If you've never been down to this area, the lands between Canterbury, Dover and Sandwich are well worth a visit as they treasure a huge variety of buildings, landscapes and communities. Through sleepy farming villages to redundant coal mining pits, across cricket grounds and manors to reach ancient standing mills, a determined Gary Coppins lead us on a circular walk with lots of things to see and do.
The starting point was Aylesham Railway Station and the staring time 10:30am; half an hour earlier than expected because of changes on the train timetables. So for avoiding confusion and frustration we had to split the group in two and while Gary would start heading to Goodnestone Park, John Pitcher would we waiting at the station for the ones that would have not seen the latest updates to arrive and try to catch the leading team later.
And the reunion didn't take long to happen as a stop after crossing a couple of fields to allow Chris Weller to explain the stories behind the miners in the area gave the delayed group the chance to catch up near Nonington. Kieran, our new member introduced himself, everybody was pleased to see each other again, all the drama clouds, if any, had vanished, so we just carried on.
From Nonington to Goodnestone the walk ran nice and smoothly and we got to the park where David Wright delighted us with the latest gossip about the Fitzwalter family. And what a pretty village Goodnestone is! Little brick cottages with arched windows and flowers everywhere... No doubt Goodnestone Park must have one of the best gardens in Kent.
We then headed to Staple for our lunch break across pretty open fields and some woodland carpeted in wild garlic. Richard Auckland and Erwin Herst seemed very keen on trying it in their salads so both had a good bunch to take home with them.
At Staple Kieran left us, he had to go home earlier... and he got lost. But how would we know it? Well, after leaving the village and its pub, as if appearing from nowhere there he is heading towards us... Ahhhh! A second reunion! Such an emotional walk! And all together we kept walking to Chillenden and its mill.
The building is a fine piece of craftsmanship and its tour guide gave us a very interesting tour and talk about its origin, its troubles in the past, and its current conservation after the gales knocked it down few years ago. I think everybody was pretty impressed and defying rotten steps and vertigo, everybody climbed it up to explore the bowels of the wooden beast.
And the rest of the walk? A gentle walk down the hills across the Bruderhof community to find ourselves back to Nonington and the fields where everything started.
Thanks to Gary, it was a magnificent and interesting walk, my only disappointment is he managed to avoid giving the free hugs I promised he would be giving!