England Summer 2013, Part 3


I mentioned walking.  We’ve done a lot of it so far this week.

Way more than I would normally do.

The kids and I love to do trips out – regular readers will know that we’ve been all over Kent – castles, houses, parks, gardens – we’ve pretty much exhausted it all.  Wracking my brains for new ideas, I came up with a cunning plan.

Chiselhurst Caves

Chiselhusrt Caves are entirely man made as a result of at least 800 years of quarrying the chalk (for lime) and flint (for making fire and also musket flint) in the hills.  It is thought that the quarrying may have been going on in the area for 8000 years – but it is difficult to prove other than circumstantial evidence – certainly Roman quarrying would have been possible.

The caves were heavily used during the second world war as bomb shelters and a chunk of the tour is dedicated to that.

Anyway – we trotted off to the caves and took a guided tour in a large group – was very entertaining and well worth it.  Lots of ghost and sacrifice stories were told, probably a load of baloney, but it was totally appropriate as we wound our way around a couple of miles of the pitch dark tunnels, guided by lamp light.

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After a quick bite to eat (in the caves cafe – a bit hit and miss, but very inexpensive) we drove back to a section of the North Downs in Kemsing that I know very well, having walked almost every inch in my youth.  The Pilgrims Way winds through the countryside here – its an ancient trackway dating back to the stone age but used more recently (from 12th to 16th Centuries as a track for the Pilgrimage from Winchester (the resting place of St Swithin) in the south to the major religious site (second only to Rome) of Canterbury Cathedral in the eastern part of Kent.

It’s changed a little since I last went back actually – a lot more overgrown at the bottom of the hill than it used to be, so I thought we’d got lost for a bit as we took a narrow path through the trees, but no, it was fine!

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I wanted to show them the beautiful chalk grassland meadows and take in the views from the top.  Henry was a bit whiney at the thought of climbing a steep hill after a morning of cave exploring, but he got into it pretty quickly.  It’s so beautiful.

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The grassland is actively managed with winter grazing to remove small trees and stuff and promoting the re-seeding of the meadow in the spring.  It’s very beautiful and chock full of wildlife – never seen so many butterflies

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We made our way up to the next level of the hill – a tiny hidden path leads you up to a bench at the top of a very steep hill (that I used to toboggan down when it snowed) where the views are perfect.  I could (and have in the past) sat up there all day.

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Back home again, the cousins were still there – so more playing.    The kids were shattered at the end of the day!!

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Next up – London.

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2 Comments on “England Summer 2013, Part 3

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