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

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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

A Last Few Goodbyes

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Rotherhithe, July 1620

Men women and children clamouring excitedly waiting to board ship, their usual demeanour forgotten in the face of persecution and the opportunity for a new beginning.

What few possessions they owned were already loaded and as the tide rose, the ship creaked and rocked in the water and a few goodbyes were made as the last of the 65 passengers boarded.

Rotherhithe was the Mayflower’s home port and she had been carrying wine from the continent but, curiously and unusual for a ship trading to London, there was no record of any voyages of Captain Jones’s Mayflower from 1616. Such a ship would not usually disappear from the records for such a long time and one wonders what cargo she had been running but in any event, Captain Jones found time to take these Pilgrims to the New World.

Other ships lined the wharves, loading and unloading cargo and the noise of men and carts and horses, oaths shouted, orders given and the smell of the Thames would almost be the last that these people would remember of their capital, although they would have a final stop at Plymouth before fleeing England.

Next to where the Mayflower lay was The Shippe, a beer house, ignored by the Brethren for they did not drink, but much enjoyed by sailors and traders. Deals were done in the small dark candlelit rooms, buying and selling who knows what in this remote wharf, downstream from London Bridge and the city. Beyond the few houses that made up Rotherhithe were streams and marshes that drained into the great river and it would not be until the end of the century that great man-made docks would begin to be built that would transform the riverside.

Eventually, after being rebuilt in the 18th and 20th centuries and renamed The Mayflower, the pub remains a lure for regulars and visitors and for walkers along the Thames Path and 1066 Harold’s Way.

Image result for mayflower pub images 

There are still small rooms, wooden floors and tables were the day’s events can be readily discussed but now the sunlight streams through the windows and those dark days can only be imagined.

Walk 1066 Harold’s Way to one of London’s great pubs and share in its history.

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

http://www.mayflowerpub.co.uk/

https://whatpub.com/pubs/SEL/10711/mayflower-rotherhithe

Walk Ten Miles, One Day A Month

Books

Walking 100 miles miles may appear a little daunting but breaking it down into easy bites makes it all the more achievable.

Put Walk 1, Westminster Abbey to Greenwich, in your diary for January and start your march to Battle.

That first section is along the Thames Path with some great pubs along the way and the train back to London at the finish.

Full walking and history notes are contained in the 1066 Harold’s Way guidebook to help you on your walk – available fro Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and other good bookshops or by mail order from History Walks.

Make 2017 your ‘1066 Harold’s Way’ year.

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk

Be part of the Legend

Route Map Poster

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.

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.

You too can follow in King Harold’s footsteps, along his most likely route to the Battle of Hastings, by walking 1066 Harold’s Way, a walk that starts at Westminster Abbey and finishes at Battle Abbey, East Sussex.

You can be part of the legend of King Harold II.

Accessible by public transport, there is nothing to stop you sharing the experience of 1066 Harold’s Way, through London, Kent and East Sussex.

The guidebook for this 100mile long distance walk is readily available from Waterstones, Amazon, Foyles and other bookshops.

1066 Harold’s Way

A Walk through Kent and Sussex

 

THREE CASTLES AND AN  IRONMASTER’S HOUSE

3Cs Cover

A 5O MILE CIRCULAR WALK AROUND THE HIGH WEALD OF KENT AND EAST SUSSEX, INSPIRED BY STORIES OF CASTLES, FOLLIES, SMUGGLING, IRON, CAPTAIN SWING AND A VENGEFUL DRAGON.

Available in 1066 Country from

British Design British Made, Battle

AHA, Battle

St Leonards Central, St Leonards on Sea

Hastings History House, Hastings

The Bookkeeper, Kings Road, St Leonards on Sea

Hastings Tourist Information

Available nationally from

Amazon

Waterstones

Foyles

Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House is published by Bretwalda Books.

Three Castles and an Ironmaster’s House

New Release

Looking for a great walk this year, then try this new route, written by the author of 1066 Harold’s Way, that will take you to some of the most beautiful scenery in Kent and Sussex.

3Cs Cover

Available now from Amazon, Waterstones, Foyles and many other bookshops

Publisher: Bretwalda Books (14 May 2015)

ISBN-10: 1910440051

Price: £9.99

Summary

Discover ancient woodland, peaceful villages and enjoy the spectacular views of the High Weald Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty in this 50 mile circular walk that links four great National Trust properties: Bodiam Castle, Sissinghurst Castle, Scotney Castle and Bateman’s.

They provide the inspiration to enjoy the High Weald and its unique cultural heritage, history and industry. Imagine a rolling countryside with few houses, a seemingly quiet landscape of great woods, trickling streams and remote country pubs.

This was once the heart of England’s iron industry but the furnace fires have long gone and the works of man have returned to farming. There are tales of smugglers and Mechanical riots, Napoleon’s horse and aliens in Robertsbridge.

But be careful when you walk for there’s a ‘vengeful dragon’ about in Angley Wood.

Website

www.1066haroldsway.co.uk