The walk from Penshurst to Hever runs just to the south of the village of Chiddingstone but the afternoon light quickly fades and we turn a mile before we reach the end. The ground is waterlogged and the trees bare; the moon rises early in the cold sky. The redwings and fieldfares feed on the hawthorns and the robins, dunnocks and tit flocks forage in the bushes. The path cuts across a wooded stream that runs down a dark valley; further on there is a cutting through blocks of sandstone. Here, an ancient flora of ferns, lichens and mosses is abundant on the sheltered trees and outcropping sandstone. This is ‘ghyll woodland‘, much of which has been largely undisturbed, except for invading rhododendron, since the last Ice Age largely because it is difficult to exploit for timber or anything much else. In the depths of this cold winter there are signs of a warming world; there are spring flowering plants appearing now: white dead nettle, cow parsley, lesser burdock and even primroses, the petals of which have been frosted. The old Weald was a land of coppiced woodlands including hazel and sweet chestnut, that fuelled the smelting of iron from the bands of iron stone and the making of the bright red bricks and tiles from the Wealden clays; these local products were used to construct the distinctive oak frame and brick and tile houses; the sandstone built the manor houses and churches.
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Thank you, Steve, for your interesting and quite wonderful blogs – I was introduced via Rita and Jan. I always enjoy the blogs, and love the photos. Happy new year to you!
Rose Burgoyne Watkins
Hi Rose – thanks for your kind words and best wishes to you for 2021 – it has to be an improvement on this one, surely? Steve
Hi Steve, wonderful pictures of an area very dear to me. When I lived in Kent, my favourite place to visit was Penshurst! Thanks for the memory lane tour!
Happy New Year to you both
Thanks Helen…glad they brought back some good memories. Happy New Year.