Monday, 19 January 2009

Roaming along the Greensand Way Day 9 Sutton Valence - Pluckley

Young Offender's Dahlias
Generally September is the best month of the year to go hiking as it is dry underfoot and the weather is pretty reliable without the heat of August. I managed a second day out on the Way at the end of the month, completing another pretty easy section through the orchards of Kent. Even though only three weeks had passed since my last trip, the change in season was well underway with most of the apples now cropped and fields ploughed. The trees were mostly still green although there was a definite change of colour.

East Sutton Village Sign
Sutton Valence had proved to be an easy place to park so I headed there first, leaving the public transport bit to the end. The village itself is quite interesting, with a ruined castle in the centre of the village and some attractive old buildings and would be worth some time exploring. The Greensand Way largely by-passes the centre of the village and heads out through the orchards at the top of the ridge.

Ulcombe Church
After a mile or so, I passed the attractive church of St Peter and St Paul at East Sutton. There was a buzz of activity as several of the congregation were getting ready for the harvest festival and I was invited in to have a look around. I took one look at my muddy boots and politely declined since I didn’t want to make a mess when they were working so hard!

Foxton Sheep
Next door to the church was a young offender’s institute. All was quiet although I did admire their magnificent dahlia display at the entrance. This was obviously someone’s pet project to keep the miscreants out of trouble! The path then headed out across fields and there was a fine view of the now diminished ridge stretching away into the distance.

Egerton House
The path passed by yet another church at Ulcombe, which was hiding behind a large yew hedge. The church was some distance from the village which nestled in a hollow in the clay vale below.
Egerton Pub

From here it was back to orchards for some considerable distance. As most of the apple harvest was now complete the overriding memory of the day was the smell of rotting apples! Thankfully there weren’t too many wasps about although it must have been ideal territory. Maybe they were drunk on the cider-like fumes!

Egerton Village Sign
The path continued to skip from village to village along this part of the ridge and the next was Liverton Street, presumably built to serve the impressive looking Boughton Place, a further half mile along the way. This apparently is only a small part of the original house, with the rest being left to ruin over the years.

Elmstone Hole
Here there was a break from orchards, but initially not a welcome one as I reached a freshly ploughed field, with the path being taken away. This created a rather unwanted obstacle, although luckily it wasn’t wet enough to cause too many problems. A passed through some woodland and up a flight of steps to reach another impressive house at Egerton. The village of Egerton, a little further beyond had a very impressive church although this was sadly bathed in scaffolding.

Shipland Ridge
Egerton had a village shop and a nice looking clapperboard pub, which would make for a good lunch stop. The path left the ridge for a short while and headed out across the clay vale once again to the village of Pluckley, famous for the location of ‘The Darling Buds of May’ and reputedly the most haunted village in England. I didn’t hang around in Pluckley as the weather had turned by now and I was anxious to get to Pluckley station to get the next train. The station is almost two miles from the village and can be reached by a ‘link’ route that is waymarked. However, the path is clearly not used anything like as often as the main route as I came across some overgrown sections and the waymarking was patchy. Transport back to the car was easy. I took the train to Headcorn and from there the bus back to Sutton Valence, which left from the front of the station. This section of the route is easy, with few hills, some attractive villages and a lot of orchards!

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