I was staying in very snowy Kent last week. Temperatures were around or below freezing but that didn’t prevent me and my sister enjoying some decent tramps around the countryside directly from the back door of our Landmark – Obriss Farm.
On the Tuesday, the first day’s walking, we very soon came across The Octavia Hill Centenary Trail (OHCT) signs and it seemed that this trail coincided very closely with the walking route that we had picked out from the mass of public footpaths and bridleways criss-crossing the local fields and woodlands.
We began our walk that day by tramping over snow covered fields behind the farm to Toys Hill hamlet where the Octavia Hill Memorial Well (restored in 1999 in her honour by The National Trust of which she was a founder) marks the start of both the East and the West trails.
The Octavia Hill Memorial Well in Toys Hill hamlet
The path passes through the grounds of Chartwell (but sadly with no view of the house itself at this point) to the church and graveyard at Crockham Hill where Miss Hill is buried in the churchyard and where there is a Memorial to her in the chancel lying next to the altar.
The Royal Oak in Crockham serves decent bar snacks (and full lunches) and our circular walk finished a couple of miles later at the private track leading back to Obriss Farm. Obriss Farm doesn’t feature on the OHCT but it is only about half a mile or so from the start of the Trails at the well in Toys Hill hamlet.
To hear more about this walk click here to listen to Clare Balding on Ramblings on BBC Radio 4 undertaking the walk and which we listened to on our return from the second OHCT walk on the Thursday!
At The Royal Oak we also picked up a copy of the leaflet that outlines the two routes of the Trail which has been inaugurated as a commemoration of the centenary of the death of Octavia Hill in 1912. Our trail on Tuesday had more or less followed Walk 2 – the West Walk.
We’ve been interested in Octavia Hill for some years now via an initial interest in Beatrix Potter and visits to her (BP’s) Lake District home (Hill Top), farm and gallery and an exhibition of her work on display at The Dulwich Art Gallery back in 2006.
In August 2006 we visited Octavia Hill’s Birthplace Museum in Wisbech and came across the results of her philanthropic efforts in Marylebone on one of those London Walks : Saturday Afternoon’s Old Marylebone Walk
On Thursday we decided to do the East Walk from Toys Hill which included more hills and steep ascents than we had expected to find in Kent!
A choice of footpaths at Obriss Farm
From Toys Hill hamlet we followed the path to the village of Ide Hill via the Octavia Hill stone memorial seat and from thence to Emmetts Gardens, Scords Wood and the (yes, you guessed) Octavia Hill Woodland. We were shocked to notice so many fallen trees just lying around the woods and then we saw a sign that explained what this was all about :
After several uphill climbs the path finally downhill to Toys Wood village and our track back to the farm and the cosy parlour with its open fire in the range.