Adventures in Kent

Friday

Ruby the VW is parked at Alderstead Heath Club site just off the M25 near to Caterham. Despite its very close proximity to the M25 it’s a delightfully peaceful retreat set within trees and countryside. We’ve stayed here before and we picked it again as it’s very close to Keith’s dad and step mum’s house. We’re down here catching up for a couple of days so other than a pic I took of Ruby using my new night vision mode on my new iPhone there’s not too much to say about our stay here.

But it’s an ideal base for touring Surrey- there’s a number of National Trust properties close by and Gatwick airport is also close (great for plane spotting and using the flight radar app to see whether everyone is returning from!) We were supposed to visit Chartwell whilst here with Keith’s dad but that ended up not happening due us having to whisk him off to A and E after slicing his hand open whilst washing up!

Sunday saw us change location; we moved down the road to the outskirts of Hever, Kent. Our site for the night was the absolutely brilliant Pigdown Farm. It’s a caravan and Motorhome club Certified location (5 van site) and had nothing other than a water tap, bin and basic emptying point. But at £5 a night and more space than we knew what to do with, plus an easy walk to the pretty and very historical village of Hever what more could we wish for.

We met up with Keith’s brother and sister in law and enjoyed lunch in the pub, the historical Henry VIII which sits opposite to Anne Boleyn’s childhood home, Hever Castle.

After lunch we enjoyed a couple of hours exploring the grounds of Hever Castle with our pre booked tickets. We didn’t have Jazz on this trip because we’d read Hever wasn’t dog friendly, but there were loads of dogs out and about so we must have made a mistake. Sorry Jazz, we deprived you of a trip!

Having said that, on our return to the campsite it became clear that not having Jazz was a blessing when our campsite field got invaded by sheep!

We made the most of the fact the campsite was empty other than one caravan literally the other side (probably a third of a mile away!!) by inviting Keith’s brother, sister in law and our friend who live ten mins down the road over for a drink and a catch up which a lovely and the canopy really came into its own as the heavens opened! They were in hysterics as the sheep came! It’s was a lovely afternoon and evening.

Monday arrived and we moved on; our first stop was to Lullingstone Roman Villa,a bucket list visit for Keefy.

Lullingstone was uncovered in the 1930s and is deemed one of the best preserved remains of a Roman villa to be found so far in the UK. It includes a fabulous mosaic floor along with some original paintwork and plaster! Also lots of artefacts have also been uncovered. We enjoyed a brilliant visit here, it blew me away when I got my first view of the villa.

From here we moved onto the nearby Eynsford Castle, equally as impressive because it has absolutely huge (and rare) curtain walls, and they are almost complete. Eynsford is also quite rare because it wasn’t changed or adapted since it was built in the late Norman era.

We had lunch here before stocking up on some supplies and moving onto our next campsite, a 30 minute drive to Hilders Farm, overlooking Bough Beech reservoir. We have electric hook up tonight but no other facilities and at just £12 pn we feel this is a fair price. This site felt much smaller than the previous one (the other one was HUGE!), but we were the only ones here in the end.

A caravan packed up and left after we set up (they were escaping the storm due) and the other caravan was in storage. The weather became slightly mixed but our canopy allowed us to sit out nonetheless. What a great investment that’s been!

We had a bbq for dinner before having an earlyish night. The winds started softly during the night but our tailgate awning did well in it.

Tuesday dawned rainy and we set about our first rainy pack away of the summer! We’ve got it down to a fine art now though and it took us just over 30 mins. We headed the short drove to Penshurst Place and Gardens. When we booked this at the beginning of Aug the Baron’s hall was not open but luckily for us and the wash out that is today, last week the Baron’s Hall reopened so we were able to go and look.

Baron’s Hall is a medieval hall house dating from 1340 and is absolutely wonderful! It’s 60ft high and has a hammer beam roof similar to Westminster Hall (but on a smaller scale obviously!). No pics allowed sadly.

The gardens are extensive and we enjoyed a wander around despite the wet weather.

From here, we could have visited Hever as we were once again very close. There is also a carriage route turned into a footpath between Penshurst and Hever Castle. If it hadn’t been so wet we’d have had a wander down that.

We were close to Chartwell and Emmett’s Garden National trust here, so as you can see this area is certainly worth basing yourselves in. Keith’s stepmother tells me them at Emmetts garden is worth a visit for the Bluebells so we will make a visit next spring for sure.

We however moved an hour further south from Penshurst for our third and final campsite of our mini break. We arrived at Devenden Farm just near to Cranbrook, Kent. At just £7pn it was another no frills basic site with just a tap and emptying point, but the views were fabulous across the Kent Weald.

Again the field was large and as we didn’t have hook up we could pitch anywhere. We are both really enjoying these quiet sites. We shared the site with a tent right at the other end. By now the rain had stopped but it was a bit drafty so we got our canopy and awning out to dry which it did very quickly. We managed the awning up until bed time but took it down as it was blowing a hooley!

We cooked a lovely chicken saag curry for dinner and enjoyed watching the sun go down whilst drinking Kent ale and Kent gin!

We slept very well despite the wind and woke up Wednesday to glorious blue skies and sunshine.

We packed up and drove the short distance to Bodiam Castle. What a treat!! Bodiam Castle is a spectacular fairytale moated 14th century castle. The inside is ruins (and also not open currently due to Covid) but the outside is worth a trip alone! We LOVED it!

From here we made the short journey to Bateman’s National Trust site- once home to Rudyard Kipling. I made Keefy laugh as I thought it was the home of exceeding good cakes! But he reminded me all the books I had read by Kipling, my personal favourite being the Jungle Book.

The house itself is a wonderful Jacobean Manor House. It also has a brilliant example of a Oast House; we’ve seen many as we’ve driven through Kent this week. They were built to store hops. We’ve also noticed many of the houses in these Kent villages have slate on the exterior walls.

The gardens were lovely at Batemans and we will definitely revisit when the house reopens as apparently it’s been left exactly as it was during Kipling’s time here.

For now though, it was time to head back home. We’d had a lovely time away again. Interestingly we’d used Ruby differently this time, moving on to a new campsite each day. I was worried about this when we booked the trip however I needn’t have. We’ve got it down to 30 mins now set up and pack away!

The stars of the show were the 5 van sites with no hook up. We are Loving these whilst it’s warm enough to shower in the awning. We perhaps need to consider a larger leisure battery to enable us to do more of these in the future. Who knows. The thing about our camping is it constantly evolves!

Hoping to have a weekend away towards the end of September but for now it’s all about the return to work. So wish us luck on that!

Until next time

Lx

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