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Archive for the ‘Palaces and castles in UK’ Category

Stage 4 : Richmond to Hampton Court 23.04.2021 – 18.14 kms – 4 hours 47 min – 28,390 steps – elevation 40 meters

As with Stage 3 I was on what felt like home ground today…

When I planned my day trips I saved this section especially for today; from Richmond to Hampton Court…my 2 most favourite places. When we lived in St Margaret’s, a stone’s throw from Richmond, I used to practically live at Hampton Court Palace. I was a member of the Historic Royal Palaces, and Hampton Court was an easy bus ride away….

This was also the shortest distance I’d planned. Initially I had planned to meet up with my daughter and family and spend the day in Hampton Court, but of course lockdown changed all that, besides which the rail tickets were exorbitant (🤣🤣🤣my autocorrect said: extortionate!! – too right!).

I was well excited for this section – I’ve walked this section so many times and it was all so very familiar to me…which made it more special – pretty much both sides of the river actually.

I’ve also had the joy and privilege of having travelled along the river on one of the boats in the 2014 Tudor Pull flotilla and on one of the boats following the 2012 Olympic Torch from Hampton Court to Kew (where the boat I was on returned upriver). Incredibly exciting.

Three cheers for the Gloriana – Tudor Pull 2014 the copyright for this video belongs to myself

Setting off really early from Ramsgate I arrived at Richmond station at just after 12noon. I set MapMyWalk and headed back towards Richmond Green. I planned on walking through the palace grounds enroute to the river.

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The Green, Richmond – in summer you can watch a game of cricket or many other events that take place

The palace has such an extraordinary history and much I like did when we lived in the area, I walked through the grounds as often as possible. Although the current buildings are but a shadow of their former glory, it is still a thrill to walk through the same gate as did kings and queens of England.

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Richmond Palace

The buildings are now privately owned, but hark back to more regal times; Palace Gate House, The King’s Wardrobe, the Trumpeter’s House & Lodge, Trumpeter’s Inn, the road I was on: Old Palace Yard. Just thrilling 🙂

Walking the Thames Path, Richmond Palace
Walking the Thames Path, Richmond Palace
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Richmond Palace, home to kings and queens of yore

Following Old Palace Lane I passed the ever so popular row of cottages dating back to the first half of the 19th century. They’re all painted white and on the whole have a splendid display of wisteria adorning the walls. It’s almost an attraction in itself.

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Beautiful houses in Richmond; hung with wisteria – an attraction in itself

Back on the Thames Path

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Goodbye Kew, hello Richmond, see you soon Ham House

Reaching the river, I set off upstream along Cholmondeley Walk towards the bridge.

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Cholmondeley Walk, Richmond – heading upstream

As I reached the riverside an ice-cream van beckoned …so of course, since it was already midday, I bought myself a soft-serve with a flake…after all, why not? I stopped a couple of young ladies and asked them to please take a photo… Richmond, my favourite place outside of the City of London (well one of my ‘many’ favourite places LOL).

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start the day with an ice-cream? why not, it’s my birthday
Walking the Thames Path
St George’s Day – happy birthday from the days when I still had my 3 Days in London business 🙂

Knock knock… I always tap each bridge at the end of my walk to say hello…I’ve arrived at my destination.

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Looking back at Richmond Bridge – upstream side

Of course I stopped to take some photos and the I was off….from this point onwards the path becomes very rural and you pass fields of cows, grassy parks, lots of leafy green trees and a long swathe of woodland.

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islands in the stream – passing Petersham meadows on the left, heading upstream
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riverside walking – the path gets very rural along this stretch

Not too far along and you will reach the magnificent Ham House.

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Old Father Thames lounging about in front of Ham House; a fabulous 16th century mansion – a must visit

Ham House, a 17th-century house set in formal gardens on the banks of the River Thames was completed by 1610 by Thomas Vavasour, an Elizabethan courtier and Knight Marshal to James I. It came to prominence during the 1670s as the home of Elizabeth (Murray) Maitland, the Duchess of Lauderdale and Countess of Dysart and her 2nd husband John Maitland, the Duke of Lauderdale. Managed by the National Trust, it is claimed to be “unique in Europe as the most complete survival of 17th century fashion and power” – the house retains many of it’s original Jacobean features and furniture. I have visited on a couple of occasions in the past, and can highly recommend a visit if you are in the area. It is magnificent, as are the gardens. Ham House has featured in quite a few films, namely; The Young Victoria (2009), An Englishman in New York (2009), Anna Karenina (2012) and Downton Abbey (2019) to name but a few. A statue of Father Thames, designed by the sculptor John Bacon in 1775, resides on the lawns at the front of the house leading up to the front door.

The view from the main gates stretches along a narrow road towards the river, and as I headed back to the Thames path I was lucky enough to mythical beast being led past.

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mythical beasts haunt the byways – what a beauty

Across the river, and almost opposite Ham House is Marble Hill House. Another magnificent historical house.  A Grade I listed Palladian villa, located in Twickenham it was built between 1724 and 1729 as the home of Henrietta Howard, Countess of Suffolk, mistress of King George II when he was Prince of Wales, who lived there until her death in July 1767. Marble Hill House is a museum and managed by English Heritage. Also so well worth a visit. You can reach that side of the river via the Hammerton’s Ferry – a fun ride across the river….

Although I couldn’t see it from the Ham side of the river, you will also find Orleans House Gallery – Orleans House was a Palladian villa built by the architect John James in 1710 near the Thames at Twickenham for the politician and diplomat James Johnston. It was subsequently named after the Duc d’Orléans who stayed there in the early 19th century. And if you have the time and venture further inland (so to speak) you will find the extraordinary Strawberry Hill House (booking essential, oh my gosh….it’s exquisite). Strawberry Hill House’s story begins in 1747, when Horace Walpole discovered and purchased ‘Chopp’d Straw Hall’, one of the last remaining sites available on the banks of the Thames in fashionable Twickenham. He set about transforming what was then a couple of cottages into his vision of a ‘little Gothic castle’ with pinnacles, battlements and a round tower. Thus Strawberry Hill House was born – the House became a tourist attraction in Walpole’s lifetime and beyond. Independently owned, this house is a must visit if you’re in the area and have the time.

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an overview of where I was and what there is to see – Richmond

And now that I’ve given you a virtual tour of these most magnificent houses, back the the Thames Path and some more lovely houses and a superb pub across the river

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looking across the river to Twickenham – The White Swan Pub is a super place for outdoor dining

On my right hand side (on the day, looking upstream) and fronting Twickenham old town is Eel Pie Island, a dual purpose island with a small nature reserve and boat yards, a number of houses, an eclectic mix of people amongst whom are a number of artists and was once famous for being the site of the Eel Pie Island Hotel, originally a genteel 19th-century three-storey building that later hosted ballroom dancing during the 1920s and 1930s, various jazz bands and then, in the 1960s, rock and R&B groups; including The Rolling Stones, The Who, Pink Floyd and Black Sabbath and Genesis, amongst many others. If you’re interested there’s loads of info on wikipedia.

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Eel Pie Island on the left looking downstream towards Richmond

I once lived in a gypsy caravan on the banks of the river on Eel Pie Island…only for about 4 months, but it was ever so amazing, and noisy LOL – besides the people at the pubs, the geese and ducks in the morning…woww! The island can be accessed via footbridge from the Twickenham side of the river and every year the artists open their studios for visitors.

Onwards…the path along this section is so beautiful and peaceful, with greenery everywhere you look. I was lucky to have the most amazing weather and the river ran cool and blue to my right as I marched along…..at peace with the world. At 13:40 I found a shady spot to relax and enjoy some tea and a sandwich.

To my left and stretching from Richmond as far as Teddington Lock and ending just before Kingston are the Ham Lands Nature Reserve; this beautiful 72-hectare nature reserve lies in the bend of the River Thames between Richmond and Kingston. The site is a mix of habitats, mainly woodland, scrub, grassland and wetlands that contain a diversity of plants and animals, including numerous rare species that are hard to find in London. There are meadow wildflowers that attract bees and butterflies and the reserve is teaming with bird life.

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huge swathes of land are left wild and natural for nature to enjoy

Heading towards Teddington Lock I passed a small branch of the Thames where I spotted some youngsters enjoying an outings on canoes; one of the Forest Schools – Little Squirrels at Thames Young Mariners. I’d love for my grandson to go to a Forest School.

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Forest Schools and water activities

On the right hand side I spotted the Teddington Obelisk and suddenly there it was; Teddington Lock.

How did I get there so quickly? LOL From Richmond Green to Teddington Lock (dating to 1857) took just 1.5 hours! Much quicker than I expected. Unfortunately access to the lock was closed so instead I climbed up to the bridge and viewed the lock from both the lock and the weir sides of the river. If I had crossed right over I would have found The Anglers Pub, a mid-18th century pub where I have enjoyed a good meal in the past. But not today….time was marching on, and so should I.

Back on the path I noticed one of the Port of London Authority motor boats go by. The River Thames is managed by the PLA from source right up to Teddington Lock; the river is considered to be the tidal right up to this lock; ergo part of the North Sea. Below Teddington Lock (about 55 miles or 89 kilometres upstream of the Thames Estuary), the river is subject to tidal activity from the North Sea. Before the lock was installed, the river was tidal as far as Staines, about 16 miles (26 km) upstream. Brooks, canals and rivers, within an area of 3,842 square miles (9,951 km2), combine to form 38 main tributaries feeding the Thames between its source and Teddington Lock. ref wikipedia

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Port of London authority taking care of the lock

The PLA’s responsibility extends from a point marked by an obelisk just downstream of Teddington Lock (the upstream limit of the tidal river) to the end of the Kent/Essex strait of the North Sea (between Margate to the south and Gunfleet Lighthouse, near Frinton-on-Sea, to the north,) a total of about 95 miles (150 km) ref wikipedia.

All the way long the Thames Path from Richmond (and in fact pretty much from Putney the previous day) I found trees abloom with spring blossoms and flowers. The bluebells in particular seems to be wantonly prolific this year.

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besides the gorgeous weather, the fields were abloom with colour and blossoms

This whole area is just stunning and with the glorious weather I felt on top of the world.

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like the Camino, you learn to spot even the smallest sign that you’re going in the right direction

I spotted a direction marker on high : Kingston 1/4 mile and Hampton Court 3 miles. Bring it on!

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nearing Kingston

I passed a beautiful old building on my left with the British Coat of Arms adoring the wall, but I didn’t think to stop and look at the building properly to find out more. (if you happen to know what this is or was, please leave a comment 🙂 )

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wish I knew what this building is

Suddenly and without further ado, the greenery ended and I was back in concrete and suburbia. I had reached the outskirts of Kingston. Just past the building above I noticed a mama and papa duck guiding their babies 🙂 sweet

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Mummy and Daddy herding the kids… what a ruckus they made 🙂

I stopped off for a quick 10 minute rest in the Canbury Community Gardens. I’ve visited these lovely gardens previously when at a booking in Surbiton. It was now just on 14:50 and seriously I was amazed at how quickly I had reached Kingston.

A fantastic town to visit, Kingston was built at the first crossing point of the Thames upstream from London Bridge and a bridge still exists at the same site. It was this ‘great bridge’ that gave it its early importance in the 13th century. Kingston was occupied by the Romans, and later it was either a royal residence or a royal demesne. There is a record of a council held there in 838, at which Egbert of Wessex, King of Wessex, and his son Ethelwulf of Wessex were present. In the Domesday Book it was held by William the Conqueror. Kingston was called Cyninges tun in 838 AD, Chingestune in 1086, Kingeston in 1164, Kyngeston super Tamisiam in 1321 and Kingestowne upon Thames in 1589. The name means ‘the king’s manor or estate’ from the Old English words cyning and tun. It belonged to the king in Saxon times and was the earliest royal borough. According to the Anglo-Saxon Chronicle, two tenth-century kings were consecrated in Kingston: Æthelstan (925), and Æthelred the Unready (978). There are certain other kings who are said to have been crowned there. The town of Kingston was granted a charter by King John in 1200, but the oldest one to survive is from 1208. The ancient market is still held daily in the Market Place, including today such produce as fish, jewellery, exotic foods, local foods and flowers. ref wikipedia We’ll be hearing more about bad King John later on in the journey; Stage 6 when I reach Magna Carta Island (which isn’t actually an island) enroute to Windsor.

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an alternative throne! Canvey Gardens, Kingston

I love Kingston, it’s history is absolutely fascinating. There is so much to see here if you are a history fanatic, as well as some wonderful modern features. Continuing on my way I passed a beautiful memorial to a young girl; Rosie Mitchell, just 15 years old.

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in memorium 😦

I passed some hoardings and stopped to photograph the stunning artworks that adorned the walls. How talented some people are!

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fabulous street art, Kingston

Within the town, but not too far from the river, you will find Out of Order by David Mach, a sculpture in the form of twelve disused red telephone boxes that have been tipped up to lean against one another in an arrangement resembling dominoes.

Passing John Lewis building and just before the bridge is small plaza where on your left you can see a fabulous mural of Kingston and just before the bridge in the basement of John Lewis, a preserved 14th century undercroft (cellar) – a beautiful chequer board pattern of chalk blocks and flints, with half of its roof still surviving.

It’s at this point that you want to be crossing the river to the north side….back into Richmond-Upon-Thames. The reason for that is because if you stay on the south bank of the Thames Path you will once again encounter a lot of diversions….namely the Thames Sailing Club and Hart’s Boatyard and a minor reservoir and you’d have to walk along the very busy Portsmouth Road, as well past as a long row of houses.

So since I did not wish to walk along that road I crossed over via Kingston Bridge; aka Horse Fair Bridge and then left onto Barge Walk, which would take me along a lovely rural and shady route right up until Hampton Court Palace. Until Putney Bridge was opened in 1729, Kingston Bridge was the only crossing of the river between London Bridge and Staines Bridge. According to 16th-century antiquarian John Leland, the bridge existed in the centuries when Anglo-Saxon England existed (after Roman Britain and before 1066 Norman invasion). Kingston is known to have had a bridge as early as 1193; a flimsy wooden structure replaced by the current bridge in 1828.

The Barge Walk, a lovely wide riverside path, runs for 5 kms and follows a curve in the river offering lovely views of the river and the opposite bank, taking you from Kingston Bridge all the way to Hampton Court Bridge, enroute passing Raven’s Ait Island on the left (many a wedding reception is held on the island), and Hampton Court Home Park on the right. This historic towpath has been part of the Hampton Court estate for 500 years!

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‘You are here’ – bottom left hand side – where I was near Kingston Bridge…

There was a quicker way to reach the palace…diagonally across from Kington Bridge is Hampton Court palace 🙂

It was wonderful to be able to stretch my legs and just walk. Although the Barge Walk is a shared path, there is plenty of space for everyone.

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Barge Walk – alongside Home Park; Hampton Court Palace
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ring for the ferry – Surbiton on the opposite side of the river

Lined with trees and natural habitat, Barge Walk takes you right into the bosom of nature with birdsong from every tree, butterflies and bees flitting here and there, cherry trees heavy with pink spring time blossoms.

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looking across the river to Surbiton and the reason you want to walk on the Hampton Court side of the Thames Path
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You are here (on the right near the island) – Home Park map, Hampton Court Palace

About midway there is a small gateway above a short flight of steps that will take you into the Home Park. I recall a most embarrassing incident that occurred here one fine day on one of my many walks along this section of the river… involving my bottom and stinging nettles – the operative word being ‘stinging’!! I’ll leave it to your imagination to figure out what happened!! LOL

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Home Park, looking a little bereft of greenery

Soon I reached the perimeter of the palace proper….a lovely red brick wall that led to the magnificent Tijou Screen, designed by French master blacksmith, Jean Tijou in 1690.

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beautiful trees provide shady respite on a hot day, the Barge Walk at Hampton Court – nearing the palace now
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approaching the Tijou Gates at Hampton Court Palace – in the distance Hampton Court Bridge

Finally, what I had looked forward to the whole day; first view of the beautiful Baroque palace and gardens.

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The Baroque Palace at Hampton Court

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The stunning Tijou Gates at Hampton Court Palace

Hampton Court Palace is a Grade I listed royal palace in the London Borough of Richmond upon Thames. Building of the (old) palace began in 1514 for Cardinal Thomas Wolsey, the chief minister of King Henry VIII. Although it seemed like such a very long way it is only 12 miles (19.3 kilometres) upstream of central London. Along with St James’ Palace, it is one of only two surviving palaces out of the many the king owned. Managed by the Historic Royal Palaces charity, the palace is currently in the possession of Queen Elizabeth II and the Crown.  King William III’s massive rebuilding and expansion work, which was intended to rival the Palace of Versailles, destroyed much of the Tudor palace. His work ceased in 1694, leaving the palace in two distinct contrasting architectural styles, domestic Tudor and Baroque. King George II was the last monarch to reside in the palace.

So near now to my journey’s end, it was just on 16:50 when I rounded the final corner to behold the extraordinary Tudor Palace; the wonderful Tudor Great Gatehouse. In the forecourt of the palace is where the Tudor Pull begins it’s historic journey downstream to the Tower of London. As I mentioned earlier, I had the great good fortune, via my dear friend Joe, Captain of the Trinity Tide, to participate in the flotilla one year. It was amazing. I must try to find some of the photos…they are all uploaded to an external hard-drive somewhere in my storage.

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Hampton Court Palace – the extraordinary Tudor Palace

The history of the palace is longer than my arm, so I won’t go into too much detail, suffice to say, it is magnificent and next to the Tower of London and Dover Castle, it is my absolute favourite palace in England and I practically lived here I visited so often. Do have a look on wikipedia if you want to find out more, it’s absolutely fascinating.

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Hampton Court Bridge 🙂 hoorah

Heading up onto Hampton Court Bridge I stopped off at the ice-cream cart to buy my 2nd soft-serve and flake of the day! Only 2 you might say…..well I didn’t really have time for more LOL – it took me exactly 4 hours from bridge to bridge.

I quickly checked the train times and since I had a bit of time available I stopped on the bridge to admire the view…and then it was homeward bound. I was ever so keen to make the most of the glorious weather and just keep walking, but then I would only have gotten home on the last train….tomorrow would have to suffice.

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stunning poppies in the forecourt of Hampton Court Station

Did I ever say how much I love walking?

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He who feared he would not succeed sat still

There is no fear that I will ever sit still…..unless I’m watching a movie of course, or reading a book….although I don’t have much time for those atm. LOL

Stage 5; Hampton Court to Staines to follow shortly. What I was now finding is that it was taking me half the day just to reach my start point, so after Stage 5 I’m going to plan two-day stages and sleep over wherever suits best on the 1st day. I’m hoping to do Staines to Windsor on one day and Windsor to Maidenhead on another. Dates to be determined.

In case you missed the start of my journey as I walk the Thames Path from sea to source….

Prelude to walking the Thames Path

Stage 1a – walking the Thames Path : Erith to the Thames Barrier

Stage 1b – walking the Thames Path : Thames Barrier to Greenwich

Stage 2 – walking the Thames Path : Greenwich to Battersea Park

Stage 3 – walking the Thames Path : Battersea Park to Richmond

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After walking Stage 6 of the Thames Path on Friday I stayed overnight in Windsor to watch the Queen’s Birthday Parade on Saturday morning.

Arriving in Windsor…time for an ice-cream 😁

Albeit a muted affair in comparison to the usual London events, it was still very exciting to see the Queen’s Horse Guards, the Blues and Royals and of course my favourite; the King’s Troop Royal Artillery.

Horse Guards
King’s Troop, Royal Horse Artillery

A massive bonus was the Red Arrows flypast – as always just thrilling and wowwed the crowds. It’s so endearing how there’s a collective scream of excitement and much cheering as they approach and clapping after the planes have flown over.

The Red Arrows – always a favourite at these events

I had decided to walk back into town via The Long Walk and find a good vantage point to watch.

It was just luck that I was on the Long Walk. When I got there I saw all the police lined up along the route and after chatting to one of them I discovered that the troops were not going through the town as I thought, but along the Long Walk…so I stayed. Major awesome.

I also got interviewed by LBC but not sure if they used the footage…however these 2 were pure gold!! So serious, so patriotic and very very clearly absolute Monarchists. Loved The Queen, they even sang happy birthday….😄😄😄❤

God Save The Queen 👸❤

After all the excitement, I went searching for a 3G store to have them charge my phone before I set off to Maidenhead on Stage 7….and not only did I have my phone charged (the battery on the Samsung A40 has always been pathetic, but I ended up with a new contract; Samsung Galaxy A52 and a tablet with dock and Alexa built in 😂😂😂

Did I really need this?? 🤪🤪 the tablet will make a huge difference to my life – as soon as I figure out how it works 😁😁
The lopsided house – used to be a tea-room
A quirky bull
All The Queen’s Swans

I had a brilliant visit, chatting about conspiracy theories, the Pyramids and secret societies…the staff 3 Store at Windsor are just amazing and really friendly. Meanwhile they transferred all my data to the new phone, but I left so late that I missed my connection at Maidenhead and only got home at 22:45 🙄🙄😴😴

A long but brilliant day. The mileage for these two stages will ho towards The Cabot Trail virtual challenge…looking forward to the next postcard. Meanwhile the last postcard was gorgeous

Today I’m in Deal with my grandson 💙 (who is currently fast asleep in his pram) to visit Deal and Walmer Castles, both of which are open today…hoorah.

It’s a gorgeous day in Kent, I hope it’s good wherever you are. Enjoy your day.

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Stage 3 : Battersea Park to Richmond 21.04.2021 – 27.02 kms – 6 hours 24 min – 40,316 steps – elevation 82 meters

Battersea Park to Richmond – what a joy. I was totally excited about this section of the Thames Path because it passes some of the places I love so much.

I left home fairly early and caught the train to Battersea Park station and retraced my steps to Rosery Gate.

Gatehouse Battersea Park – back where I ended..

Once in the park I followed the signs for the Thames Path till I reached Chelsea Gate and stopping only to take a photo of the bridge.

The Thames Path 😝😝 through Battersea Park

, I set off along the Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile. What a splendid section of the path, wide open space and stunning views of the river (in my opinion, the whole path should be like this 😉)

The Sri Chinmoy Peace Mile – I forgot to actually take a photo of the mile 🤔🤔

As you head upstream with the river on your right you will arrive at the magnificent London Peace Pagoda. This beautiful structure is worth a few minutes of your time. Walk right around it to appreciate the sheer magnificence of this wonderful place – the Pagoda is dedicated to the realisation of Universal Peace. It’s beautiful.

The London Peace Pagoda
London Peace Pagoda

Never one to follow a straight route, I often go off-piste to explore and today, after viewing the Peace Pagoda i walked across to the fabulous fountains, and then back again.

Fountains in Battersea Park

Next up the stunning Albert Bridge – another of my favourite bridges, it looks ever so pretty when lit up at night. I stopped to take a pic of the guard house – Albert Bridge Notice ‘All troops must break step when marching over this bridge’ – that always gives me a chuckle when reading it….

Albert Bridge
All Troops must break step….

The path along this section is really lovely, well paved and clean as it passes office and apartment blocks on the left. I crossed a wee creek; Ransome’s Dock, via a footbridge, then stopped to look at the fabulous Atrate barge/sailing ship moored alongside the banks. I soon reached Battersea Bridge where I briefly stopped to photograph the beautiful swan sculpture by Catherine Marr-Johnson, these very naturalistic swans are captured in the act of taking flight…across the Thames…

Atrate
Swans taking flight…

The next Thames Path signpost read: Wandsworth Park 2.5 miles (4km) – okay so another hour then. Passing through an open space is another interesting sculpture: ‘In Town’ of a man, woman and child by John Ravera.

In Town – John Ravera

The pathway along this section is beautifully paved, wide and clean, passing a number of apartment blocks on the left and a view across the river to Chelsea Harbour Pier from whence Queen Elizabeth II set sail along the Thames for her Diamond Jubilee in 2012 (OMG!! that was 9 years ago…feels like just recently… where does the time go?).

The varied path…

Going strong at this stage I passed some fabulous houseboats moored alongside the banks and soon reached St. Mary’s Church Battersea, made famous by JWM Turner who painted scenes of the church from the opposite banks of the river.

St. Mary’s Church, Battersea

Parked in front of the church was a little coffee and sandwich trailer – @thefeelgoodbkry : The Feel Good BakeryFor every Feel Good sandwich you buy, a child in need of food will receive a free meal. That’s it. Simple. ‘One Small Sandwich for man, one giant sandwich for mankind’. I stopped to buy some coffee and a sweet treat, and got to chatting to the chap managing the show who told me more, so I did a bit of research and found more information on their website: We are a charitable bakery and youth development programme creating job opportunities for young people in South West London, simultaneously feeding children in Kenya and Romania one sandwich at a time through our “one-for-one” scheme. What a brilliant scheme.

The Feel Good Bakery

The church was open, so never one to miss an opportunity I popped in for a quick look around. St. Mary’s is the oldest church in Battersea and the original church was built around 800AD, the current church completed in 1777, designed by Joseph Dixon. The church has strong connections with art and literature through the artist and poet William Blake, who married Catherine Boucher there on 17 August 1782. ref wikipedia The interior was quite simple in relation to some of the churches I’ve visited, and the stained glass windows are exquisite. One such window commemorated Benedict Arnold who was ‘Sometime General in the arm of George Washington. So a strong American connection and the window depicts the American flag alongside the British flag.

St Mary’s Church Battersea

Outside, the view across the river from the little park is so peaceful. I could have stayed the day, but instead I sat on one of the benches for a short while to enjoy my coffee and pastry.

View from the porch of St. Mary’s

Setting off again I stopped a bit further on to look back and the tide was well out. Next up Battersea Railway Bridge…onwards

Looking back…

I passed the London Heliport which brought back joyous memories of my 60th birthday when my daughter surprised me with a helicopter flight over London for my birthday. It also brought back a memory of my father; it was the last time I spoke to him. He died a few years later. As I got back to the riverside after the diversion round the heliport and the hotel, I was treated to a helicopter coming in to land. 🙂

London Helicopters

The path was still beautifully wide and paved, with attractive residential apartments lining the route. I don’t mind the type of development where the designers et al have had the courtesy to leave the path unhindered and free for walking.

Battersea Reach. It’s many years since I walked along this section of the river and I was pleasantly surprised. Besides the lovely ‘pathway’, the Thames Tidal planting added a wonderful element of nature to the area; the planting has seen the reintroduction of native plant species by planting them into the new river bank.

Tidal planting on the Thames

I passed Wandsworth Bridge and followed the path until my route was once again blocked by a great big industrial site. Ugh. And so another diversion, this time around the Western Riverside Waste Authority complex and then heading back to the river after crossing the River Wandle; it wasn’t very pretty and looked dark and forlorn with the tide out.

Poor River Wandle

The sign suggested that the next section was called ‘Riverside Walk’, but it was closed off for some dortbif construction. Instead, I meandered between high-rise apartment blocks and business premises passing some interesting sculptures.

Highrise living in Wandsworth

And then Wandsworth Park at the far end of which I had another diversion around a row of residential houses that lead right down to the banks of the river a small church and so to Putney Bridge. The route took me past some lovely houses and through an interesting open space.

Diversion in Wandsworth Park
The acorn sticker shows the way
Putney Bridge is in view

Wandsworth Park; a Grade II listed Edwardian park, is lovely, albeit not as lush as some of the parks you find dotted along the Thames. I did find the magnificent avenue of Lime and Plane trees absolutely stunning and stopped to puzzle over the sculpture – Pygmalion by Alan Thornhill. One of a number of similar sculptures dotted around on the Putney Sculpture Trail. I can’t say that they are they type of sculptures that appeal to me, but I’m guessing some people may like them.

Trees Wandsworth Park
Sculptures by Alan Thornhill
St Mary’s next to Putney Bridge – love the sundial

Once passed Putney Bridge the Thames Path became more rural with a lot more trees and greenery and gravel instead of paving or metalled surfaces. Its wonderful walking along these sections; fresh air, birdsong, flowers and peace….blissful.

Rural Thames path

I passed the Steve Fairbairn memorial on the Mile Post; a stone obelisk popularly known as the Mile Post, is exactly one mile from the Putney end of the Championship Course. I thought about my friend Joe who is Captain of the Trinity Tide for Trinity House in London. I’ve often watched the various London races he and his crew participate in on the Thames.

Memorial to Steve Fairbairn

Ahead of me I could see a gorgeous red-brick building with a domed tower….intrigued I wondered what it was – it’s a Harrods furniture depository LOL Such a fancy word and building for storing furniture…but hey it’s Harrods!

Harrods furniture depository

I saw lots of rowers on the river at this stage, many of the rowing clubs line the banks of the Thames from here on. The waters are a LOT calmer than in central London, with a lot less traffic so it makes a suitable environment for practising, and I could hear the various megaphones amplifying the coach’s voices. I love watching rowers on the river, but with time marching on, I had to march on too: it was already 3pm by now. I did however stop for my 2nd short break to eat and replenish.

Putney

The beautiful, albeit fragile Hammersmith Bridge is currently closed to all traffic due to structural weakness and repairs going on. The 133-year old bridge is made of cast iron which is brittle and can shatter. So for the forseeable future it is structurally unsafe. She is quite old after all; built in 1824!!

Hammersmith Bridge

Welcome to Richmond Upon Thames – why thank you!!! Yes!! At 15:18 I finally reached the border of Richmond. Whoo whoo not long to go now till journey’s end and my favourite place in Greater London. Richmond U-T is twinned with Fonteinebleau in France, Konstanz in Germany and Richmond, Virginia USA. Across the river I could see some of the pretty Georgian and Victorian houses that face the river. Richmond is an area with a rich tapestry of history.

Welcome to Richmond Upon Thames

On my walk, at various places, I noticed quite a few sad little memorials: remembering people who had drowned in the river. The Thames is deceptive and on the surface does not give an indication of the dangerous and fast currents just below. I’ve seen a large car being lifted up and carried off from a slipway in Richmond before…..the river is tidal and powerful and sometimes people forget that…with tragic consequences. Just across from that memorial is a sad little memorial to Freddie the Seal who was viciously attacked by a dog off it’s leash.

Memorial to Freddie the Seal

Dog owners KNOW that they are meant to keep their animals on a leash, but no! “oh, he’s never done that before” or “oh, my dog would never behave like that” until they do! And it always comes as ‘such’ a surprise!! The culprit’s owner in this instance actually got off with her misdemeanour….The owner of the dog which brutally mauled a popular Putney seal to death will not face charges, the Metropolitan Police has confirmed. Of course she won’t, she’s a barrister! Ugh. Makes me so mad. Why isn’t she facing charges…other people have??? Anyway, I digress. This type of injustice makes me furious. Stupid woman.

Back to the river…

The pathway is delicious at this stage, soft gritty gravel beneath your feet, lush green trees on both sides, Loverly!! I saw a memorial bench to David and Margaret Sharp “who did so much to create the Thames Path” Thank you 🙂

Thank you David and Margaret

All too soon though you reach urban conglomeration again LOL and boof back to the metalled surfaces…hell on the feet. With Barnes Railway Bridge behind me and Chiswick Bridge just 1.3 miles ahead it was now 16:12 and in reality I still had quite a way to go before reaching Richmond Bridge.

Urban development, not always pretty

Not long after I reached Chiswick Bridge where the annual Oxford/Cambridge race; The Boat Race, passes the finish line. Many a year have I stood near the bridge to watch the end of the race as well as the preceding Watermen’s Race. In most years over 250,000 people watch the race from the banks of the river between Putney and Mortlake.

Budweiser – excellent location for a brewery
And a pub next door 😄😄🍻🍻
This is the spot where I would stand to watch the race finishes – Chiswick Bridge
Walking the Thames Path
Joe Lane Capt of the Trinity Tide and crew at the 2014 Boat Race

Not a brilliant image, I pulled it off instagram since I don’t have a copy in my storage – however….

Kew Bridge and Gardens was now just 2 miles ahead of me. I cannot tell you how many times I have walked this stretch of the river….it is beautiful. When we lived in Richmond I would often stroll along the banks of the Thames from Richmond Lock to Chiswick Bridge, just because I could. This stretch of the river as well as from Richmond Bridge to Hampton Court is so familiar to me and it felt really good to be walking here again.

At Kew Pier I noticed a concrete key-shaped sculpture….on investigation I found it is called ‘Cayho’ by Marc Folds. It’s really quite odd that I’ve never seen it before although it’s been there since 2000. I guess we see different things at different times. According to the sculptor, it’s called CAYHO, the AngloSaxon name for Kew – ‘key shaped piece of land’. How cool is that!

CAYHO

The Thames Path is a mostly shared space and you will cross ‘paths’ with fellow walkers, joggers, runners and cyclists, dog-walkers, parents pushing strollers or running after escaping toddlers.

Along this stretch of the river is where you will start to see some of the many little islands in the stream…there are dozens of islands dotting the path of the Thames; large and small, unoccupied and residential/business islands, eyots or aits. Many offer a refuge for wildlife, which personally I think is the best use for them.

Islands and rowers

Hello Kew! So nice to see yew!! 🙂 Oh how much I love Kew.

The Pink Palace – Kew Gardens. My heartbeat escalated…yayyy I’m nearly there. By now it was 17:03 and I had been walking since 12:05pm. I have to say this again – this section of the river is absolutely gorgeous..any time of the year. Lush leafy trees, thick green grass, and heavenly views of the river…sunset on a clear night from this area is fab.u.lous! Its equally gorgeous in winter when the trees have shed their foliage, and of course spring and autumn are splendid.

Kew Palace – the Pink Palace

Kew Palace is the smallest of all the royal palaces, originally built as a fashionable mansion for wealthy London silk merchant, Samuel Fortrey in 1631. In the 1720s, the royal family, George II and Queen Caroline and their children arrived and took leases on the palace and several other houses in the near vicinity. It was a place where they could be private, domestic, and live normal lives unencumbered by the trappings of ceremony and deference. The gardens were cultivated as an idyllic pleasure ground. Later the house became a refuge for George III, when he fell ill and was thought to have become mad.

Kew Gardens is absolutely magnificent with so much to see and do. Their annual orchid festival is a feast of colour, you could never imagine there were so many varieties of orchids. I really must visit again. At this point the pathway is wide with edges m’dear! Ever so posh territory now! Hah! Here too, gorgeous clumps of bluebells decorated the verges…seriously, I’m sure the colours of the flowers are more vibrant this year! All flowers and blossoms….they all seems so much brighter.

A peek at Kew Gardens near the riverside

I stopped briefly to look back and in the far distance I could see the apartment block towers of Putney, or is it Barnes? Across the river is Syon House, not visible from here, but you can see the pretty pink structure that is the Old Pavillion in Old Isleworth, close to Syon Park.

Across the river, the Old Pavilion

Within a few minutes I was walking past Richmond Lock – the first of the locks on the tidal Thames, it controls the river at high tide and prevents, mostly, flooding of Richmond and higher places upstream. However…if you lived in Richmond, Twickenham or St Margaret’s, you’ll know for sure that at high tide, cars that are parked along the riverside get swamped, and I’ve even seen a car lifted up by the river from a slipway and sent sailing off towards the sea…it would likely get stuck at the lock, but just imagine your car sailing down the river and through London central!!

I’ve had some hilarious moments at high tide, and one time had to be rescued off the metal barrier after I decided it would be a good idea to walk along it to access the bridge. I very quickly realised the folly of my endeavour hanging precariously over the top rail till the gentleman who lived in the nearest barge waded through the water in his knee high wellies and carried me off. My daughter captured the incident on camera for posterity 🤪🤪🤪🤪 Although she was laughing so much I’m surprised she was able to keep the camera steady.

Richmond Lock

Then I was crossing the Greenwich Meridian line that runs across through the Old Deer Park (a fragment of the land connected to Richmond Palace, named from the hunting park created by James I in 1604) and marked with a metallic strip across the path so you don’t miss it. The King’s Observatory, located in the Old Deer Park, Richmond Surrey, was commissioned in 1769 by King George III, a keen amateur astronomer. The Observatory cupola, housing its telescope, is now the oldest of its type in the world.

Old Deer Park, hunting ground of Kings and Queens
Greenwich Mean Time

I soon passed The Swan Pub and Asgill House and remembered so many happy evenings and days in this area; sitting on the edge of the riverside, legs dangling towards the river and watching as it rose quickly, higher and higher till it touched your feet and you had to move pretty pronto or get a wet bottom LOL I also remember walking, no shoes on, along this section of the path wading through the water at high tide. Many of the businesses that line the path have high water marks on their doors where the high tide had intruded.

The Swan Pub, Richmond and Asgill House

That path, Cholmondeley Walk, in the bottom left image is sometimes under 2-3 feet of water at high tide.

I had planned to meet a friend from instagram at the bridge at 6pm, and it was now just after…so I hurried along, passing a couple dancing to flamenco music…the charms of the Richmond Riverside. Always something musical happening.

Dancing at Richmond Riverside

And then…journey’s end!! Hoorah! At exactly 18:04 I touched the bridge…..I had made it. Stage 3 done and dusted.

Richmond Bridge

I was glad though that it wasn’t high tide right then or I’d have had to make a big diversion through town. Veevs and I connected at last and because it was already quite late, we headed for the station via The Green, but first a short diversion to go past Richmond Palace.

Richmond Palace

Richmond Palace is a fantastic place, albeit a lot smaller than it was originally, once a royal home erected about 1501 by Henry VII of England (n 1509 Henry VII died at Richmond Palace), Richmond Palace was a favourite home of Queen Elizabeth, who died there on 24 March 1603. It remained a residence of the kings and queens of England until the death of Charles I in 1649 after which it was sold and eventually fell into disrepair. Only vestigial traces survive, most notably the Gatehouse, the King’s Wardrobe, The Trumpeter’s House etc…all now private residences. It even has connections to Chaucer:  In 1368 Geoffrey Chaucer served as a yeoman at Sheen. Queen Mary I, after her marriage to Phillip II of Spain, spent her honeymoon there. Richmond Palace was one of the first buildings in history to be equipped with a flushing lavatory, invented by Elizabeth I’s godson, Sir John Harington. There is so much history attached to the palace and I can’t possibly list it all, so I’ve added a link to wikipedia in case you’re interested to read more than just the snippets I’ve included above.

I bought my ticket home and we had just enough time for a quick chat while I quenched my thirst with a hot chocolate 🙂 of course. I think I deserved it.

Battersea Park to Richmond. What a terrific walk and section of the river. Although I was squeezed for time and didn’t have much chance to dilly dally, I did stop a few times for short breaks. The riverside from Putney onwards is so inviting and if you can find a free bench to sit on, there are lots of little spaces and hollows where you could find a fallen log or boulder to sit on and while away the time.

Read more about Stage 2 of my walk along the Thames Path

Stage 4 – Richmond to Hampton Court. Bring it on! Another of my most favourite sections of the river.

“The Thames is liquid history”. John Burns

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Unexpectedly, I had the opportunity to visit Wells last week. What a delight. The weekly market was in full swing and people bustled about buying Christmas presents and savouring the delicious aromas that wafted through the air. I saw some amazing wreaths and was tempted to buy one, except I have nowhere to hang it, and a 6 hour journey to the Thanet coast on Saturday.

I loved this wreath
Autumn colours are perfectly suited for winter wreaths
Celebrating an Olympic Champion; Mary Bignall Rand, Gold medallist Long Jump 1964
Built around 1450. Here beggars used to ask for pennies
Penniless Porch, Wells, Somerset

I had 2 hours to explore and made the most of the time…..and spent most of it in the Bishop’s Palace 😁😁 which left me with 10 minutes to visit the cathedral. Fortunately we’re going back later this week so I can have a proper visit.

Layout of the Bishop’s Palace
Entrance to the Bishop’s Palace

Home to the Bishops of Bath and Wells, the palace, founded in 1206, has been the Bishop’s residence for more than 800 years. The great medieval bishops – Jocelyn, Burnell, Ralph of Shrewsbury, and Beckynton – developed their palace next to the city’s ancient wells. For centuries, water flowing from these wells has shaped the landscape; the buildings and the gardens of this site.

Entrance to the palace rooms
Along the ramparts

Wells, a cathedral city, located on the southern edge of the Mendip Hills, has had city status since medieval times, due to the presence of Wells Cathedral. Often described as England’s smallest city, it is actually second smallest to the City of London.

Wells takes its name from 3 wells dedicated to Saint Andrew, one in the market place and two within the grounds of the Bishop’s Palace and cathedral.

Moat, boats and birds

A small Roman settlement surrounded them, which grew in importance and size under the Anglo-Saxons when King Ine of Wessex founded a minster church there in 704. The community became a trading centre based on cloth making and Wells is notable for its 17th-century involvement in both the English Civil War and Monmouth Rebellion. 

Wells was listed in the Domesday Book of 1086 as Welle, from the Old English wiells, not as a town but as four manors with a population of 132, which implies a population of 500–600

Over the years

William Penn stayed in Wells shortly before leaving for America (1682), spending a night at The Crown Inn.

I had a wonderful time exploring the Bishop’s Palace and am looking forward to seeing the Cathedral more fully on Thursday.

Children’s Wings

Inside the Bishop’s Palace

The Coronation Cope worn by Bishop Kennion at the coronation of King Edward VII in 1902
He assured me that I’m on the ‘good’ list 🙃🙃
The entrance hall from the stairs
The chapel windows
A compilation of the chapel
Scenes from the gardens

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I forgot to tell you about Lewes Castle!! How remiss of me. Only one of the most amazing attractions of the town..

When I first arrived in Lewes my attention was drawn to the fantastic 14th and 15th century buildings in the high street and I didn’t even notice the castle….probably also because I was sitting on the left hand side of the taxi 😉 and despite what I used to tell my daughter, I don’t have eyes in the back of my head, so I missed it altogether.

And unusually for me…..as with Newhaven, I didn’t do my research prior to visiting.

On my first Saturday here, during my break, I set off to explore and whoaaa, there’s a castle.

My first glimpse of Lewes Castle

But as mentioned in a previous post, I had neither mask nor money with me 🤪🤪 Never mind, I’ll come back next week (the castle is only open on Saturday atm due to Covid-19). But of course next Saturday was raining. So no castle.

However this Saturday last, I had to visit regardless of the weather because I leave Lewes on Friday.

Saturday dawned rainy and windy but with an occasional blue sky sunshine, so off I went. They have a really good system set up. You’re greeted at the door by a lovely lady who takes all your test and trace details, you sanitise your hands, then she sends you off on a one-way system through the museum first, after which you can buy your ticket for a visit to the castle. Ergo, the museum is free to visit (I think).  And visit you must.

The museum is not large, 2 rooms downstairs and 2 rooms upstairs, but they have a most amazing set up depicting the history of the area and the many artefacts that have been found in Sussex. An intimate little museum with just enough information to read and look at without being overwhelmed. My favourite artifacts were the swords. Wowww.

I had a good read, took some photos, bought a few items from the gift shop for my grandson, paid for my entry and another lovely lady guided me across to the gate and let me in.

I love castles 🤎🤎 There’s a massive shortage of castles in South Africa and the only castle I’d had experience of before coming to the UK was Cape Town Castle which isn’t really, but is rather a fort with grand ideas masquerading as a castle. It also has a history as a prison and is still a symbol of European oppression. Although to be fair, I guess most castles here have the same sort of background.

Anyway, back to Lewes Castle…

Like many castles today, this too is just a shadow of its former glory, but its fabulous. I climbed innumerable stairs to the top, sadly not the very top of the towers, which is where I really wanted to go, but the remains of the Great Hall will have to suffice.

Dozens of stairs
The Great Hall

The views across the valley to the hills are absolutely stunning, especially beautiful with the autumn colours. From here as well the view looks back in time to the 1264 Battle of Lewes.

A good view too of what used to be the Tilting Ground, now a bowling green, and in the distance I could see the windmill I passed a few days ago on my walk to Kingston. Awesome.

The Tilting Ground

The wind was blowing a gale and howling in my ears, flicking leaves and branches here and there….just brilliant. It was wild. Yes, there’s a couple of trees growing out the side of the building and there’s a tree slap bang in the middle of what was the Great Hall…now that’s wild!!

Nature takes over…

As you can imagine with the unpleasant weather, there were not many people up there, so it was easy to explore, although there really wasn’t that much to explore. Shame about the towers – closed atm due to Covid-19. Geez, I just realised reading that sentence back, that I used the word ‘there’ 3 times 🤔🤔 English eh.

Coming back down the stairs you have fantastic views across the town and to the cliffs, and travelling from across country the castle can be seen from miles away….the position is brilliant.

Views for miles around

In the courtyard is a fantastic Russian cannon and some wooden stocks

A bit of history:

A work in progress like most castles in England, Lewes Castle, originally known as Bray Castle, follows a motte and bailey design but unusually, has two mottes and was built on and added to over a few centuries.

The first motte, known as Brack Mount was completed shortly after the 1066 Norman conquest of England.

Both of the mottes were built by William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey, who also, along with his wife Gundrada, built the nearby  Priory of St. Pancras.

The mottes would originally have been surmounted by wooden palisades.

The second motte, known as the Keep, was completed in the late 11th century.
Both of which were built by William de Warenne, 1st Earl of Surrey.

Soldiers from the King’s army, set out from the castle to engage with Simon de Montfort at the Battle of Lewes in 1264.

Towers were added to one of the shell keeps in the 13th century.

The barbican gate was added in the 14th century.

Certainly not as enormous as some of the castles I’ve visited in the last 19 years, but no less impressive, it stands guard over a gap in the South Downs overlooking the towns of Lewes and Cliffe and the River Ouse that winds it’s way between the 2 towns.

In the distance…it looks far, but it’s only about a 10 minute walk

Lewes castle has the distinction of being the 49th castle I’ve visited as part of Project 101.

I’ve compiled a short video of some of the exhibits in the museum

I can highly recommend a visit to Lewes Castle if you’re in the area. At the moment they’re only open on Saturdays, but that might change in the future.

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With just 4 days left in Lewes, today I was determined to find and follow the Egrets Way.

At least now I know where it starts, I didn’t waste 3/4 of my break trying to find the route.

But first I stopped off at Trinity Church, Southover. I’d been past it a number of times but it was always closed – today it was open 😃😃 There’s quite a history attached; “The church of Southover originated as a ‘hospitium’ or guest house to serve the nearby Priory of Saint Pancras founded by William de Warenne and his wife Gundrada in 1077 AD.

The tower was built in stages between 1714 and 1738, after the collapse of the earlier tower with spire in 1698. This may have been caused by hanging a ‘Great Bell’ in the previous year, which proved too much for the earlier structure. The location of the earlier tower is not certainly known,
but from what evidence is available probably stood where the Gundrada Chapel is built now.

I was delighted to find a scallop shell in one of the glass windows with St James right above it ❤❤

After my brief visit to the church I walked down St James’s Street to have a closer look at the house at the end of the cul de sac – it looked like a gingerbread house. Imagine my amusement when on closer inspection I discovered the name of the house; The Gingerbread House ☺☺ Just perfect!!

The Gingerbread House ☺☺

I made my way towards the river via the carpark and soon picked up the Egrets Way. I’m dead keen to walk along the riverside to the little village of Southease, also a Domesday Book village and near to where Virginia Woolf, who at the time lived in nearby Rodmell, committed suicide in 1941 in the River Ouse.

Of course with all the rain over the last few days, and boy has it rained, the river is in full tumultuous flow and the riverside path is mostly a muddy quagmire, placing obstacles of watery pools in the way.

Fast flowing River Ouse

But I trudged along, determined to get as far as I could, zig-zagging from one side of the path to the other trying to find the least squelchy and muddy bits to traverse. Thanks be for my walking poles, as always they kept me upright when the mud was determined to see me on my bottom.

I arrived at one gate to find a pool of water right in the middle surrounded by mud, so balancing precariously on the wooden edges and hugging the upright struts I sort of swung my way around and through the gate….but I didn’t get very much further since the path at the next gate was just too muddy; and so I said “no, just no!”.

I beat a retreat and returned the way I had come.

Once past all the muddy puddles et al, I crossed a grassy patch and picked up the cycle/walking path that is sensibly gravelled and continued on my way.

The riverside path will have to wait for another time – perhaps when I eventually walk the South Downs Way that passes through Lewes, I may just divert for a few days and actually walk along the river to Southease….if it hasn’t been raining!!

Time will tell.

Meanwhile I followed the path, beneath the grim and dreary railway underpass, through a fine, new wooden gate and before too long I recognised the place I had originally seen the signpost for the Egrets Way, near the recycling centre. It also gave me the opportunity to see where I had gone so very wrong at my last attempt

Dreary underpass, fine wooden gate

Once I realized the error of my ways, the what and why became apparent. Instead of turning left, I was endeavouring to find a way through to the right 🤪🤪🤪👉❌👈 which of course would have taken me onto the railway line….clearly I need to do a map reading course 🤣🤣🤣 Even with the help of Google maps I still went wrong. How have I managed to not get lost on previous walks! Luck, I guess 🤭🤭🤞🤞

So now that I  know my daft mistake, it doesn’t really matter since its unlikely I’ll walk that way again while here…but I’m glad I resolved the issue.

So whizzing along I made my way back into town, passing some interesting houses, the only surviving section of the Franciscan Friary

Amazing relic from 1224!!

and while chatting on the phone to the relief carer who’d just left due to issues at the house, I once again went off piste….I had planned to go to Tesco for a packet of my secret vice, but since I was so completely not going in the right direction, I gave up and went back to the house.

On the way I passed the castle for another look and more photos 😁😁…wish the weather had been this fine on Saturday!!

Lewes Castle

Next a brief stop to take a few more photos of the 15th century  bookshop windows….and spotted another book I would dearly love to buy – bad luck, the shop won’t be open again till Friday afternoon and by then I’ll be on my way….

I’m on the home straight. Hoorah!!

A little video with some more images from my walkabout today. The weather was fantastic

Lewes

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As I’ve mentioned before, in my job I get to travel and work all over the country. I consider myself very lucky to be able to do this, especially during these challenging times when a lot of people are struggling with lockdown and unable to get out much.

Travel is my opiate and I love discovering new places, especially if the history of said place includes a mention in the 1086 Domesday Book, or boasts a castle, or a Roman wall (anything Roman in fact makes me happy), or even just an awesome history. And Lewes has just about all of the above.

I arrived on 9th October which coincidentally was the 19th anniversary of my arrival in the UK and I was immediately smitten.

The narrow cobbled lanes, the quirky high street, and to my delight I spotted 2 very old buildings as we drove up the high street to my next assignment.

I had a choice of 2 bedrooms, either the 1st level, or the 2nd…I chose the 2nd level despite all the stairs because the views across the countryside are absolutely stunning, the hills are enticingly close – and I have a wonderful view of the sunrise…when it’s not raining.

On Saturday during my break I immediately set off to explore and walking along the High Street I first walked through the churchyard of St Anne’s Church. I noticed a row of 12 cast-iron memorials, early19th century; all for the same family, and of 10 children, 9 died before the age of 4 years…the youngest was 4 months old. Only 1 child survived till the age of 38. Heartbreaking. I’ve put a link to the church’s history because its absolutely fascinating.

Next I passed the Old Toll House which stood at the west gate into the city. The gate no longer exists and the toll house on Rotten Row is now a private residence.

I popped in at St Michael’s Church on the High Street but had to admire the interior from behind a thick glass ceiling to floor window. Closed due to Covid-19. Urgh. This damn virus. I love these ancient churches and always welcome an opportunity to visit.

Meandering along I suddenly discovered the castle 😃😃😃 I’d been so enchanted by the old medieval buildings, I’d missed the even older castle. But there it was. Unfortunately I couldn’t enter that day because I had neither mask nor money, but they’re open every Saturday, so next it shall be.

I explored the lanes and back paths on the north side of town and admired the views across the downs. Oh how much I’d love to walk those downs….soon. The autumn colours are just stunning.

I discovered quite by accident the old windmill apparently once owned by Virginia Woolf…awesome. The views of the castle from the back streets on the north side were stunning and I mentally kicked myself for not having money and a mask, the views from the castle ramparts must be stunning!!

From there I meandered along the High Street admiring the old buildings and taking dozens of photos (nothing new there then 🤭🤭) History plaques are attached to many of the buildings and give a fascinating glimpse into the towns varied past.

History plaques

I spotted a banner with a compilation of photos from the famous annual Lewes Bonfire Night event. I immediately kicked myself again 🤪🤪….this was something I’d wanted to witness ever since I read about it some years ago, but forgotten…on further investigation I learned that sadly, it has been cancelled for 2020 due to Covid-19, but I’ll make a note for future. From wikipedia: Lewes Bonfire or Bonfire, for short, describes a set of celebrations held in the town of Lewes, Sussex that constitute the United Kingdom’s largest and most famous Bonfire Night festivities, with Lewes being called the bonfire capital of the world. If you Google Lewes Bonfire videos, you’ll find some extraordinary footage.

I walked past the old Flea Market which looked very interesting and could have done with a bit of a wander, but again….no mask. You’d think that by now I’d be used to wearing a mask and remember to take it with me on my meanderings, but no….🤪🤪

The WW1 & 2 memorial looked absolutely beautiful

I made a brief sortie along the upper parallel lanes of the south side, but didn’t feel like walking back UP the very steep lanes if I went down…tomorrow is another day LOL

On my return to my work location, I hopped on to wikipedia and did some research. To my delight I discovered that Lewes is mentioned in the 1086 Domesday Book which brings the total number I’ve visited to 147!!! 😃😃

Reading further my curiosity about the ‘twittens’ was piqued. I’d noticed that some of the South side lanes had names like Church Twitten and I was intrigued. I’d never come across the word ‘twitten’ before, and I’ve visited dozens of old villages in the last 12 years.

According to wikipedia: the network of alleyways or ‘twittens’ which run north–south on either side of the High Street date back to Anglo-Saxon times. According to the Dictionary of the Sussex dialect and collection of provincialisms in use in the county of Sussex published in Lewes in 1875. “Twitten is a narrow path between two walls or hedges, especially on hills”. Well, how about that. Fascinating, and I learn something new every day. ☺ jm just amazed I’ve never come across the word before….surely twittens are not unique to Lewes!?

Lewes looks absolutely charming and I’m looking forward to exploring more thoroughly over the next 3 weeks.

A few snippets of history:

The Saxons invaded East Sussex in the 5th century.

Founded in the 6th C, the name Lewes is probably derived from a Saxon word, ‘hluews’ which meant slopes or hills.

In the late 9th C King Alfred made a network of fortified settlements across his kingdom called burhs.

Saxon Lewes was also a busy little town with weekly markets.
In the 10th C it had 2 mints; it was a place of some importance.

At the time of the Norman Conquest in 1066 Lewes probably had less than 2,000 inhabitants.

The Normans built a castle to guard Lewes and founded the priory (small abbey) of St Pancras in Lewes.

Lewes was listed as a settlement in the 1086 Domesday Book with a recorded population of 127 households, putting it in the largest 20% of recorded settlements, and is listed under 2 owners.

St. Anne’s is a Grade One Listed Norman Church, on the medieval Pilgrim’s route from Winchester to Canterbury and built with pilgrim money.

In 1148 King Stephen granted Lewes a charter.

In the 13th century Franciscan friars arrived in Lewes.

In 1264 the Battle of Lewes was fought between King Henry III and some rebellious barons led by Simon de Montfort.

In 1537 Henry VIII dissolved the Priory. In 1540 Henry gave Anne of Cleves House to his wife after their divorce – however Anne never lived there.

The plague struck in 1538.

During the reign of Catholic Queen Mary (1553-1558), 17 Protestants from Sussex were martyred in Lewes.

The famous radical, Tom Paine, lived in Lewes from 1768 to 1774.

In 1836 8 people were killed by a snow avalanche.

The railway reached Lewes in 1846.

Lewes, in my opinion is a must visit

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Revisiting the City of Winchester pre-pilgrimage 19.08.2018.

I’ve been to Winchester many times, the first in 2003 not long after I arrived in the UK. It is quite one of my favourite cities and a revisit is never hard to do. Besides London it is the city I have visited most often in the 16 years I have lived in the UK. Since the Pilgrim’s Way starts in Winchester, it was imperative that I spent a day revisiting favourite places and especially following the King Alfred Walk, before starting on my walk the next week.

There’s so much I could tell you about Winchester, but that would require a very long blog…so instead I’ll stick with the more pertinent and juicy bits….

The area around Winchester had been inhabited since pre-historic times and there are 3 iron-age sites nearby.

Winchester, built around 70AD, was known as Venta Belgarum, “Venta of the Belgae” during Roman times and there are small remnants of Roman wall near the East Gate bridge. The 5th largest town in Roman Britain.

Winchester became known as Wintan-ceastre (“Fort Venta”) in Old English. In 648, King Cenwalh of Wessex erected the Church of St Peter and St Paul which was later known as the Old Minster. There are remnants of this that you can see in the grounds of the cathedral.

Winchester was once the capital of England, ruled by Alfred the Great, King of Wessex from 871 to 899.

peninsula barracks winchester, the westgate museum, the great hall winchester palace, st swithuns church winchester, explore winchester, the pilgrims way, king alfreds walk

Winchester Coat of Arms

Starting at the cathedral I’ll take you on a circular tour of the city….

The fabulous medieval Winchester Cathedral, originally built in 1079; is one of the largest in Europe, and distinguished by having the longest nave and overall length of all the Gothic cathedrals in Europe. It’s architecture spans the 11th – 16th centuries.

The cathedral houses the Shrine of St Swithun (born in Winchester – died 863 AD); an Anglo-Saxon bishop of Winchester, he became the 19th bishop in 852 and subsequently patron saint of Winchester Cathedral.

Winchester is the start of St Swithun’s Way and The Pilgrim’s Way to Canterbury.

Take a look at the ruins of the Old Minster to the left of the west door, and be sure to visit Queen Eleanor’s garden , accessed through the cathedral.

Pilgrim’s Hall – situated in the Cathedral Close, and known as the Pilgrim’s Hall as it was used to accommodate pilgrims who visited St Swithun’s shrine. It’s the earliest hammer-beamed building still standing in England.

pilgrims hall winchester, winchester cathedral, city of winchester, the pilgrims way, st swithuns shrine, queen eleanors garden, old minster winchester

The Pilgrim’s Hall

Two of the 5 city gates are still standing: Kings Gate and the West Gate.

Just before Priors Gate is the mid-15th century timber-framed Cheyney Court; once the Bishops Court House is a mid fifteenth-century timber-framed house.

winchester, city of winchester, explore winchester, king alfreds walk, cheyney house

Cheyney Court, Winchester

Still within the precincts of the cathedral is the Priors Gate

St Swithun-upon-Kingsgate; located above the medieval Kings Gate, one of the principal entrances to the city. Built in the Middle Ages in the Early English style, the church is unusual in that it forms a part of the fabric of the old city walls, and first appears in 13th century records – mentioned in 1264. It is mentioned in Anthony Trollope’s novel The Warden under the fictional name of St Cuthberts.

Jane Austen lived in a house near the cathedral and died in Winchester on 18 July 1817. She is buried in the cathedral.

jane austens house winchester, winchester, city of winchester, explore winchester, king alfreds walk, st swithuns church

the house where Jane Austen lived in Winchester – I was fortunate enough to visit her house in Chawton during my walk

Wolvesey Castle – these stunning ruins, standing on the site of an earlier Saxon structure, were once the Norman bishop’s palace, dating from 1110. Enhanced by Henry de Blois during the Anarchy of his brother King Stephen’s reign, he was besieged there for some days. In the 16th c, Queen Mary Tudor and King Philip II of Spain were guests just prior to their wedding in the Cathedral. The building now a ruin and maintained by English Heritage, its free to explore, the chapel was incorporated into the new palace built in the 1680s, only one wing of which survives today.

Roman city walls – a small section of the old Roman city walls can be seen opposite the The Weirs alongside the river near the bridge.

The River Itchen; flowing through the mill and beneath the old Eastgate bridge, is noted as one of the world’s premier chalk streams. Designated as a Site of Special Scientific Interest, it supports a range of protected species as well as watercress beds (I saw the watercress beds near Alresford on Day 1 of my walk). The settlement of Itchen Abbas on the river is given as Icene in the Domesday Book of 1086.

The Eastgate Bridge – although the gate is long gone, this pretty bridge crosses the river just before the mill. If you cross the bridge away from the city, just beyond the roundabout you’ll find…..Chesil Rectory.

the wiers river itchen winchester, wolvesey castle winchester, jane austens house winchester, winchester, city of winchester, explore winchester, king alfreds walk, river itchen, eastgate bridge

The Eastgate Bridge, Winchester

Chesil Rectory – is the oldest house in Winchester; the sign says it’s dated 1450. A link with Queen Mary I; along with the water mill, she gave the rectory to the City of Winchester as compensation for the expense of her wedding. It’s now a restaurant.

the weirs river itchen winchester, wolvesey castle winchester, jane austens house winchester, winchester, city of winchester, explore winchester, king alfreds walk, river itchen, eastgate bridge, chesil rectory

Chesil Rectory, Winchester – built 1450

The Water Mill – this beautiful, working mill, is situated on the River Itchen in the centre of this ancient city; Winchester. Restored and now a Grade II listed building, it is managed by the National Trust. First recorded in the Domesday Book of 1086, it was known as Eastgate Mill until 1554.

Sightings of otters passing through have been recorded by night-vision cameras.

Statue of King Alfred the Great – located just beyond the bridge, on the Broadway, this towering statue dominates the streets. He is one of only two English monarchs to be given the epithet “the Great”, the other being Cnut The Great. The statue was designed by Hamo Thornycroft, R.A., and erected in 1899 to mark one thousand years since Alfred’s death.

The fabulous Victorian Guildhall, built in the Gothic revival style, it looks very similar to St Pancras Station in London. The lovely tourist office is located at street level.

The High Street – Following his rise to power, Alfred obliterated the Roman streets and laid down the grid you can still see today; the High Street is the oldest known road in the world (this I gleaned from articles on the web).

the high street winchester, the guildhall winchester, city of winchester, explore winchester

view of the High Street, Winchester – seen from the roof of the West Gate, looking towards the King Alfred statue on The Broadway

The City Cross aka the Buttercross, located on the High Street, and now a Scheduled Ancient Monument, has been dated to the 15th c, and features 12 statues of the Virgin Mary, saints and various other historical figures.

The West Gate – now a museum, is a must visit. One of two surviving fortified gateways in Winchester, the earliest surviving fabric is Anglo-Saxon.  Once a debtors’ prison you can see prisoners’ graffiti engraved on the inner walls. Amongst a fantastic collection of artefacts, the museum houses a unique collection of weights and measures and a Tudor ceiling from Winchester College. There are fab views of the city and the High Street from the Westgate roof. The museum is free to visit.

The Great Hall – all that remains of the 12th century castle, beyond a few underground passageways and walls, and one of my favourite buildings in Winchester, it houses the famous King Arthur’s Round Table, dating from the 13th century, which has hung in the hall from at least 1463. It was painted for Henry VIII in 1522 and features the names of the legendary Knights of the Round Table around the edge and surmounted by King Arthur seated on his throne.

The Peninsula Barracks – The barracks, originally known as the Upper Barracks, Winchester, were built in the early 20th c on the site of King’s House, an unfinished palace designed by Sir Christopher Wren for Charles II which was destroyed by fire in 1894. Some parts of the barracks remain Grade II listed buildings in their own right including the Green Jackets Headquarters and the Royal Green Jackets (Rifles) Museum.

If you approach the Peninsula Barracks from St James’s Lane there is a short flight of steps leading up to the square, these mark the perimeter of the old city walls, of which there are a few remnants near the river on The Weirs.

peninsula barracks winchester, the westgate museum, the great hall winchester palace, st swithuns church winchester, explore winchester, the pilgrims way, king alfreds walk

these steps mark the boundary of the city

and of a more quirky nature; located on Great Minster Street and The Square, there are 24 bollards – painted by The Colour Factory between 2005-2012 in the style of famous artists of the likes of David Hockney, Henri Rousseau, Pablo Picasso, Henri Matisse and Leonardo da Vinci. They are quite lovely.

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And this brings to you back to the cathedral precinct.  If you enquire at the Tourist Information Centre at the Guildhall, they will provide you with a self-guided tour of the city which pretty much covers the route I’ve taken you on, except it starts near the King Alfred statue statue and goes clockwise.

Further snippets:

The Book of Winchester was the Domesday Book compiled by officials of William the Conqueror on his orders and published c1086.

John Keats stayed in Winchester from mid-August to October 1819, and wrote “Isabella”, amongst other well-known works while there.

There is so much else to see in Winchester;

The Hospital of St Cross – somehow I missed visiting this place on my recent visit (I’ll have to go back 😉 ).  I’ve attached a link to the history of the church  http://hospitalofstcross.co.uk/history/

St Lawrence Church – probably of Norman origin, and said to have been the chapel of William the Conqueror’s palace (built 1069-70, destroyed 1141) it is now a Grade II listed building.

Near the Great Hall are the fascinating old passageways from the castle/palace and the Hampshire Jubilee sculpture which is really beautiful

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the castle passageways. not always open but pop in if they are

city of winchester, visit winchester, explore, winchester, palace of winchester passageways, hampshire jubilee sculpture, walking the pilgrims way

Hampshire Jubilee Sculpture near the Great Hall

The site of Hyde Abbey : a medieval Benedictine monastery just outside the walls of Winchester, it was dissolved and demolished in 1539.

St Bartholomew’s Church : originally the parish church of Hyde, a villages outside the walls of Winchester, the church was est 1110 and dissolved and demolished in 1539. Now a Grade II listed building, it lies directly alongside the early part of The Pilgrim’s Way.

st bartholomews church wicnhester, hyde abbey, city of winchester, explore winchester, winchester, walking the pilgrims way

St Bartholomew’s Church Winchester

I had a wonderful 5 hours walking around Winchester and of course a visit to the cathedral, after which I hopped on the train back to Southampton….delighted to have spent more time in this fabulous city. I was now getting really excited for my upcoming walk on Tuesday 21st August.

Once back in Southampton I stopped off for some dinner and now its time for London Pride at the appropriately named Spitfure Pub. Its been a very humid day, started off totally overcast, then blue skies after 2pm. I do love Winchester. The King Alfred walk takes you past so many fascinating places. I met 2 ladies who were just starting the Southdowns Way to Eastbourne….so cool.

explore winchester, visit winchester, explore winchester

always time for London Pride

I did try to keep it short…I promise LOL Winchester is a treasure trove of history and a must visit…you’ll need at least a full day to get the most out of your visit.

references:

https://www.visitwinchester.co.uk/things-to-do/history-heritage/

http://www.localhistories.org/winchester.html

https://www.britainexpress.com/counties/hampshire/winchester/westgate.htm

wikipedia (of course 😉 )

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I was chatting to my daughter yesterday and remarked that I had been particularly blessed this year. Usually when you get to the end of the year you kinda feel like there is more that could/should be done before the year ends (well I do), and the last few days of December are spent cramming in just a few more activities. But this year I can truly say that I have had a year jam-packed with adventures, and for that, I am truly grateful.

inspirational quotes

Die with memories, not dreams

So to that end I decided to list my 2017 adventures, and was astounded at how much I had actually done, and how many places I have actually been to besides all my Camino 2017 practice walks that took me to some fantastic places. So this is my final blog for 31 Days of Gratitude – Day 31 – 2017 in review.

January

New Year’s Day swim 01.01.2017 Broadstairs Beach, Isle of Thanet, Kent

New Year's Day, Broadstairs

New Year’s Day, Broadstairs

Wedding Dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping with my daughter

wedding dress shopping…so much fun

Isle of Wight, Hampshire, England

visit the isle of wight

A visit to the isle of Wight

Places I went while I was there; Nettlestone (1086 Domesday Book village),20170116_144130-01 Bembridge Windmilll, Brading Roman Villa, Carisbrooke Castle, Cowes, Ryde, rode on a Hover craft, The Needles and Quarr Abbey.

And Osborne House


Magic Lantern Festival – Chiswick Park, London

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

Canterbury, Kent

February
Oxted, Surrey – the Greenwich Meridian runs through the town

Oxted

A closer look at Oxted

Limpsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

Down House – home of Charles Darwin

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Down House; home of Charles Darwin and his family

Tatsfield, Surrey – a Domesday Book village

tatsfield surrey

South East England’s highest village; Tatsfield. Ref wikipedia: “In Anglo-Saxon England, Tatsfield lay within Tandridge hundred. In 1086 it was held by Anschitill (Ansketel) de Ros from the Bishop of Bayeux. Its Domesday assets were: ? hide. It had 2 ploughs. It rendered 60 shillings (£3) to its feudal overlords per year.”

Tandridge & Crowhurst, Surrey

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Tandridge & Crowhurst

Dublin, Ireland

 

Trim Castle & Trim, Ireland

March
City of Winchester, Hampshire, England

Winchester

Winchester

Torquay, seaside resort – Devon

torquay

Torquay

April

Pisa, Florence, San Gimignano, Poggibonsi, Sienna, Lucca – Italy

 

May

Newcastle, Co. Wicklow, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Newcastle, Ireland

Belfast, Northern Ireland

 

Giants Causeway, Northern Ireland

 

Dark Hedges – Game of Thrones, N. Ireland

the dark hedges northern ireland

The Dark Hedges – scenes for Game of Thrones were shot in this area

Sevenoaks, Kent, England

 

June
Tonbridge, Kent, England

Ironbridge, Shropshire, England – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Lenham, Kent, England

Lenham

Lenham

July
Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales route – Southwark to Canterbury

Battle of Britain Airshow, Headcorn

St Augustine’s Way – Ramsgate to Canterbury

August
Arundel, and Arundel Castle, West Sussex, England

Bromham, Houghton House with my lovely friends Lynne & Tim and Elstow (birthplace of John Bunyan) – Bedfordshire, England

Bronham, Houghton House, Elstow

Bromham, Houghton House, Elstow

Zip Line with Zip World in London with my daughter

September
Walked the Caminho Portuguese – Porto, Portugal to Santiago, Spain 240 kms – Both UNESCO World Heritage sites

Coimbra, Portugal – UNESCO World Heritage Site

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

Barcelona, Catalunya, Spain

October
Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery Castle, Montgomery, Wales

November
Caernarfon Castle, Wales – site where Prince Charles was crowned Prince of Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Caenarfon Castle, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway Line Train ride; Caenarfon to Portmadogg through Snowdonia

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Porthmadogg, Wales

Ffenistogg Railway line Caenarfon to Portmadogg, Wales

Climbed Mount Snowdon, Snowdonia National Park, Gwynedd – highest mountain in Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Mount Snowdon, Wales

Montgomery, Powys, Wales – The Treaty of Montgomery was signed 29 September 1267 in Montgomeryshire. By this treaty King Henry III of England acknowledged Llywelyn ap Gruffudd as Prince of Wales.

Montgomery, Wales

Montgomery, Wales

December
Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Snow in Wales

Christmas in Broadstairs, Isle of Thanet, Kent

xmas 2017

Christmas 2017 with my delightful family

And in total, between 01.01.2017 & 31.12.2017 I have walked well over 1100 miles.