We set out to go to Capel le Ferne and didn’t. The idea was to walk the hills above
Folkstone and enjoy the warm sun and the sea. We didn’t. Instead we missed the turn due to the press of traffic, the new configuration of the road which made any decision difficult without a Sat-Nav handy.
However, we had a pleasant journey and arrived on the Alkham Road to stop at Kearnsey Abbey gardens and what turned out to be a pleasant walk with some vigorous exercise up and down hills. Mit ein hund, namely Zoid and the enthusiasm of middle-aged idiots who expect a footpath to open up going in the right direction.
One of the amazing things about Britain and in particular the Southern Counties is that there is always an unexpected treat in store for the walker. That is not to say the same cannot be said for elsewhere in Britain but here in Kent where urban sprawl seems to burgeon there are gems. The road from Folkstone to Dover, not the A20 but the smaller road, winds through a valley which at this time of the year is still Summer green and shows signs of recent harvest.
This day the sun shone and warmed us so when we realised that we were well out of our way and searching for a place to stop off and walk we saw the Abbey Gardens and decided that was what we should do. Zoid didn’t care where we stopped as long as we stopped
and he could walk with us.
As it turned out the place was a surprise complete with lakes fed by a river running so clear that you could always see bottom. Kearnsey Abbey Gardens are really ponds and trees leading up into wooded hills with a tea-rooms and some most relaxing walks. We walked around the gardens with Zoid loving the splash in the water, visited the site of the mill, ruined but gushing water, and walked through the woods to emerge on to Minnis Lane looking for a path that would take us through the woods again back down to the gardens. We walked a fair way and not having the map with us we decided that we should turn back and try the path we had seen on the way up. It was all hills but we enjoyed the walk and the view over the fields at the top.
We found the pathway and that seemed to drift more or less where we wanted to go and with a tried and true method of navigation we did what we thought was the best thing at the time. We followed the dog.
We arrived at the car park and headed for the tea-rooms where we had a baguette, sandwiches and coffee ‘to go’ choosing a seat in the shade to eat and watch people enjoying themselves. A party with a herd of Jack Russells (will they never learn?) made most noise – the people were quiet but the dogs wanted to attack any passing canine. (They do that)
Across the way was Russell Gardens with pleasantly laid out lawns, modest planting and featuring arched bridges over weirs. Behind there were woodlands to walk in and vaguely marked tracks leading off to Temple Ewel and Lydden. We wandered and on one part of the waters we saw a Cormorant, ducks dabbling and enjoyed the sight of huge trees in clearings, rabbits dashing to the burrows and people enjoying the afternoon walking.
I am glad we missed the turning.