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West Kent – Doddington & Otterden – 4th July, 2021

"In my experience," opined former GOC chairman David W. between showers, "it's always worth turning up, whether bad weather is forecast or not." Whitean optimism certainly held good for this walk, for whilst there were three torrential downpours, each was extremely brief and easily fended-off with decent waterproofs (and a couple of umbrellas). There was also plenty of sunshine around, including for lunch which we had at remarkable Otterden, the currently-empty ancient mansion of the Wheler family, remembered for Rev. Granville Wheler's experiments in the 1700s into the conductivity of electricity (silken threads attached to parts of footmen etc.).

If the first mile of the route was dullish - prairie and pylons (no silken threads on those I fancy) - it soon improved with a charming secluded valley and a curious folly at lonely Lady Margaret Manor, formerly home to a fruitarian community and later a YHA youth hostel. We also passed along the trackbed of one of the 20th century Granville Wheler's bits of private railway, and in the afternoon down an engaging semi-hidden wooded trail a couple of miles long, where sun after the rain brought out scores of huge Roman snails.

At the end some of us opted for tea in Doddington Place gardens, the quality of which passed muster with two afternoon-tea connoisseurs among our number, who had the previous day had tea at Brighton's Grand Hotel (mortgage required). The remainder plumped for a drink at the Chequers in the village. Thanks to all who appeared despite moisture!.

Nick N.

Photos supplied by Roy Fuller-Green.


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