Today’s statistics: 6.75 miles, ascent 1123′, descent 1227′.
Leaving the Black Horse Inn, we walked uphill to regain the North Downs Way. Entering White Horse Wood Country Park, we decided to climb up to investigate Thurnham Castle which was just a short way off the path. Although first mentioned in 1225 AD, the castle is thought to date back to the 11th-century, when it was occupied by a tenant of William the Conqueror’s brother. It was eventually abandoned and fell into ruin in the 15th-century.
Most of the morning was spent walking through peaceful woodlands.
We followed the rolling contour of the Downs, up and down with steep stairs at times. From time to time, the path wound deeply into a forest.
The first sighting of the village of Hollingbourne was to see it snuggled below us while we still had a good view of the surrounding countryside. (Picture: left center, left of yellow field.)
Hollingbourne is a quaint village with attractive homes and a very good pub, The Dirty Habit. The pub was highly recommended for dinner so we agreed that we would return via taxi in the evening.
We veered off the North Downs Way once again to reach our B&B, Chegworth Watermill, an old watermill located on the River Len.
After settling in, we called a taxi and headed to Leeds Castle to spend a lovely afternoon. Leeds Castle is a magnificent structure and the quintessential castle, having been a Norman fortress, a royal residence and a palace. It is located on 2 islands in the middle of a lake. Listed in the Domesday Book (1086), it was originally built by the Saxons in 857 AD. Edward I transformed it into a royal palace in 1278 and it has been the home of 6 medieval queens, including Elizabeth I who was imprisoned here before she became a reigning monarch. Henry VIII put his stamp on the castle by remodeling it for Catherine of Aragon. Fortunately, it survived the English Civil War because the owner at the time was sympathetic to the Parliamentarians. Lady Olive Ballie bought it in 1926 and began the final redecoration. She left the castle and its grounds to a foundation that would give the public access to this treasure.
Strolling through the extensive gardens was a delight.
A friendly peacock enjoyed strutting his handsome array of feathers for us.
Swans are in abundance on the property and were most accommodating when posing for a photo op!
Walking through acres of gardens was the perfect way to spend our afternoon.