We returned to the Island again this morning. We walked round to the left and Couscous chased the boats on the Medway River. The drawbridge was down so we went across to Chatham Docks and had a coffee. There are some new restaurants since we were last here (years ago we came to see a movie and the area depressed me so we never returned). It seems to have changed for the better.
Yesterday we went back to Haysden Country Park, only we missed the turn off and ended up parking by the other lake. This lake is actually Haysden Water while the main park is Barden Lake. Haysden had two problems - muddy and near the freeway so Couscous wanted to chase the cars and kept straining on her lead. So we walked a little way round and decided to go to the main park where it wasn’t muddy. Of course that is near a train line and Couscous wanted to chase the train, but by then she was tired so it wasn’t such a problem. Couscous had a lot of exercise on this trip.
We went into London to pick up my loom and on the way home stopped off at Victoria Park – London’s oldest purpose built, public park. A lovely autumn day. You can park in any of the side streets.
Today we drove to Tunbridge Wells. First we visited Woodbury Park Cemetery, established in the mid 1800s. It’s a lovely Victorian cemetery, quite small, which is well kept. Lady Brisbane’s tomb is here – a cousin of the eponym for Brisbane, Australia. You park in the neighbouring streets for this walk. We then drove round to Calverley Ground (parked in a multi-storey car park across the road from one of the entrances). This park is formal and has a café and toilets. So together they make a good outing for walking Couscous.
The Fortress, at Dover, can be walked around easily (once you enter through a small tunnel which you need to crouch to get through). The inner complex is open only one? weekend a year. Nearby is the Grand Shaft Staircase (also only opened once? a year) which enabled soldiers to get from the fortress to the port easily. An amazing structure with two cylinders encompassing three staircases. Dover Castle isn’t far and there are other heritages sites in the area.
Igtham Mote is a moated manor house. Built nearly 700 years ago, this house has been owned by Medieval knights, courtiers to Henry VIII and high society Victorians. It is now managed by the National Trust. The house is surrounded by gardens with an orchard, water features, lakes and woodland walks. Dogs are not allowed in the main property but there are three estate walks. You get a good view over Kent on the longer walk. The loo is accessible from the car park and the café might be as well.
We visited Standen today. It is a National Trust property, a family house built in the 1890s for the Beale family by architect Philip Webb, a close friend of William Morris. The Arts and Crafts Movement is obvious throughout the house. The gardens are open to dogs, except the kitchen garden as they use the produce in the cafe/restaurant. There is a woodland walk as well as those around the gardens.
We ventured into South London to visit Nunhead Cemetery, where we met a number of other dog walkers. The Friends of the Cemetery say this about it:
Perhaps the least known, but most attractive, of the great Victorian Cemeteries of London. Consecrated in 1840, it is one of the seven great Victorian cemeteries established in a ring around the outskirts of London. It contains examples of the magnificent monuments erected in memory of the most eminent citizens of the day, which contrast sharply with the small, simple headstones marking common, or public, burials. It’s formal avenue of towering limes and the Gothic gloom of the original Victorian planting gives way to paths which recall the country lanes of a bygone era.
“Cliffe Pools nature reserve offers a spectacular landscape of open water and big skies. The reserve is one of the most important places for wildlife in the UK with huge flocks of wading birds and waterfowl. A number of nature trails cross the reserve, affording great views of the pools, wildlife and the River Thames which runs alongside.”
Another gem not far from Gravesend. This is a RSPB reserve and we saw a few different birds (but we weren’t there for that long), a rabbit and what may have been a fox cub. The paths are pretty good, and we came a day after a huge storm. I couldn’t believe the blackberries! They lined all the paths we took, often on both sides. I ate a couple but it will be a couple of weeks before they are ripe. Must go back. Couscous loved the puddles and the mud.