Country Walks

One of my long-time fantasies has been to talk a long walk in the English countryside.  No longer a fantasy, I have discovered the "Time Out Book of Country Walks" and have been on two, with, I hope, a few more to come.  The first was in February, when Nancy was here to accompany me, and the second in early March.  As you can see, things never really get very stark around here, with the grass remaining green year round.  These are all-day excursions, and the book details which train to take, exactly how to follow the route, where a good pub is for lunch, and even where to take tea before getting back on the train for London, should you so desire.  The book also gives some information about the history of the places you'll see.  Both of these walks have been 'circle walks,' ending at the same train station where they began, but many are set up to go from one train station to another.  The walks are also graded in terms of difficulty, although these seemed equivalent to me, despite having different rating (2 v. 4 on a scale of 10).  The Otford walk was just over 7 miles, and the Beaconsfield about 12.


Otford - Public Footpath

Most the way on country walks is on public footpaths, legal right-of-ways that have existed for centuries, in most places. Nancy is showing a private gate off the public path.

View Of Otford Valley

A lovely English villiage, Otford is about 1/2 train ride southeast of London, in Kent. It's still morning here, and a bit hazy.

Otford Wood

Much of the landscape actually reminded me of Pennsylvania, especially the woods and rolling fields.

Crossing a Stile

Going from field to field requires going over or through various barriers that keep animals in, while allowing people to move on. This is the most frequenly seen type on this walk, but there are also 'kissing gates' along the way.

Country Lane

A scene you might see on a walk in Pennsylvania or Maryland, although you wouldn't expect to see someone is just a sweater in February. On the other hand...

Thatched House probably wouldn't see this along the path back home. There aren't that many thatched houses around, but it's always fun to see them.

Woven Fence

This was an interesting project; the trees in the hedgerow were partially cut, bent over, and then woven in poles cut from the tops of the same trees. No additional materials beyond what was already there were necessary! It appeared to make a fine fence.

Church of St. Bartholomew, Otford

This church was founded in 1050, and one of the walls of the current is believed to date to the 1080's. It was not open this day, so we couldn't go inside to see the murals of Oliver Cromwell's great-grandchildren.

Otford Palace Ruins

This palace once ocuppied four acres (next to St. Bartholomew's), but fell into ruin not long after Henry VIII conficated it from Bishop Cranmer during the creation of the Church of England.

Wooded Path near Beaconsfield

This is the begining of the Beaconsfield circle walk. This is a very 'horsy' walk, with many crossing bridle paths and many horses and horse training facilities along the path.


An idylic sight, fluffy white sheep with fluffy white clouds on a green English hillside... Framed with powerlines? Oh well, in most of England, you don't have to look at telephone poles and powerlines, as they all tend to be buried.

Stile between Fields

Many more stiles to cross. I did see one 'turnstile,' but it was in such disrepair as to be nearly unrecognizeable. It was on a path that was clearly no longer in use.

Why all the stiles? Ah!

This was the only cow in the group who bothered to look up. None of the others had the weird horn growing in the wrong direction, either.

Milton's Cottage

It's hard to walk far in England without seeing something historic. This is the only extant building that John Milton is known to have lived in, for about 1 1/2 year (to get out of London during the plague year, 1665). He was already blind, but finished his long poem here, Paradise Lost, and begain Paradise Regained. The cottage is now a museum, and the garden includes a 400 year-old well.

The Graveyard at Jordans Friends Meeting House

The Beaconsfield/Chalfont-St. Giles area has a strong Quaker influence, and at this rural Meeting House, William Penn, founder of Pennsylvania, is buried. His grave is on the far left of the group of five headstones in the middle ground.

Penn's Headstone

It is estimated that there are 5 to 6 times as many people buried in this graveyard as there are headstones (there are more headstones in the modern part of the yard, in the rear of the previous picture), as the early Quakers thought having any headstone was too ostentatious.

The Mayflower Barn

This example of what is known as a Buckinghamshire Barn is purported to include timbers that came from the Mayflower after she returned to England after dropping off the Pilgrams. If so, it would be ironic, as it stands next to the Quaker graveyard (given the severe persecution of Quakers by the Pilgrams)!

The Parish Church of Chalfont-St. Giles

This 14th century church is covered in the local flint, giving it a very different appearance than most of the churches in the area (brick).

When I get more pictures posted, you'll be able to get to them by clicking here!