A Walk in Kent

Last night I finally got the last of the mud off my boots. They were caked. Kent is a county that has a reputation for being dry, but the first two fields we walked across were lakes of mud. There was no escape. I’m a mucky walker at the best of times, coming home with mud splattered trousers whatever the weather, but Saturday was pretty spectacular. The ground sucked at my heels so that each step was accompanied by a distinctive squelching sound.

I’d caught an earlier train out of London than planned and it was wonderfully quiet and empty.

Empty train

The fields we passed by were covered with frost, and the sun shone benevolently. The walk, a Pluckley Circular, was organised by the Ramblers and shared between two groups which meant there were nearly thirty of us when the walk began. But I’m getting ahead of myself. If you’ve clicked on that wiki link you’ll have read Pluckley claims to be the most haunted place in the country. But how would you tell?

So I was at Pluckley station half an hour ahead of kick-off, though perhaps that should be step-off.

Station car park

The station has a legitimate claim to historical fame.

Sole survivor

An original

But it’s not actually in Pluckley. It’s a distance away from the village, over a mile. Here’s the pub that is beside the station, a pretty impressive pile, named for the Dering family who were landowners.

The pub at Dering

Dering Arms

So I wandered about a bit, hoping there might be a café, or somewhere I could wait in comfort. There were cottages opposite the pub, one with a name plaque that looks like it was originally part of the station.

Platform 3

, another with a fine fellow in the window.

Ginger in the window

While on this pole, a notice offered holiday accommodation for dogs.

Think dog

There was no café, there was nowhere cosy to wait, and the fingerpost meant I knew I shouldn’t have enough time to walk somewhere and back in time to meet the train, but it was a nice little wander down the road.

Choices, choices


Light and water with oak leaves

I’ve not walked much with the Ramblers in recent years and only recognised one person. Soon little knots of friends emerged walking and talking together. But one of the great things about the Ramblers is lots of people come on their own, you get to walk with a variety of people from different backgrounds and different parts of the capital, you can choose to walk alone in the crowd or start a conversation. One man was on his second ramble and his conversation was mainly to do with the merits of different types of boots and waterproofs. Those are fairly standard topics for Ramblers to talk about. There’s usually someone who knows birdsong, and someone else who can identify plants. I’ve walked in this part of Kent before, and it was nice to see the typical windows in the houses, and then to spot the oast houses that have been converted into desirable dwellings.

First oast houses

Oast house conversion

We heard, but did not see, a woodpecker, no such difficulty with these quadrupeds.


By this time I was walking with a teacher from Kilkenny, which sounds like the first line of a limerick but isn’t, or not of one I know. She told me that since Brexit she has had people asking her when she’s going home. She’s lived here twenty-eight years. This is home. Also her teaching qualification was gained in the UK and isn’t valid in the Irish Republic. I needed a comfort stop so fell behind when we reached a stretch with some cover for privacy. The walk leader had suggested a men to the right, women to the left option earlier, but none of us seemed that keen for communal peeing, thank goodness. The countryside was gentle with no major ups or downs.It was an easy walk onto this ridge.


We saw houses, but only one person who was leading a horse and as mud splattered as I was. It was all very quiet and calm.

Green pond

As a consequence of my moment of relief I was at the back of the group, and when I caught up with the back marker enjoyed walking with him for a while. Mind, when he slipped and fell in the mud I was glad he didn’t need a hand to get up again. The walk was just over eleven miles, and we were walking seven of them before lunch. I’d brought a packed lunch but my new back marker friend was wondering if we’d reach the pub in time for him to get a meal. We passed through this field of black and white sheep and shortly afterwards reached Egerton.

Baa Baa Black (and White) Sheep

Several of us including my Kilkenny friend headed into the churchyard to eat our picnics.

St James’ Egerton

There were snowdrops among the gravestones.

Gravestones and snowdrops

Inside the church was an effigy of a knight with a little beadsman at his feet helping him to leapfrog the queue and get into heaven.

Knight effigy


I wandered up to join the others at the pub and have a drink of orange juice and soda. Egerton High Street has a limited choice of shops, but at least it has shops. So many of our villages have lost their shops as people go to supermarkets where the food is cheaper, leaving fewer opportunities for communities to mix and share that meta information that is so important to village life.

Egerton High Street

By the time we left the pub it was starting to drizzle and felt a lot colder. I didn’t take many pictures in the afternoon, but couldn’t resist these when we happened upon a photo shoot in a ruined church. It was started in the C11 and survived until the mid C20 when it was hit by a bomb in the Second World War.

Photo shoot

St Mary’s

Back at the station one or two or our number climbed into cars and left, but most of us crossed the bridge for the train back to London, the group gradually diminishing as we approached London and people said their goodbyes at the stations where we stopped. My Kilkenny friend got out at London Bridge, I left at Waterloo East, the last people travelled on to Charing Cross. I was muddy and slightly self-conscious on the bus, but it didn’t really matter. MasterB gave me a warm welcome before I enjoyed a hot shower and started on supper.

A good day out and no ghosts.


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