On 18th February 2018 the Warners/Handelsbanken walkers undertook their second training walk of 2018, with the clear hope of upping the distance and battling less mud! The walkers were also joined by Sean’s younger brother, Tim Dowling, who is also a keen walker.
We set out on a circular 15.5 mile route beginning in Otford and incorporating Cotman’s Ash, Romney Street, Shoreham, Lullingstone Roman Villa, Shoreham Hill before returning to Otford. The majority of the route involved walking along the North Downs Way and, whilst some of the climbs were tricky, the glorious weather certainly made the views more spectacular.
Liz kindly provided us with pre-walk fuel/energy in the form of bacon and sausage sandwiches and we set off on our walk at 8:45am. The first 3.5 miles were completed at a good pace and we stopped for a water break outside the “Rising Sun” at Cotman’s Ash. Unfortunately, the cottage, still serving as an inn, was closed on a Sunday but it truly is worth a visit for the ‘olde-worlde’ pub experience; the friendly greeting from the resident cat, dog and parrot tops off the whole experience!
We continued onto Romney Street/Shoreham and encountered our second (and steepest) descent and ascent towards Dunstall Farm. This was a perfect opportunity to practice the many climbs of the Three Peaks and everyone managed the hill at a solid pace. We carried onto Shoreham and joined the Darent Valley Path, providing us with some much welcomed level ground before undertaking our next ascent. Incidentally, “Shoreham” means “settlement by a steep slope” and the surrounding hills certainly enshrine the village’s meaning!
Continuing on, we stopped for a refreshment break at Lullingstone County Park at approximately 12:30pm. Lullingstone was roughly the half way point of the walk (just under 8 miles) and we were making good time – 3 hours and 45 minutes.
Feeling refreshed with caffeine and snacks, we continued on to Lullingstone Castle and Lullingstone Roman Villa. (Fact alert: there has been a Manor here since the Norman Conquest. The present house and gatehouse were built in 1497 and the Hart Dyke family have lived here ever since. Building of the villa itself began in about AD 100 and reached its peak of luxury in the mid-4th century). Just before Lullingstone Roman Villa, we undertook our last ascent of the walk and were suitably rewarded with breath-taking views of Eynsford, Shoreham and the Darent Valley.
Rambling on, we made our way to towards Meenfield Wood – picturesque woodland that everyone enjoyed walking through before being suitably pleased to descend, rather than ascend Shoreham Hill! We gently followed the lane back to Otford and arrived at 2:15pm – 2:30pm. Overall, with the short walk back to Liz’s, we completed 16 miles in 5 hours and 30 minutes – 5 hours and 45 minutes (depending on where people were parked).
On a positive note, there were fewer sore legs and blisters the following day; clearly demonstrating that the training is beginning to pay off!
Our next training walk will be in March, with more updates to follow.