Stunning walk at Fackenden Down today. Far more snow than I expected. Just a few extra metres at the top of the ridge made all the difference and there were some reasonable accumulations in Magpie Bottom. I had birdwatcher Dave for company which led to some more exciting sightings than I even manage without him. We saw bullfinch, coal tits, heard linnets, a probable marsh tit and, best of all, saw a short-eared owl hunting low over a rewilded field at Romney St. Big thanks to those who donated to the site today, much appreciated.
Thunderstorm approaching – seen after leaving point 7. April 2012. This storm ended a long warm spell from March to April and ushered in the rain that went on for all of May and much of June that year (spoiling the queen’s regatta among other things)
I’ve finally got around to adding the Otford circular walk. At six miles it’s the longest on this site so far and the most hilly, but it’s worth it. But it’s a crying shame that the halfway-point pub, The Fox and Hounds, has shut down. It had a really good, large beer garden and giant fairytale shoe for kids to play in with a slide on top. I guess it was a bit isolated to survive the rural pub blight – especially in the winter months – not being in a village. Also newly shut is the Austin Lodge golf course, which clearly was suffering from the downturn in golf. There are also quite a number of courses in the area and competition must be tough. Presumably the valley it was in will now go back to farmland, but for now it’s got a rather wistful, wild look to it. The walk, like the others on this site, is within the Kent Downs Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty.
The walk is best in April-October – after that it gets too muddy at some points. The first time I did it, in 2005, I got home just in time to see Steve Harmison bowl Michael Clarke in the amazing 2nd Test of that momentous ashes series. A big moment (for some of us anyway), and a great ending to a great day.