Statistics: 15.8 miles, ascent 1310′, descent 1533′.
Our host, Miranda, prepared a bountiful breakfast for us and provided some snacks for our lunch. As we were leaving she introduced us to her small, cute, cart ponies. This day was to be a crisp, lovely, Spring morning on the Downs and we would experience woodlands, meadows and beautiful views.
At one point, as we were admiring the view, we realized that we could just make out Chevening House, a large, 17th-century country house. (Picture below: see beige building partially hidden by trees to the right of the brick building in
The trail kept us high on the hillside as we walked above the valley.
In order to cross over the M25, we had to descend from the Downs’ peaceful woodlands and work our way down a trail overgrown with the remains of spring growth.
The NDW’s trail took us along the Darent Valley Path to the busy, very attractive
Enjoying the ambiance of the town, we sat outside while savoring our tea and cake. A farmer’s market was in full swing a block away and the streets were filled with locals. Just up the street from where we sat was the focal point of this charming little town, a roundabout which surrounded a duck pond complete with a floating duck house. This pond gained national recognition in 2014 when it won the National Roundabout of the Year award!
Otford has as one of its attractions the ruins of Otford Palace, also know as an Archbishop’s Palace. The Church of England’s Archbishop Warham enlarged and updated the castle in 1515, intending it to be on a par with London’s Hampton Court, the residence of the Catholic Cardinal Wolsey, the Pope’s personal representative to the English court. Henry VIII visited this castle with Catherine of Aragon in 1520. After Henry VIII took over the Church of England in 1534, he forced the Archbishop of Canterbury, Thomas Cranmer, to surrender it to the crown in 1537. Interesting stuff. Unfortunately, it was allowed to fall into ruin after Henry died.
After a most enjoyable interlude, we resumed our trek. The cottages that we encountered as we left Otford were an English treat.
After quite a climb we arrived at Otford Mount, an open meadow strewn with wildflowers at the top of the hill.
The afternoon was spent wandering along, in and out of the woods of the Downs.
We finally arrived at the appealing village of Wrotham, our destination for this day.
The Bull, a historic inn that began business in 1385, was our hotel for the evening. In earlier times, it had offered Pilgrims a place to break their journey during their trek to Canterbury. During WWII, The Bull was a center to entertain the pilots from nearby Biggin Hill and West Malling airfields that would gather to celebrate their victories.
We found The Bull to be a lovely place to stay and the dinner menu presented us with delicious options!