area that I had not previously visited but further on there was a particularly difficult section.

Walk 7 Loose

Loose Village

At the bottom of page 103 the advice is to ‘follow the waymarked path through the trees and between the ponds’ but unfortunately this path is totally overgrown with nettles, brambles etc. It is only a short section before the horse grazing area is reached but it is virtually impassable. I did eventually manage to battle my way through and I think that I still have one or two scars to prove it! Something needs to be done about that section of path. However having said all that the route through The Weald has been most enjoyable.

Sadly the pub scene has deteriorated since the book was published. Only the Leather Bottle of the three pubs in Cobham was still functioning and a similar story at Staplehurst with only the Kings Head still open and the Hop Bine at Knox Bridge has also closed.

Fortunately the Lord Raglan was still up and running and the Woodcock which I thought was a real gem. As you are probably aware the Bull at Sissinghurst is now known as the Milk House.

I am not sure yet when I will be doing the final section to Battle but am looking forward to the pint in the Abbey Hotel!

Regards Brian

Dear Brian

The Loose Valley is superb, a real gem so close to Maidstone but it is sad about the pubs closing with The Railway Tavern, Staplehurst a particular loss being so convenient for the Station and we were always made to feel very welcome. They say it is ‘awaiting a new tenant’ so there is always hope.

Looking forward to meeting you in Battle.

Regards

David

Walk 10 Battle Abbey

Battle Abbey

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

Saturday 22nd February 2014

Well the weather held for most of the day  – beautiful sunshine with intermittent clouds – ground conditions were still soggy though but that was what I expected.

Time was short so I bypassed ‘The Milk House’, ‘The Woodcock’ and repaired to the tried and trusted ‘Railway Tavern’ at Staplehurst where, again, I was made most welcome.

Vince

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The recommendation is ‘Do not pick up an Adder’ – most referrals are because the public picked up Britain’s only venomous snake and unsurprisingly got bitten. Leave them alone and they will leave you alone.