Saturday, January 5, 2008

Swanley to Cobham

Not a good night. Next to the shared bathroom, I am aware of a constant stream – if that's the word – of night visitors. Who are these invisible men ? Polish workers ?

But this has been a much better day. Footpaths and narrow lanes, better weather, my own itinerary, and no real hesitations.

After breakfast in Asda at 8.30 – Spanish orange juice, croissant, fresh fruit salad and Earl Grey – I set off down the hill at 9, encouraged by the prospect of sunshine on the distant hills. At last, only now did I feel that I'd left London behind me.

Birds fly up as I start across the fields. Distance does not lend Swanley any enchantment. I walked eagerly under the M25. It was not clear how to proceed out of Ram's Wood, but it worked out, though I did miss the station. For most of the day, I was following the railway line that eventually, on Sunday, I shall take on my return by train.

I found the journey much easier with a good map. I paused beside a lovely stream in Darenth. In Longfield for lunch, I found the Railway Arms lacking in atmosphere, but they promptly provided a cheese and tomato bap [Pringles and salad] and Courage Best. The church looked very interesting, but once again turned out to be locked.

Today's walk was mostly roads and lanes, with no footpath often. At the point where my route crossed the Weald Way long distance path, I chatted with a local man out walking his dog. Twenty minutes to Cobham, he guessed optimistically. Later, walking some distance behind me, he rescued my hat [plucked from my backpack by bushes as I made way for a passing car]. The second time I've lost it. Yesterday a red-haired young man in Swanley saved as it fell onto a pedestrian crossing.

Jeskyn's is now a Forestry Commission nature trail, very popular on this sunny Saturday afternoon.

Today's walk has had a lot of ups and downs, and Cobham reserved a last hill approach, past the National Trust property towards the Church and the Leather Bottle opposite.

I reached reception about 15.20, to an efficient welcome. Very Dickensian, slightly shabby and faded, but full of character. I've tried the power shower in the vast en-suite bathroom, struggled to get a signal on the mobile, taken a walk up the main street, but found nothing. No street lights, another pub, the Darnley Arms. Managed to miss the most interesting building, Cobham College, behind the church, now an alms house.

No comments: