The day was a treat, a break in the rain of the wettest April/May for years and although it was a cool day we headed for Goodnestone Gardens. We were disappointed in our mission discovering that the gardens are open from Tuesday to Friday so we settled for a walk around the village instead. It was a sunny, cool day with cloud and a little breeze but just right for walking.
We parked at the gardens expecting to visit and left the car there to take a walk around instead. We took the public footpath that leads past the wall and beyond the cricket ground to Bonnington Farm and on the way saw calves in the fields, part of the herd of Sussex cattle bred on the farm. Beautiful creatures. The farm yard and the old houses are worthwhile and at this time of the year the woods are filled with bluebells, orchids and wild garlic soaked as they were by the latest rainfall were bright and vigourous. The smell of them on the breeze was wonderful.
The walk took us up the lane from the farm to follow the road between woods and wheat fields with the rape seed glowing bright yellow in contrast. The Spring foliage is green and bright, looking new and fresh in the sunlight and everywhere we looked the views were stunning. Birds were busy in the trees and that adds to the pleasure of the walk.
In the bright sunshine the Chillenden Mill stands out on the horizon across the fields where a tractor with a sprayer is dusting crops. What with? However, we find a footpath down through the woods and head back to the village noting a few bluebells, a fallen tree and a standing trunk that looks like a tenement block for woodpeckers, as indeed we hear some in the woods. Crossing a track we take a look from the edge of the trees down to the house and gardens – beautiful view of the layout and the men busy working on the cricket pitch in a wonderful rural setting. So peaceful.
The path leads through an avenue of trees that with the new growth glow green in the sunlight on the way down to a field behind the houses and hence back to the village. The Fitzwalter Arms, the hub of the village and conveniently next to the church, is a most welcome sight where we had lunch and a game of bar billiards. The things you do!
After lunch we took a stroll around the village and chatted with a volunteer gardener who told us that the village hall was once the local forge. It is also used as the lunch canteen for the school children. Nice to see they have an active and vibrant village primary school. We learned that when the horses were shod they were taken down to the village pond to cool the shoes in the water. The pond was lined on the base with flint as a hard base for walking the horses and at times was also used as the washing pond for a sheep dip. We went there looking for frogs but found none.
From there we walked along Boyes Road and took a path through and old orchard back to the road again, turned down into the village and choosing the footpath beside the weaver’s cottage and the school went up to the churchyard. Eventually we strolled back down to the car park and determined to come back again to see the gardens.
I will continue this post on to the next one if we manage to visit the gardens as planned on Tuesday (May 15) and hopefully have more pictures of the village and some of the gardens to add to a later post.
The beauty of Kent is that there is variety in what you can discover. Maybe the county is not as wild as northern counties, or as grand as the Peak District, Wales or Scotland but with the North Downs as a backdrop and the slopes leading to the coastlands, the Romney Marshes and the magnificent white cliffs, we have enough to show. Little gems such as Goodnestone are a wonderful respite from the urban areas of the sprawling Medway Towns, Dartford and Gravesend and the awful industrialisation of the Thanet coastal towns.