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.
The cozy fire and tea and book look so welcoming after a tramp through the snow!
Oh yes, sherry, makes it all worth while! Tramping through the snow was quite an effort at times a bit like walking on a sandy beach.
Oh yes, we maids of Kent are quite used to hills and vales! Most parts of Kent still have areas of devastated woodland from October 1987, though now it is softened a little by ivy & undergrowth.
Of course, your Kent connection. The hurricane in 1987 never reached Yorkshire, thankfully, so it was quite shocking to see so many trees down in one small area of woodland.
I was so lucky to have been in England from June to August, 1987–I got to see the England that was, before the hurricane deforested so much of the land. I’m glad to hear that some places have been left to regenerate naturally –much better for the land!
And that tea set before the fire looks so inviting!
Time for a re-visit then, Kate! Yes, I think it’s National Trust policy to accept the status quo and leave the fallen trees to be natural habitats.
Just started reading “literary” blogs. Hardly knew what a blog was? Now I realize 99% of the blogs I enjoy daily are from England. I greatly enjoy the pictures posted and recommendations given for books to read. Thanks so much for this enjoyment.
Thank you, Lorraine. I hope I continue to please 🙂
What a wonderful fire, it looks like a sort of range??
And I knew of Octavia Hill but not a lot about her, so now I know more, thank you.
Interestingly I have just been reading a book that includes an account of the 1987 storm into the plot, Possession by A.S.Byatt, apparently one of the first and few to do so, but it plays a major role at the end of the book. Remember it well
…and spotting the birthday cards there x
It was a range alright and although a small space once the fire was built up it gave out some good heat! I read Possession years ago and don’t remember anything about the storms being mentioned but it must definitely have been one of the first as I’m sure I read it in about 1990.
It was the big storm right at the end when they were in the churchyard digging up remains and secret boxes.
It’s coming back to me from the rusty depths of my brain, Lynne.
[…] In 2012 I walked the Octavia Hill Centenary Trail in Kent where she lived and is buried. I wrote about it here. […]